Saturday, 12 April 2014

Do Newspapers Have More Ads than Articles?

We are currently doing an inquiry on "How We Express Ourselves", one of the six PYP transdisciplinary themes. Our focus is looking at how beliefs and values are expressed through advertising.

So naturally we wanted to use maths to help us collect and analyse some data.

Here's what we did.

We started with the provocation that newspapers have more ads than stories. Could this possibly be true? How could we find out? 

At first, students were keen to count the number of ads and compare this to the number of stories. Surely this is what we mean when we say "more".

But they quickly worked out that this would not really be effective - what if there were lots of small ads and only a few big stories, or the other way around?  

Obviously we needed to compare the sizes of the ads and the articles. So how do you do this?

Fortunately, out teacher had been showing us a few things about using multiplication to calculate the area of rectangles. And if you read the fine print under the provocation, you can see the content description from the Australian Curriculum mentions using multiplication to solve problems. Could this be a clue?


So we got out the newspapers and started playing. It was a good conversation - What part is the story? Does it include pictures? Does it include headlines? What is an ad? 

And there were some calculations to add data to the conversation. Good to record the date and page of the "Syndy hereld" for future reference.

Students were encouraged to use coloured higlighters to keep track of each story and ad so that the calculations didn't get confused.

Here's another example of the calculations that were involved.

In Conclusion

I think we ended up with more questions than we answered. We didn't get a definitive solution to the provocation because we decided that:

- different newspapers might be different

- different pages of the same newspaper might be different

- there are lots of little bits that aren't stories OR ads

- sometimes there are whole-page ads with no story. 

- sometimes there are whole pages of small stories without any ads.

Anyway, we had some fun, did some maths and now know that we need to expand our inquiry for next time.

Yeah, next time let's pull apart a whole newspaper and look at the whole thing, not just random pages.

And then we could compare that newspaper with a different newspaper.

And then we could... 


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