Quebec Competencies Chart - Truth or Money

Author: Nova Scotia Department of Health, Drug Dependency and Tobacco Control Unit
Level: Secondary Cycle One
Subject Area: English Language Arts, Moral Education, Physical Education and Health
Lesson Link: Truth or Money

Description: In this lesson, students explore how advertising leverage can lead to censorship of information about public health issues. They discuss the types of interest groups that seek to influence public opinion about smoking, as well as the strategies used by each group. Students then discuss the ways in which the tobacco industry has censored magazine messages about the health risks associated with smoking. To give students a chance to experience a smoking-related moral dilemma, they are placed in the role of a journalist whose article has been rejected because it could antagonize the magazine’s cigarette advertisers. They must then decide how to respond to the editor.

Cross-curricular Competencies

Broad Areas of Learning

  • To use information
  • To solve problems
  • To exercise critical judgement
  • To be creative
  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To work with others
  • To communicate appropriately
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Media Literacy
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights
  • Health and Well-Being


This lesson satisfies the following English Language Arts Competencies from the Quebec Education Program:

Competency One: Uses language/talk to communicate and learn

Production Process:

  • Uses strategies to generate, clarify and expand ideas

Social Practices of Classroom and Community

  • Examines the discourse used to present information in selected spoken, written and media texts
  • Examines the characteristics of familiar dominant discourses and minority voices: whose voices are heard and whose are silenced

Competency Two: Represents his/her literacy in various media

Production Process


  • Rehearses production process:
    • Creates criteria for guiding production, e.g. features of an effective poster or advertisement
    • Discusses the purpose, context, target audience and their needs
    • Writes script, storyboard or rough draft


  • Communicates information, experiences, points of view and personal responses to a familiar audience
  • Inter-relates the characteristics of media text in a specific context drawing on:
    • Specific communication strategies and resources
  • Reviews and edits text to focus on meaning(s)/message(s)


  • Presents text to intended audience

Text, Audience, Producer

Textual Features, Codes and Conventions

  • Interprets media texts:
    • Draws on knowledge of production process and codes and conventions of texts produced
    • Explores the codes that construct media texts, e.g. headlines, captions and photographs in newspapers
    • Constructs message(s) and meaning(s) using familiar codes from media texts
    • Identifies functions of media discourse: to entertain, to persuade, to promote, to inform
    • Makes connection(s) between images, signs, symbols, pictures and printed text and meaning
    • Confirms, by talking with peers and teacher, that a media text can contain more than one message
    • Identifies and discusses some of the ways in which pictures, illustrations, symbols and images enhance the message
    • Examines ways in which bias occurs in various media texts

Audience and Producer

  • Explores self as individual member of audience (use, personal biases, prior experiences) and as part of a larger target audience
  • Compares:
    • Own values with those presented in media texts
    • Own responses, reactions and consumption of media texts with those of peers and other age groups
  • Examines how media target specific audiences:
    • Explores how the structures and features of texts shape meaning for an audience
  • Discusses characteristics of producer:
    • Explores where, when, why, by and for whom texts are produced
    • Considers the stance of different media texts on issues and concerns of interest to young adolescents
    • Identifies aspects of media industry related to marketing and promotion
    • Examines the impact of marketing on common social concepts such as childhood
    • Explores production choices made in own texts

Competency Three: Reads and listens to written, spoken and media texts

Reader’s Stance: Constructing a Reading of a Text

  • Focuses on the world of the text to construct an aesthetic reading of text
  • Focuses on making sense of information in a text to construct an efferent reading, e.g. reads print and visual information with the intention of remembering details/examples and/or of following instructions, rereads to verify meaning(s) s/he is making, relates to personal experience and prior knowledge
  • Focuses on the relationship between own world and world of the text to construct an interpretive reading, e.g. elaborates on story world or information in text, connects literature or nonfiction to life experience(s), recognizes familiar textual features, codes and conventions that confirm own meaning(s)/message(s)

Reading Strategies: Text Grammars (Structures, Features, Codes and Conventions)

  • Constructs meaning(s)/message(s) by reinvesting her/his knowledge of the text as social construct, i.e. language-in-use:
    • Draws on cues in familiar structures, features, codes and conventions to make sense of texts
    • Identifies connotation and denotation of words, images and their referents
    • Makes connections between conventions of a familiar text type/genre and own response(s) /interpretation(s)
  • Applies contextual understanding when meaning breaks down:
    • Socio-cultural: draws on understanding of values and beliefs to make sense of incidents, events or message(s)

Reader, Text, Context: Interpreting Texts

  • Interprets the text for a familiar audience by drawing associations between own world of personal experiences and knowledge and the world of the text by considering:
    • Own characteristics as a reader and the constructed world of a text, e.g. comparison of own values and experiences with those presented in the text; issues, ideas or questions the text raises for her/him; experience with similar texts; attitudes towards subject/topic/character; personal interests
    • Initial, tentative impressions about the statement(s) or view of the world the author/narrator /producer is making
    • Features, codes and conventions of known text types/genres
  • With guidance, examines text in its literary and/or socio-cultural context:
    • Identifies features, codes and conventions used to achieve a recognized social purpose and/or function and/or effect and impact on self as reader, e.g. in a popular television commercial, in a humorous text
    • Connects, in a trial-and-error fashion, her/his understanding of some characteristics of narrator/writer/producer to what s/he notices about the view of the world presented in the text, e.g. reads “between the lines” to locate apparent values/beliefs of a character/narrator in a story, understands the intent of a fast food ad, sees that an opinion excludes certain points of view
  • Communicates interpretation(s) of a text in an individual voice, referring to prior experience, own reading profile and understanding of texts as social constructs:
    • Follows a process to compose, i.e. writes or produces own interpretation(s) of a text
    • Expresses own interpretation(s) with clarity, openness and confidence

Other subject-specific programs

Ethics and Religious Culture

Reflects on ethical questions

Analyzes a situation from an ethical point of view

  • Describes a situation and puts it into context
  • Formulates a related ethical question
  • Compares points of view
  • Explains tensions or conflicting values
  • Compares the situation with similar situations
  • Compares his/her analysis of the situation with that of his/her classmates

Examines a variety of cultural, moral, religious, scientific or social references

  • Finds the main references present in different points of view
  • Looks for the role and the meaning of these references
  • Considers other references
  • Compares the meaning of the main references in different contexts

Evaluates options or possible actions

  • Suggests options or possible actions
  • Studies the effects of these options or actions on oneself, others or the situation
  • Chooses options or actions that foster community life
  • Reflects on the factors that influenced these choices

Physical Education and Health

The Cycle One program states:

The messages conveyed by the media can have major repercussions on the behaviour of adolescents. Therefore, it is important that students be encouraged to maintain a critical distance with regard to the media. For example, during a big sports event, certain networks show violent images involving the athletes. Reports on doping, which some athletes resort to, raise ethical questions about respecting rules and about honesty and fair play. Advertising uses an infinite amount of female body images to demonstrate the effects of products that enable you to obtain the perfect body with no physical effort. This sometimes contradictory information cannot help but challenge students, who must exercise critical judgment when they situate this information in relation to the various contexts in which they develop the subject-specific competencies.

The broad area of learning Media Literacy is thus part of this program.