Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Final Project: Incorporating Media into Existing Teaching Strategies

Sub day... Movie. Work day... Movie. No idea what to do today... Movie. In classes across numerous content areas, media often acts as a filler for times when the teacher is gone, needs a break, or is completely unprepared for the day's lesson. This final project will explore the use of media to emphasize existing teaching strategies, rather than replacing them.

The project has been split into sections, with each title identifying a specific teaching strategy. Within each section, you will find activities from existing lesson plans, media clips, and an explanation regarding the use of media to intensify these teaching strategies.

The ulitmate goal of this project is to identify how media, when used properly in the classroom, can develop, elaborate, or intensify numerous teaching strategies across content areas.

Media Use: Scaffolding

Lesson Plan Activities:
Introduction: As students walk into the class, have the song “I'll Be There For You” projected with music and video. When song is finished, pose the following questions to students:
a. What makes a good friend?
b. Which of these qualities does this song highlight?

1. Quick Summary: Compare friendships in “House on Mango Street” to friendships often idealized in society, like those highlighted in the song:
a. Is this a realistic portrayal?
b. Are these true friendships?

2. Circuit Popcorn Activity: As an entire class, popcorn the excerpt from 'The Circuit'. Compare this type of friendship to those relationships in Cisneros' life.
a. Which type of friendship is better?
b. Why are these relationships so dysfunctional?
c. How do your friendships influence your identity?

3. Realistic Vows: Rewrite the wedding vows to become friendship vows. Have students think about the their friendships. Purpose the following questions:
What would you want to commit to? What would you expect?
Be funny, be creative, be yourself. These should be unique to you.
They must be at least a half page long!

Have students write in quiet, then ask for a few volunteers to read their work. This is the exit slip at the door. Be sure to give let students know periodically how much time they have left to finish this assignment (ten minutes, five minutes, etc).

In this case, the media clip is not the center of the lesson, but rather a stepping off point for discussion. Students are able to generate a working definition of a 'good friend' based on what is higlighted in this song and their personal experiences. When the lesson progresses to deaper reading ("The Circuit" excerpt), students are still able to discuss friendships in this reading based on their discoveries from the music clip. Ultimately, this use of media scaffolds, or builds, the students' understandings; this allows them to tackle more complicated texts with a level of ease that would have otherwise been missing from this lesson.

Media Use: Entry Points

Lesson Plan Activities:

1. Review behavior in class-
-all have bad days
-going to be examining how those days can be a learning experience

2. Victim- write this word on the board inside a big circle
a. language of a victim- have students think of times when they didn't do their homework, were acting unruly, or made bad decisions. Make a list of these thoughts/explanations inside the victim circle.
b. have students compare these thoughts to their free write of a victim. Do these things look like something a victim would say?
*play Pink 'Don't Want to Get Me' song

c. what are the downfalls of being a victim? Put on board.

3. Punisher- other option (add to graphic organizer on the board)
a. what does a punisher do? Put on board
*play Disturbed 'Sickness' song

b. What are the downfalls of being a punisher? Put on board.

4. Rescuer- other option (add to graphic organizer on the board)
a. what does a rescuer do? Put on board.
*play Owen 'Don't Think I Can't Love You' song

b. What are the downfalls of being a rescuer? Put on board.

5. Link these roles to high school- students becoming victims
a. How have you taken a victim role in this classroom? In this high school?
b. how do you stop being a victim?
c. What other roles can you take in this class? In this school? (add to board)

6. My role- teacher
a. not rescuer
b. not punisher
c. guide, assistant, illustrator


In this lesson, students may not be familiar with the terms 'victim', 'punisher', or 'rescuer'. However, using songs to highlight these roles gives students a familiar entry point, or way to approach the material. Each of these songs highlights important characteristics, actions, and behaviors of the specified role. After hearing these songs and reading the lyrics, students can move on to create concrete definitions of a term that may be very foreign to many adolescents. Ultimately, media provides students a concrete entry point to the definitions of abstract words.

Media Use: Multiple Intelligences

Lesson Plan Activities:

1. Historical Application: “Let's make a list of everything we know about the word in terms of its history.” After students generate a list on the board, ask the following questions-
a. Where did you learn this historical information?
b. Does this history influence your use of the n word? Link to Channel One Survey.

2. Cultural Application: “The history of the n word often seems to be far away from us. I want to bring this word into our reality and discuss it in terms of cultural uses. This word first started appearing in mainstream language in comedy.”
Show clips of Richard Pryor using the word.

Ask for student reactions to this clip. Show Pryor's new act without the word. Ask for reactions to this clip. “Most recently, this word has found itself in rap culture.” Play Nas NIGGER song with lyrics.

3. Circle Discussion: Link historical and cultural implications by listing arguments Francis says in his essay (homework). Arguments highlighted by the students should include the following:
a. The word just slips out in discussions
b. It is different if a white person vs a black person uses it
c. The word 'nigga' is different than 'nigger'
d. Some situations are okay to use the word
e. Each person should make their own decision about the word
Put each argument on a large piece of white tacky paper (Large Post it Pad). Disperse them around the room. Have students count off one to X (how ever many arguments there are). Give each group of students two minutes at each paper, writing a collective response to the original statement or remarks from previous groups.

Play the Def Jam slam poem regarding the n word.

Afterwards, have students think, pair, share about their reactions to this video compared to Julius' arguments (on the white papers). Bring the class back to big group, posing these questions:
a. Does Julius (Def Jam) agree or disagree with Francis based on our circle discussion argument?
b. What does Julius pose as a solution to the n word? How about Francis?

4. Classroom Application: “We've spent the hour talking about the n word. Now we need to decide how to address this word in our classroom. Whatever we decide, as a class, will be the expectation for the rest of the semester.”

Have students pose solutions to this word in our literature. Examples include: not saying the word, saying it only in reference to the text, saying it freely in the classroom, leaving it up to individual discretion. Come to a general consensus regarding the use of this word in the class.
This lesson contains a vast degree of teaching tools: songs, video clips, silent reading, group discussion, entire class discussion. Each of these tools represents a level of multiple intelligences. Students may be auditory, visual, spacial, kinestic, social, or exclusionary learners. Whatever the type of intelligence, each student is given an entry into this lesson. Ultimately, media is used in these activities to engage the auditory, visual, and social learners.

Media Use: Differentiation

Lesson Plan Activities:

1. Jigsaw Activity: Instruct students about how jigsaw works, letting them know each of them will be responsible for reporting to a different group, so pay attention in this first group! Students will sit with their numbered groups and discuss the following board prompts:
a. Give a brief summary of the story.
b. Find one interesting thing about this story to share with the other group. After students have discussed these prompts in their groups, each student in that group will number 1-5 (or 6 depending on attendance numbers). Students will find their new groups (all 1's together, all 2's, etc) and discuss their story. Students will take notes on the other stories while they are being presented. These will be turned in, compiled, and posted to the blog. The class will come back together and discuss parallels between the two stories. Roles in a family will be highlighted during this entire class discussion.

2. Tu Pac “Dear Mama” dissection: Play 'Dear Mama' for students, with lyrics, up on the board. When finished, ask students about Tu Pac's mother's role in the family. Have students evaluate her role as either helpful or harmful to the family unit.

3. “Sylvia Plath- Daddy Poem”: Read this poem aloud with students. Dissect her relationship with her father, and her role in the family unit. Have students evaluate her role as either helpful or harmful to the family unit.

4. Class Discussion: Using what they have gathered from the multiple texts, have students describe the family roles being illustrated. How do these characters fit into these families? Is this structure 'healthy' for their identity? Why/Why not?
The Tu Pac video and lyrics help to create a wide variety of leveled texts for students. Struggling students will use 'House on Mango Street' as a jump off point for discussion. Main stream ability students will refer to Tu Pac lyrics when discussing family roles. Higher ability students will be referencing Sylvia Plath regarding family dynamics. In this lesson, each level of ability is given a foundation for the class discussion. Ultimately, this media clip has given mainstream students something to reference when discussing family units, roles, and responsibilities.

Final Project: Conclusion

This project has attempted to illustrate the benefits of incorporating media to enhance, rather than replace, essential teaching strategies. Media can be used to scaffold important criteria, create entry points for unfamiliar content, enhance multiple intelligence learning in an intertwined unit, or emphasize differentiation in an entire class lesson. Ultimately, media should be utilized as a tool, rather than a crutch, in our current educational settings.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Week Nine- Ray Charles' "Georgia" Historical Implications?

In 1960, Ray Charles created a rendition of the song, "Georgia on My Mind". This song was written by Stuart Gorrell and Hoagy Carmichael in 1931, but did not become a hit until Charles recorded it nearly thirty years later. A native to Georgia, Charles hoped to revive the reputation of this deeply southern state.

In contrast, this song was perceived as a source of conflict for those who watched the boxoffice hit movie "Ray". In this movie, Ray (played by Jamie Foxx) arrives to a protest outside his Georgia concert. Refusing to play in front of a segregated audience, Charles cancels his show and immediantly leaves the venue. Because of his refusal to play, Charles is banned from performing in Georgia. Movie watchers were left with a taste of racism and separation; these are exactly the images Charles intended to destroy with the recording of this song.

In Charles' real performing career, this scene never happened! Charles did cancel a Georgia show and pay refunds to his fans. However, there was no protest outside of the venue, and it's not known why the concert was cancelled- it could have been due to Charles' extensive drug addictions. Charles was never 'banned' from performing in this state. In fact, the state of Georgia made "Georgia on My Mind" the official state song in 1979.

This is an excellent example of how media can influence the perceptions and beliefs of an audience. Media influence is powerful enough to even cause influence among mediums. One media outlet ('Georgia' song) can be influenced by another media outlet ('Ray' movie). Ultimately, audiences must be educated regarding the immense influence of media to prevent the continuance of false information.

Regardless of your perceptions of Charles' hit song, there's no denying"Georgia on My Mind" is an incredible contribution to the music industry.