Friday, November 21, 2008

lessons from media

I like to think of myself as an innovative teacher. I think outside the traditional box. As a matter of fact, I try to avoid the box altogether. I am allowed a lot of freedoms at my school since it's somewhat of a special interest program. We believe student outcomes are greater than test scores. A mark of a good education is that people can think for themselves and can learn on their own. So we try to do lessons that teach that instead of just names and dates.
This week, I needed something. I didn't have anything in the lesson books. Then, last week while watching a training video, the speaker mentioned something about the use of songs and how students can relate modern day lyrics to the book their reading about Medieval times (as an example).
I've always been a believer that songs, movies and TV shows can teach us a lot. As a matter of fact, I've been tempted to write whole series of blogs around that very topic. And I still just might.
But this week, I decided to take that concept to my classroom. I wanted them to review the concepts we had studied about the U.S. before we moved on to other countries. I also wanted them to see those concepts go beyond the Social Studies classroom. They are everywhere. If media is a reflection of real life, and media talks about these concepts, then these concepts are real life. I wanted them to see the concepts and make them real.
During the first half of the week, in class, we watched clips from Friends (Geography), Remember the Titans (Integration), Footloose (Rights), and A League of Their Own (prejudice - sexism) and also listened to Michael Jackson's song Black or White (prejudice - racism) and Carrie Underwood's song, I Aint in Checotah Anymore (Geography).
Then, we finished off the week by listening to clips from Michael Jackson's song, Man in the Mirror (open-ended), U2's song Pride (In the Name of Love) (Civil Rights Movement) and No Doubt's Different People (Integration). They were also shown clips from National Treasure (History), The Little Mermaid (Prejudice) and my personal favorite, Napoleon Dynomite (Elections).
The first time through the clips, I provided the answers for them (What topic does this fit (see parentheses)? Describe the clip. How does the clip represent the topic?). Then, during the last part of the week, they had to come up with the answers on their own in a small group. Watching something and then being able to tell me how it relates to what they studied in class is a skill that may not ever be tested, but by golly, it's real learning. I hope they have the ability to do that with everything they watch or listen to from now on.
I just really liked this lesson and how it turned out. I had to brag. I hope you like it, too.
Oh, but don't let the word spread too much, I didn't exactly seek administrator approval for the showing of clips (I think I may have needed to), but I made sure not to show anything above PG and I could clearly relate it to my curriculum, so I shouldnt get in too much trouble ;)


Anonymous said...

my husband (and yours, i'm sure!) would be beaming with pride to know that you used a U2 song with your class :)

Darcie said...

Your kids are lucky to have a teacher that's willing to risk breaking outside of the box as well going to so much work to come up with develop such a cool lesson. You should remind them of that :)

Rachel said...

Oh T, I so appreciate that your love for movies and tv has spilled over into the classroom :) But seriously, I know I always appreciated lessons that were out of the ordinary, so I'm sure your kids loved it.