The challenge this week gives you two ends of a triangle: you’ve got a class: a 9th grade BR college prep class—not so old that middle school is a distant memory, not so smart that they will be so over it, not so young that we have to pretend nobody has sex or does drugs); you’ve got your media—any and all of the recordings accessible via the syllabus. How might you use this media and what texts would you pair with them—that’s the last leg of the magic triangle?
Scroll all the way down for a description of the class you are designing this assignment for.
You’ve got a real opportunity to be pretty creative here. You are welcome to talk about any of the texts we’ve covered so far or will cover in class. Or you can go with something else you’d want to teach. Or you can go with a canonical text that might well be included in the framework. Or you can do a little of all three. Additionally, if there is other supplemental media—movies, TV, radio, news items, non-fiction, art-work, dance, whatever—you are welcome to use that.
Why do this? One way we decolonize the classroom is to bring in "texts" that aren't print. Print text dominates the classroom and is seen, culturally, as more important. And yet texts that are not print dominate our lives and the lives of our students. Here is something to think about as you move from being a student to a teacher: you are all English majors. You love literature. Some of you love the pretty heavy stuff--Joyce, Shakespeare, Morrison. Most of you love to read--I mean really love it (I am that person; I read two novels last week that were not Gossip Girl). You will have classrooms filled with students who don't like to read and who don't do it well or often. And, also, you will have students who will go on to college or trade school and they will take, at most, one literature class: one. So the question to ask yourself as a future teacher is what is your actual job as a language arts teacher?
The frameworks stresses learning literary terms and concepts and exposure to literature, capital "L." All that is good. It's important and vital for students to have rich experiences with literature. But don't forget that the most important thing we teach our students is how to read and how to write. Anything. Not write only five paragraph essays. Not read only Shakespeare. I think it can be rough to think about. You've spent your entire college career studying literature, and now I'm telling you that teaching literature is not really the job. The job is literacy instruction. How to make students be good readers of all texts. And so a class that encourages students to apply the critical interpretive skills they would use reading Poe or Faulkner or Joyce is and should be what students do with any text, including the various media they will encounter in life much longer than they'll be in school and with much greater consequence if they do it badly.
THIS WEEK'S CLASS: You are teaching a 9th grade College Prep English class at Bridgewater/Raynham high school. You are working with a class of 35 students: 34 students are white, 1 student is Cape Verdean, 19 are female, 16 are male, one male student is openly gay.
The BR pass rate on the 10th grade MCAS is 84%.
Roughly 85% of the students in your class come from a household where at least one parent has some college education. You have two students in your class whose parents are on the faculty at Bridgewater State University.
You have limited access to technology in the classroom, but your students have access to computers, phones and the internet at home.
You can familiarize yourself with the school here.
As my contribution to the discussion: I have actually paired “Is your Dad Single?” with the stories we read during the first week of class, Girl & 7th grade, with actual rising 8th and 9th graders. I asked students to map out the story of “Is Your Dad Single?”—so what starts the story, what is the rising action, what is the climactic moment, the denouement, the “truth about life.” I ask them to do this graphically. It's a way to practice the kinds of analysis skills that they need for their entire high school and college career. But, since that piece is really about deciding on who you want to be in your own life, we look at Girl and 7th grade through that same lens—how do the various characters in each figure out who they are? (so now we are learning character analysis--another literary framework-y skill). That’s a final writing--they write a pretty traditional essay that they need to know how to do for things like MCAS and, well, lots of other school occasions. We draft, have a workshop, revise--you know that drill. Along the way, I embed a lot of low-stakes writing: I have them write about their own stories of figuring themselves out, of 7th grade, etc. I also ask them to identify the “rules” of being a boy—so write 7th Grade as a series of “you” statements, but about boys, based on the story. And I ask them to write a responsee to the mother-figure in Girl here they are responding to the rules as the girl being told how to behave. All this work requires listening, reading, note-taking. It requires working alone and in groups. It requires that they be able to prove a point about a text using the text as evidence. It gives them space to reflect personally. I really enjoy the entire sequence. We end with a very fun exercise where they make their own maps of their lives using giant post-its and these emoji pictures I picked up on amazon—who they are now, where they want to end up, how they are going to get there. They present that to the whole class. I do it with them. They marvel at the idea that a 50 year old could still possibly have a life plan.
3/1/2021 09:15:52 am
These three texts could be used very effectively to teach a lesson on memoirs, specifically short defining moments of students’ lives. These could be used as the transition into shorter more concise memoirs for students to engage with and create on their own. I would pair these three texts with I know why the Caged Bird Sings as a way to examine the differences between autobiography and memoir. Using these short podcasts are a great way for students who do better with oratory understanding to be able to grasp the idea of a moment centered memoir (kind of like the flash fiction piece that we did).
3/2/2021 08:24:27 am
3/2/2021 04:48:45 pm
3/2/2021 06:20:16 am
3/2/2021 10:37:47 am
We typically teach our students how to write a basic five-paragraph essay with the basic elements of intro, body paragraphs, and conclusion. For this class, I would want to introduce these students to other ways they can get their point across. I would want to demonstrate how writing can actually incorporate other modes of expressions, specifically technology. For this class, I would consider using “Is Your Dad Single?”, Gossip Girl, and an article with embedded audio files (a teacher last semester introduced this article to me, but unfortunately, I can’t find it anywhere). I would then ask the students to analyze how technology is used to support the main story in each of the texts. For example, “Is Your Dad Single?” uses the mode of audio/podcast to convey a story, Gossip Girl uses a gossip column to help convey a story, and the article uses audio files to support the written words in the story/article. I would ask my students if they felt the modes were effective and why. As a low-stakes assignment, I would ask them to do some research to locate other literature that uses multimedia to create a story. Once they have located a text or piece of some kind, I would ask them to write a short paragraph on if they felt the use of media in that source was effective and how it made a different impact than if that media had not been included. My hope is for students to think outside of the five-paragraph essay box and realize that writing can have an imaginative side to it, even in the academic world. Additionally, I think this assignment could be a good opportunity to discuss style and how we can make writing our own through the various techniques and styles we implement. I would end the lesson with a high-stakes assignment where I asked my students to use some form of media to convey their own texts/literature. After walking them through the writing process, each student would be given the opportunity to share with their classmates how they incorporated media within their own texts.
3/2/2021 01:45:25 pm
3/2/2021 01:37:52 pm
One of the things I have come to observe more and more through myself and the students that I work with is the students needing relatability and the ability to make choices about their assignments. For this particular reason, I would use “The Secret Letter” text by Poala Ayala. Firstly, I would have them read it individually as a paper transcribed copy. Once this individual task if finished I will have the entire class listen to the recorded version. This way they can hear the context of the text, the emotion displayed behind it. Another reason why is because it is short. With classes being on a timed schedule, and longer texts taking multiple classes I feel this is an assignment where the students can relate and comprehend in as little as one to possibly two classes given the activity of the discussion. I don’t think I have ever met a person who has at some point in their life, did not have a breach in privacy via parents, friends or other. But to have it be a misunderstanding and a miscommunication even more so, and in this case, it reveals a very big truth about the author that she was fearful about admitting, until she realizes that she doesn’t need to. So, being a short personal narrative, I would ask the students to identify the different characters, their roles and the respected responses via our main character, the author. My next step would be to have them discuss in small groups what similar moments they have had in their lives and if/how it affected them, if they don’t have anything to share or aren’t comfortable sharing then they may choose to make up a narrative that would be realistic to their lives. Now, after these discussions their ticket to leave will be a written summary of their own story, at most a page long. This will be the start of a rough draft assignment that can be finished in the next class to work on detailing and making the content relatable for the reader.
3/2/2021 04:39:59 pm
Hi Ashley! I think it is a great idea to have students read and listen to the podcast. It is also helpful because if a student does not remember something they heard in the podcast, they have it in writing as well. I enjoy how you give an option of making up a narrative if a student is not comfortable, because it allows for creative flexibility, which I find extremely important when it comes to writing. I am not going to be a teacher, but if there is one thing I know, it is that writing often scares students and that needs to be changed. Allowing students to have different creative options allows for more interest and engagement. Great thoughts!
3/2/2021 04:45:23 pm
3/2/2021 01:52:01 pm
The three podcasts we listened to this week all deal with experiences that can reach a 9th grade audience. To begin the lesson, I would have students listen to the podcast “Maybe” by Jessica Lee Williamson and read the short story “7th Grade” by Gary Soto. After listening, I would ask them to write down similarities and differences between the two stories since it helps them delve into some basic analysis. It also allows for them to practice comparing a written piece, to a spoken experience. I would expect some answers along the lines of, - they are similar because in both stories they get embarrassed, and, they are different because Jessica learns to overcome her fear of other people's judgment and gains confidence, while Victor only gains confidence based off what others think of him. After having them write similarities and differences, I would give them a short writing to do in class which asks one of two questions: “1. Write about a time that you did something silly in order to fit in. How did it feel? Was it embarrassing? Or 2. Write about a time you have overcame a fear or learned to deal with that fear. How did you do it? Did it take a long time?”. Short writing assignments allow for students to become more involved with what they are reading or listening to and allow for them to relate directly to the stories. It also allows students to get creative if they choose to do so, because I would allow them to make up a story, if they did not want to write about a personal experience. This would allow for an even broader range of ideas to be explored and possibly allow for more interest from students. After discussing both the podcast and the story, I will have the students watch the documentary, The Social Dilemma directed by Jeff Orlowski. The documentary discusses the dangers that the media poses on individuals, and the high rates of anxiety and depression it causes among teens. It is a good way of allowing students to become engaged with the current world around them and become aware of the saddening effects of social media. Before watching the documentary, I will ask students if they would ever delete their social media accounts, and then after watching it, I will ask the same question. I assume many would still answer no, but it would be interesting to see if there has been any change of opinions. Lastly, I would have students' team up and make a poster of a new type of social media that builds people up, instead of tearing them down-such as an app or a website. It would be a good way for them to reflect on the documentary and learn how to make changes for the betterment of society. To end the lesson, I would read a passage from the novel Little Women by Louisa May Alcott where the March girls put on a play in their living room, to show students how people entertained themselves before the media or tv, and to possibly interest them in reading the novel themselves.
3/2/2021 04:41:58 pm
Brittany Ann Oppenheimer
3/2/2021 01:58:18 pm
Ok, so. Teaching is a little out of my realm here but I will try my best to come up with something that sounds practical.
3/2/2021 04:38:44 pm
3/2/2021 04:34:15 pm
In order for my student to understand how both the plotline and characters of a story are developed, I would have them interact with a selected podcast as well as the text Gossip Girl. To start, I would assign each student a podcast listed on the syllabus while keeping a character of their choice from Gossip Girl in their minds. After getting familiar with the style and technique of developing a podcast, I would ask the students to create their own version of a podcast as their chosen character from Gossip Girl. I would ask them to pick an important defining moment or scene that the character was involved in and have them write their own improvised podcast script as if they were the character retelling a story or sequence of events. To do this, I would first ask the students to reflect on what they have already read in the book and see if there’s a chapter or issue that stands out to them in particular. Since Gossip Girl is a widely popular TV show, I would allow the students to spend time on the internet to watch some of the series in order to gauge the attitudes and characteristics of the character they chose, or even look to see if the scene they took from the book is portrayed in the show as well. I would ask them to write out qualities that are attributed to their character, such as their word choice or cadence, and have them incorporate those characteristics into their podcast script so they are able to understand how these characters are developed. I also would have the students brainstorm words that came to their mind after listening to the podcast, and how these qualities would be reflected through the character they chose. For homework, I would ask the students to record an audio version of their script roleplaying as their chosen character retelling their selected scene, and start the next class off by sharing some of their recordings.
3/2/2021 08:18:32 pm
I do like the conceit of this assignment in the way that it tries to utilize the modality of an audio-type mentor text and apply it to a demonstration of their understanding of another text. I feel like there could maybe be some practicality issues though that may or may not be much of an issue. I do like the idea of using the show to sort of visualize the characters better in concept, but that would require extra preparation in that you would probably have to prepare timestamps or hope there are clips of the scenes they pick that are readily available. Otherwise, I feel like they would be pretty resentful if they assumed you were expecting them to scroll through the show to maybe find the scene they were looking for, assuming it was even adapted accurately or at all. Speaking of which, as you mention, the show may have done certain things differently which could be it's own interesting element to the assignment, but as an aid for visualizing a scene in the book they're trying to talk about, it might not be as helpful.
Nicholas A Ceniseroz
3/2/2021 04:37:39 pm
Supposing we were reading Little Women (it could be any book, I just like this as an example for the purposes of the assignment), I would have them read a chapter of that, listen to "The Secret Letter" audio, and I would select a clip of a comedian telling a brief story on Youtube. Then after reading/listening/watching them once, go through them and jot down all the noteworthy events/points/details that make up the story, preferably in order of it being told to make the following parts easier. I would want them to be as thorough as possible, though, not to the extent that they're basically just rewriting it sentence for sentence. Then, once they have done that, I want the students to look at the details they have recorded, and then paraphrase the stories in just one paragraph. It should adequately summarize the story, but ideally without the paragraph getting too bloated. This is for the sake of exercising their ability to pick out the details and main ideas that are and aren't important in a narrative.
3/2/2021 07:34:29 pm
I really like your lesson proposal, Nicholas. I especially like how you are trying to teach a strategy that will enable students to succeed beyond the classroom. As this is a college prep course, it is smart to teach strategies that can help them analyze more difficult texts/videos. I also like the way you draw the students to pick out the important details. This is something we teach from early grades, however; when texts become more confusing, it can be difficult to discern between important details and filler details.
3/2/2021 09:53:30 pm
After listening to the podcasts in class, I would lead a brief discussion on theme, trying to reach the idea that each story is centered around “being yourself”, but asking if the students could identify more themes: rebellion, loneliness, family dynamics, fairness, and perseverance, among others. How do the texts elicit sympathy, how are they relatable? Why do they resonate so deeply? Examples could be stage fright, from Maybe, a Christmas Day disappointment from Is Your Dad Single? or a big secret, like in A Secret Letter.
3/3/2021 03:39:53 pm
Lesson Name→ Critical Thinking and start practicing creating outlines for papers
3/4/2021 11:07:18 am
It is very evident that media and technology are a driving force of society today, especially in education. Classrooms from preschool to graduate school are using technology as a tool to better learning abilities and experiences but this also comes with understanding how to properly incorporate it into the classroom without being the focus of the learning. When thinking about a middle class american ninth grade class in 2021 it is automatically known that these students have and use technology and media very well. For this English class involving technology in an assignment is more likely to make the students interested in participating. In this lesson I would start by having the students listen to the podcast “Is your dad single”. While listening to the podcast I would have them write down the big parts of her story that led to a different behavior for example “Her dad told her grandma she wasn’t doing anything interesting so as a result of hearing that she decided to really not do anything” or “Her step brother got better grades then she did as a result she felt bad about her work and started doing worse”. After I would have them discuss the major changes they chose to write down and have them connect it to something in their life. I would do this lesson while having them read “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid. I would have the students write similar notes about Girl such as writing what her mother tells her to do and what will happen if she does not for example “Her mother tells her she needs to dress nice or if not she will be called a “slut”.” Now to include technology through more than a podcast I would then have the students do a comparing and contrasting activity relating to how a teenager is expected to act based on these two pieces of media.
3/5/2021 08:11:26 pm
For my lesson, I would use “7th Grade”, “Girl”, and excerpts from Little Women and Gossip Girl.
3/9/2021 12:01:47 pm
While I was observe I notice that I have to work with students who need to be more relatability and ability to make their own choices. I would use "The Secret Letter" by Poala Ayala, first I would have my students to read in a group or individually as a paper transcribed copy. After the students finished listening to the version of recorder, it can help them to learn to the context and text and what the emotion is displayed. Also another reason is that its can be short. The classes would be timed schedule, and long how it take them to complete an assignment. This assignment can relate and comprehend in the activity of the discussion. Misunderstanding and a miscommunication even more so, and in this case, it reveals a very big truth about the author that she was fearful about admitting, until she realizes that she doesn’t need to.
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