Starting a couple days after the students come back from Spring Break (that will be April 2nd), I will be starting a 10 day unit on media literacy. This will be my full two weeks of teaching, and allow me to put to work the media literacy unit that I prepared in my social studies methods class last semester. Using this unit in my current school will be a challenge, since it is a much different groups of students than I had in mind while preparing the unit. Instead of block classes, I will see the students once a day for just 50 minutes. We are lucky to have more than 40-45 mins of time to really work. The class sizes are much smaller. The largest class has less than 10 people (depending on attendance). Technology that I planned to use is available, but since my classes are all in different rooms transporting, restarting the equipment, and getting the resources set up will require extra set up time. There are a few things that require dramatic changes to the content-
1. Vocab, Vocab, Vocab. - A lot of the vocabulary that I had intended to use will not be practical in classes where the majority of students first language is not English, and for some, their English vocabulary is still very little. So the first thing I realized is that I was going to have to do a significant amount of contextualizing the unit before we begin. I will have to review (hopefully in a somewhat interesting way) a lot of vocabulary that relates to politics and media. Defining the initial terms and concepts will take up a good part of the first two days of the unit. Even still, there will be a lot to establish as we proceed to make sure that the students can take full advantage of the activities. Since this is the beginning of a larger trimester of studies on politics, media, and government, spending a couple days on context will be worth it.
2. Technological Literacy- During the last trimester we did a unit with the students on autiobiographies as historical evidence. We were having them set up MySpace pages as their own autiobiographies. We did not anticipate however how long the project would take because most students did not have an email account, did not know how to set up an email account, did not know how to make a MySpace account, what upload and download meant, and other technological skills. Surely, there will be similar hurdles in this unit as we attempt to do extensive internet searching, using YouTube and more.
3. Time and Depth- Because of some of the unique challenges that I will be facing, each of the lessons that I have prepared will take longer than I had planned for. I have cut back on some of the lessons and for some of them I have only cut out some of the activities. The vast majority of the lessons in this media literacy unit concentrate on learning important skills that students can use in a future increasingly dependent on technological literacy. The students will be learning about politics and government throughout this unit, but only in the process of learning how to find information, sort through it, analyze it, contextualize it, and more. I have also taken into account the student population in adapting this lesson so that I use examples that relate to their lives.
I am aware that I will not be able to get through all of the material I have set out, even in this abbreviated version of the unit, so I have prioritized the schedule at the same time as ensuring that it was properly scaffolded based on what the students come in knowing.
In addition, I have already begun the unit in a way by doing two lessons that fit into the unit in advance of the full two weeks. I have done two lessons so far...one on advertising and one on fact vs. opinion. I will provide some brief reaction to those lessons in my next post!