The jigsaw technique is a cooperative learning strategy which invites full participation of all students in classroom learning. Students will be assigned to jigsaw or “home” groups, each with no more than six members. Students in their home groups will then be delegated a different role/task/text for which they will be responsible in learning with an expert group. After acquiring expertise on their assigned tasks, students will return to their home groups to teach the other members what they have learned. For example, six students in each home group might be given a different real-world example of social networking as a mechanism of social activism (e.g. Obama’s election campaign, Arab Spring, Sochi Olympics) for which they are required to find specific information about the context, framing and social networking mechanism used. Each student will then go to an expert group where they might read an article or watch a video about the event. After coming to a consensus about the criteria for each event in expert groups, students will then report back to their home groups to learn from each other.
There are numerous pedagogical and learning benefits to this structure. This technique not only encourages participation from all students but also creates positive interdependence between students. This structure also naturally lends itself to differentiating the content to cater to the individual needs and interests of students. As long as educators are mindful and strategic about their groupings, level of texts, text contents and assigned roles can be tailored to the varying needs of students in the classroom. Finally, as a pragmatic benefit, the jigsaw technique provides a quick method to cover a lot of material in limited time.
To encourage students’ critical inquiry of their own media habits, it is necessary to keep a media diary at some point in the curriculum. Similar to the way a food diary increases awareness of mindless eating, the goal of the media diary is for students to realize how pervasive media is in their lives, whether they are directly consuming or not. Encourage students to track non-screen media as well — what billboards and advertisements do they see on their way to school and back? Journals should be used across units and should allow for a variety of media (images, text and video) to be included. After a week of tracking, discuss findings with the class or prompt students to write a reflection essay analyzing their consumption.
Too Quick to Click?
Test before you trust is a Common Sense Media worksheet for students to check to determine if a website is trustworthy. The worksheet walks students through 30 criteria to consider — from spelling and sources to advertising and tone. While it is not essential for students to go through such an exhaustive list every time they click on a link, completing the exercise will hopefully help them rethink their searching strategies when researching. Select a dozen or so websites for students to review as pairs or individually. Have students present their findings to the class.
In the second unit on media literacy, students will fill out a three-column Know-Want to Know-Learn (K-W-L) chart. The first two columns, “What do you know?” and “What do you want to know?” will be filled out at the beginning of the unit. Because experience with social media can vary so much based on a student’s access to technology, the “know” column will help determine what content areas the teacher should focus on. The “want to know” column should similarly guide a teacher’s decisions and aligns with our vision of student-negotiated curriculum. The “what I learned” column offers a chance for student self-reflection and can also act as a form of assessment for the teacher.
In our media literacy unit, students will grapple with ethical concerns in social media. In particular, students will debate whether or not businesses should be allowed to track user behavior for marketing purposes. Debating is an effective teaching tool that facilitates analytical thinking. The goal of this learning experience is for students to think critically about what information they are giving away on the web, and how that information is used. This lesson could be taught with scare-tactics from the teacher. A debate format allows students to discover the ethical concerns of social media on their own, and helps them construct a deeper connection to the knowledge than offered with a lecture.
A decision tree is a map of probable outcomes that weigh a range of options, which help individuals and groups make informed choices. As this curriculum addresses the importance of making sound decisions including expressions of self through media, interactions on social networking sites as well as taking strides in becoming more involved in civic engagement online, this strategy will be used across all three units. By constructing a visual of both the benefits and consequences of different options, students will not only be able to exercise this skill in the classroom, but also apply logical reasoning to the many critical decisions they need to make in their everyday interactions with others both off and online. The learning gained from this experience is intended to extend beyond the classroom.
Real or The Onion?
As a class, review an instance in which false information went viral online. For example, rumors of a celebrity’s death or Jimmy Kimmel’s wolves in Sochi prank. Discuss with class why people believed these events to be true. As a class, or in groups, scan through a 5-8 pre-selected news articles from a variety of sources (The Washington Post and The Onion, for example) and determine if the news is real or a hoax. Ask students how they came to their conclusions. You can also review internet rumors on Snopes for this activity. Discuss the implications of spreading false information online.
A silent conversation is a learning strategy inspired by the Freirian model of dialogue. In line with the curriculum’s commitment to an inclusive learning environment, students are provided a platform to share their thoughts and opinions with a partner without speaking. In many ways, this style of dialogue simulates the means by which students often communicate online, although the context in which this will occur in this curriculum, of course, is controlled. In Unit 3, students are given opportunities to converse with their peers in a controlled environment about their civic area of interest. Through this activity, students learn how to share their opinions by building off of others’ ideas thereby developing “allies” and “audiences” with which they will learn to collaborate.
Instructors and students will provide daily samples of content found via social networking sites. Content will include text, images and videos. As content is shared with class, students will be asked to record their impressions via feelings, thoughts and questions that the content provokes.
Example questions: How does this (text, image, or video) make me feel? What message(s) are being sent by the content? What does this tell me about the person who produced it? What do they want me to know?
This daily exercise is meant to “hook” the students into the lesson plan for the day. As more and more content is discussed, students will gain the ability to critically critique people’s personal motives behind what they produce and share.
Soy Rizo (I am loop): Identity Map
The Identity map lesson is meant to demonstrate to students how they gained their self concept. It will allow students to identify the key aspects of themselves that greatly influence their identity. They will learn key terms identity and individual in relation to personality and community. Students will be able to demonstrate understanding of the elements of themselves and how they influences their identity. Students will also come to learn how the identities of others were formed based on various physical, mental, and emotional traits. Students will gain a third person perspective to be able to answer guiding questions such as “What makes me who I am? and How do I see myself?” Students will also discuss the notion of the permanence of identity and under what circumstances it may be altered.
Compare & Contrast / Venn Diagrams
Comparing and contrasting information is key to critiquing media. Discerning the differences in coverage helps students conceptualize the idea of bias. In the media literacy unit, students will have multiple opportunities to compare and contrast media, through discussion, writing and poster presentations. Learning experiences include: comparing coverage of one current event across several media outlets, contrasting the web search results between slightly different keywords, comparing different medical diagnoses offered from websites based on a search of the same symptoms, contrasting the front pages/home pages of a region’s newspapers to compare what each decides to highlight and omit.
After a discussion of target audiences, students will find an advertisement (online or offline) targeted to them. Ask students to critique the ad’s messaging, both explicit and implicit, the images used, and whether they felt the ad to be effective and why. After analysis, students are tasked with redesigning the ad to better fit their interests. This activity could be expanded into a larger group project where students act as advertising agencies and attempt to target other students at school with their ads.