Anne “Bossie” Douris
If you’ve been putting off learning Google Forms then it’s time to take the plunge. A free training sessions will take place on NOVEMBER 22ND, 2018 for all Toronto District School Board teachers.
Registration is MANDATORY but also FREE! It can be completed through:
Sign up for TLT421-A to attend the session led by Michael Barltrop and Brian Harriman.
You will walk away with a printed hardcopy of the WhatBinder.com INTRODUCTION TO GOOGLE FORMS. This will take you from ZERO to BEGINNER knowledge all the way to creating SELF-MARKING tests and quizzes!
LITERACY SKILLS are the key, transferable skills required to process, and understand the multitude of TEXTS we encounter every day. From VISUAL to AUDITORY, from video games to novels, we rely on our skills to make meaning and ascertain messages.
Like all skills, they must be developed, honed, and practiced. One of the best ways to INTRODUCE or REINFORCE these skills with your students in through the use of SHORT STORIES. For that reason, a number of lessons have been developed for specific stories.
For a primer on the TEN KEY LITERACY SKILLS you should review the following articles:
Each Lesson is fully explained and laid out in a WEB BASED format, that explains what PRIOR KNOWLEDGE is required, and what the NEXT STEPS should be.
MORE IMPORTANTLY each lesson comes with a FREE DOWNLOADABLE PDF of the lesson that is CLASSROOM-READY to be copied and handed to students for immediate use!
If you would like to SUPPORT ME you can choose to purchase the FULL PACKAGES of resources through my TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS account. However, this is not necessary, and all individual assignments are completely FREE through this site.
You can introduce a class to one text, and have them work through all TEN assignments based on the specific text. However, you may also find it more valuable to progress through the ten skills using a VARIETY of texts. As each collection uses the same framework, and basic assignments, you will have no problem switching from one story to the next, so long as you MAINTAIN the order in which you tackle the TEN SKILLS.
Below you will find links to the specific SHORT STORIES for which LITERACY SKILLS ASSIGNMENTS have been created. Feel free to comment with recommendations for additional stories.
Formal essays, and short writing pieces can often leave students grasping to understand why their assessment doesn’t match their expectations. This is because there are a number of common mistakes that students make. In a number of cases, this isn’t even their fault as, often, they aren’t even taught to look for them.
Here are FIVE common mistakes students make in their formal writing.
The FORMAL VOICE is used to remove both the author and the reader from the piece of writing. When you write an essay you want your writing to stand alone, presented from the perspective of an expert who does not need to involve themself in the piece.
The FORMAL VOICE requires that students DO NOT use “I”, “you”, “we”, “my”, or other similar pronouns in their piece.
Poor Example: I think that Batman is the best book, and you will like it because he’s cool.
Better Example: Batman is the best book. One will enjoy it, as Batman is cool.
In the first example the author involves themselves by stating, “I think…”. This problem is overcome in the better example by simply stating the fact that they believe. It is implied that the statement is what they think, as they are the author of the piece.
Next, the first example is problematic as it involves the reader by stating “you will…”. The better example solves this problem by using the FORMALLY REMOVED term “one”. Should you ever need to refer to an other in your formal text, using the term “one” helps overcome the use of informal language.
In a formal piece of writing the reader should not have to GUESS or make ASSUMPTIONS. Students often will write vague or unspecific sentences that remove credibility from their otherwise strong impact.
Using terms like “probably”, “may”, “sometimes”, or “many” often (but not always as is the case with the use of the term often in this sentence) remove confidence and credibility from a formal piece.
Poor Example: You may like Batman, because he sometimes acts as a hero, which is something you’ll probably enjoy.
Better Example: One will enjoy Batman comics as he is a hero. The reader will be engaged by his actions.
In the first example the reader states that one “may” like Batman. As their duty is to prove that the reader will like Batman, they have already created a self-imposed roadblock for success. Rather than stating that one “may” like Batman, they need only say that one “will” like Batman.
Next, rather than explaining that the reader will “probably” enjoy something that Batman “sometimes” does, they can be sure, confident, and direct by stating that the reader “will” enjoy the actions that Batman takes. While Batman may not always do the same thing, that doesn’t need to be expressly stated – as it is assumed that characters take a variety of actions.
Even if the reader wants to draw attention to the fact that Batman makes different choices based on the specifics of a situation, they should give SPECIFIC EXAMPLES rather than just stating “Sometimes Batman does this, and other times he does that.”
When you are making a point, you must ALWAYS SUPPORT IT with SPECIFIC TEXTUAL DETAILS. It’s not enough to claim that something is true – it must be supported with examples that come from specifically summarizing an event or text, or from direct quotations from the source.
Students make claims but fail to support them with specific examples that prove the claim to the reader. Students feel that because they know something is true, or obvious, the reader should as well.
The trap of the obvious is what normally leads to students failing to use specific examples.
Poor Example: This text is great because Batman stops criminals.
Better Example: This text highlights the importance of the failing Justice System when Batman decides to stop the Organized crime boss, Falcone, by becoming a vigilante.
In the second example the reader doesn’t simply state the vague idea that “Batman stops criminals”. Instead, they point out that “Batman … stop[s] … Falcone”. This specific example allows the reader to fully understand the impact and importance of the action, while also offering specific evidence from their text.
The second example also explains that the “text is great” without needing to state that, as the reason the text is great is clearly pointed out: It “highlights the importance of the failing Justice System”.
Formal writing should be filled with FACTS and DETAILS. At times students decide to add an emotional explanation to their piece which is better left to the reader to arrive at on their own.
When students write that something is “unfortunate” or “sad” they are adding an emotional slant to their piece. Likewise, when students write that a “great” or “exciting” event has occurred, they are similarly tarnishing the integrity of their piece by remaining removed from it.
Poor Example: It was sad when Batman discovered the Joker had lead to the upsetting death of Barbara’s child.
Better Example: Joker’s use of an electric buzzer caused the death of Barbara’s child, leading to Batman’s relentless hunt.
The first example tells the reader that the event was “sad” and that the death was “upsetting”. In both cases, these can be removed as the specific details of the event are more than enough to convince the reader of the emotional resonance of the actions.
By remaining removed from the emotional subtext, the reader is allowed to come to their own conclusions based on the facts and evidence provided.
While we have already seen how to keep the reader removed by removing the use of pronouns that specifically refer to them, it is just as important to keep a formal piece as a one way piece of communication.
A piece of formal writing is NOT a CONVERSATION. Due to that, the writer should not ask questions of the reader, as they have no way to answer. Now, many of you may be asking, “but what about rhetorical questions?” There’s obviously no need to address that is there?
I won’t leave that as an unanswered rhetorical question. While there is a place for them, students often have a hard time using them effectively, and their use normally leads to them undermining their own piece. While they can be powerful, they require EXPLICIT direct instruction as to their effective use.
Involving the reader in a ONE SIDED DIALOGUE looks like the use of a QUESTION MARK. There is rarely a reason for a question mark to exist in a piece of formal writing. The purpose of the formal piece is to impart knowledge, not to seek it.
Poor Example: Do you like superheroes? Then you’ll dig on Batman!
Better Example: Superheroes are popular in modern film and television. This popularity translates to one’s enjoyment with written text as well.
In the second example the write simply explains that readers most likely enjoy superheroes. And, rather than “dig[ging] Batman” it explains that the “popularity translates to … enjoyment”.
By keeping the question out of the piece, the reader is better able to continue reading the piece, without having their flow interrupted by being abruptly addressed and forced to stop and consider something before moving on.
The best way to demonstrate that you understand something is to explain it to someone else. Allow students the opportunity to demonstrate that they understand a concept by flipping expectations and allow them to create assignments rather than complete them.
This lesson focuses on having students READ A SHORT STORY and then break into small groups (I suggest four as a manageable number). Each group will be assigned one of the TEN KEY LITERACY SKILLS and work to create an assignment that will allow other students to demonstrate their mastery of that skill.
Students must have already been introduced to the ten literacy skills. I recommend using a one or two page short story before spending two days quickly running through each of the ten skills. For more information on teaching the skills please refer to the LITERACY SKILLS – AN INTRODUCTION series.
Students will need to have read a SHORT STORY and be prepared to apply their Literacy Skill knowledge to the piece.
At least one student per group will require access to a device capable of using GOOGLE DOCs or MICROSOFT WORD. While Microsoft Word is an effective tool, it is more beneficial if students use Google Docs. That way they can SHARE their working assignment with each other, using multiple devices to co-author their piece at the same time.
This lesson plan will reinforce student knowledge of the ten key literacy skills, while also strengthening their knowledge of their group’s assigned skill. By creating an assignment they will learn how to use digital HEADINGS to format and chunk their work, creating a framework of expectations for assignments their teachers create for them. Students will also engage in METACOGNITIVE reflection, exploring why their choices were most effective.
Desks must be arranged into groups of four. A copy of Ten Key Literacy Skills.PDF must be printed out and cut into ten slips (one per literacy skill).
Desks will be prepared in groups of four when students walk into the classroom. Each desk group will have one Literacy Skill slip (see preparation) on it. One of the following images will be made available for students to see.
Students will be tasked with applying their specific skill to the image. Each group should write a brief P.E.E. PARAGRAPH that supports their use of the group’s skill.
Students should then present their paragraph to the class, while explaining the importance of their assigned literacy skill.
Once students have a strong understanding of their specific skill, and have applied it to a visual image, they will be ready to begin the focus of this lesson.
This lesson can be run completely in the computer lab, or it can be split into two days – the first day for IDEATION and the second day for typing up and formatting their assignment.
Students will be instructed to take out their SHORT STORY from a previous class and consider how they could apply their Literacy Skill to that story. They will have five minutes to plan and take brief notes as a group.
After some time has been given to consider the application of their skills, students will be handed a copy of Assignment Creation Assignment – Literacy Skills (No Example).PDF
Using that handout, students will see that rather than answering questions, and creating a traditional assignment, as they are used to, they will – instead – be the ones responsible for creating the assignment.
The various sections of a strong assignment are laid out of the sheet, and the specific headings that each title needs to be typed in are recorded.
Students will notice that they are creating an assignment in the same style and format as the one they have been handed. The assignment itself is an exemplar.
Should you wish to offer an additional exemplar, student can be given the Strength through Synthesis – Working Through the Short Story.PDF assignment.
At this point, students are free to work on their creation.
Just before the end of class, each group will be asked to write down ONE question, concern, or problem that is hindering them in the completion of their assignment. This will be handed to the teacher before they leave the classroom.
The teacher will then read through those slips, noting any difficulties students are having with this new style of task, and work to create resources or instructions for tomorrow’s class that will help students find success.
Continue to learn about the best ways to TEACH THE KEY LITERACY SKILLS, or choose to focus on one of the following: Summarizing, Determining Importance, Inferring, Predicting, Connecting, Visualizing, Comparing, Questioning, Annotating, or Synthesizing.
This page contains all the downloadable resources for the Teaching Gender Representation in the Media lessons. While each lesson is a classroom-ready three part lesson, the various resources have all been collected in this location for teaching convenience.
All resources and lessons can be used for non-commercial classroom use.
Regardless of age, everyone has a memory of a toy that they loved when they were a child, or a toy they wanted but they were never given. The things we play with help determine the people we grow into. This lesson focuses on separating boy toys from girl toys while pausing to take a look at why we sorted the objects the way we did.
Building off of the foundation from The Toy Box we look further into the gender normative roles students feel they need to fulfill. By confronting prejudices and allowing students to speak openly about their experiences, the foundation is strengthened with shared experiences and concepts.
By examining a number of historical and contemporary advertisements, students will begin to see how ludicrous modern messaging is when primed through the problematic advertisements of decades past. Students will then have an opportunity to examine advertisements that they experience through the same lens.
Building on the concepts from the last lesson, students will choose specific advertisements, analyzing them through all three sides of the Media Triangle. Students will then present their findings to the class, allowing all students to take an in-depth look at a variety of contemporary texts and the problematic nature of their messaging.
Students will consider the reasons behind Gender Normative behaviours, and create a R.A.F.T. (Role, Audience, Format, Topic) letter that will help them formalize their thoughts.
Students will be challenged to explore their personal space, school, community, and beyond. During their explorations, they will identify both positive and negative messaging, while seeking to understand how to create lasting impact and change
Students need to be empowered to become agents of change in the world. Digital communication and social media are powerful tools that our students are already familiar with; showing them how to utilize these tools to enact real change allows them to reshape the media landscape that surrounds them.
Having already looked at targetted writing focused on gender normativity during our previous RAFT assignment, students are familiar with how to write about their concerns. Now they will be shown how to take that writing outside of the classroom, and send it to those that can make a difference.
This lesson is part of a large mini-unit on Teaching Gender Representation in the Media. It can be used as a stand-alone piece or part of a larger conversation.
There are three separate things that should be on the board at the beginning of class. Students should be encouraged to choose one, two, or three of the activities to engage with. Depending on their level of interest, they may be willing to completely focus on one of the pieces, or they may wish to quickly complete each of the three.
The first thing you will need to do is pick a still image or video that displays problematic gender messaging. This could be the picture of a toy store, a specific toy, a commercial, a television show, a video game, or anything else that depicts problematic gender messaging.
Once you have selected and displayed the image, students will be able to choose one to three of the following activities to complete using that piece.
Students should think of hastags that draw attention to the problem. Hashtags are normally short (less than twenty characters) terms that draw attention to something. Using sarcasm or irony is a great way to interest a reader and lead them to share it on their own social media account.
Students should also be asked to find at least three social media accounts they could share the hashtag with. These could be accounts owned by the creator, or related critics.
Students should feel free to use their personal devices during this activity, sharing their hashtags with the internet if they feel comfortable.
Students should consider three people they might write in order to raise the problematic nature of the piece you have selected. Similar to the Hashtag #Problems assignment, students may choose the creator or a critic. They may also select newspapers or magazines that run reader letters. Publications relating to the content of the piece, that run stories with a favourable bias are best. They may also consider a number of politicians or not-for-profit groups that draw attention to their concerns.
Students should make a list of their top three social media platforms (these may include, but are not limited to, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc.)
Students should write a sample post, 50 words or less, that they could post on one of those sites in order to get their concerns across. @ing, or #tagging specific users or terms should be encouraged as a great way to spread their message.
Students should then look at their three pieces, and consider what similarities and differences exist between each of them. Through this activity, they will gain an understanding of the different strengths and weaknesses of each social media tool.
Once again, students should be encouraged to use their personal devices, actually posting their written pieces to their social media accounts, if they feel comfortable.
Once the Minds On activity is complete, you should host a discussion with your students, sharing the ideas and concepts learned throughout this part of the activity.
After the discussion has concluded, you should move on to the focus of the lesson, where students will write long-form pieces, sending them to an appropriate address in hopes of enacting real change in the world.
The focus of this lesson will be on enacting change through letter writing. Once students have a focus for their piece (a television show, advertisement campaign, song, story, etc.) they will need to select a target audience that has the ability to make the change they are looking to create.
Students may choose to write to one of the categories below, but they should not be limited. The landscape is constantly changing and those that can create change often come from previously unknown sources.
In 2017 Pepsi pulled a large-budget advertisement based on public pressure. The advertisement used Black Lives Matter Imagery suggesting Pepsi could solve their problems. Public backlash was successful in making real change in the advertising landscape. They can be reached through a number of mailing addresses, both electronic or otherwise.
Due to the ubiquitous nature of content creators’ internet presences, there are many ways to directly contact an author about something that a reader finds concerning. Social media accounts, e-mail addresses, and snail mail addresses attained through the publisher are often easily accessible. J.K. Rowling has been the target of a number of protests throughout her career. Many contemporary authors will directly reply to those who write in – either with questions, concerns, or praise.
After the American Psychological Association demanded researchers take links to their articles down from their websites, there was heavy backlash looking to enact change in how the system works. Concerns were raised over the use of the DMCA to restrict the rights of authors. E-Mail and Snail Mail addresses can often be found on the contact page of their websites.
Before contacting a politician, it’s best to focus your ideas. Are you writing to express displeasure in something, or is there a legal backdrop to your complaint? The Canadian Criminal Code Section 318 – 320 deals with Hate Speech. This may be useful in making a number of complaints. You’ll then need to decide who to contact. In Canada, it’s easy to find your Member of Parliment. A quick google search should yield similar results for other locations.
Now that students have selected their audience, they will need to write their letter. The letter should be similar regardless of the target.
I suggest having students hand write their letter, providing stamps and envelopes for them to be mailed out. However, it can also be a powerful experience to e-mail their messages as well. The important part is that the letters are sent to their audience after they are submitted to their teacher.
While it is important for students to create assignments within their classroom, it’s far more valuable to show them how to create impact in the world around them.
There are ten main pieces that should be included in their letter:
Teachers can use the Enacting Change Letter Assignment which includes a sample outline. Once students feel comfortable with the format they are free to use the period to create their piece.
Students should submit a second copy of the letter which will be mailed out by the teacher.
Students will fill out the Communication Venn Diagram exit slip before they leave the class. Using their personal knowledge, combined with what they have been taught through class lessons, they identify the areas of strength for enacting change through three different forms:
They will use the diagram to take note of similarities and differences between the three forms, allowing them to select the best tool for their situation.
This is the final lesson in the Gender Representation in the Media unit. The next page includes some final thoughts that will provide you with a suggested timeline. As well, it offers some extension ideas for how to continue to weave the thread of representation throughout your curriculum.
Advertisers constantly push messages at our students. Our students need to learn how to push back at the advertisers. Having already presented on the importance of creating better advertisements, this lesson will encourage them to take on a Role, select an Audience, choose a Format, and finally select a Topic as they write a piece aimed at raising awareness of problematic gendered messaging in the media.
This lesson is part of a large mini-unit on Teaching Gender Representation in the Media. It can be used as a stand-alone piece or part of a larger conversation.
Differentiated assignments allow students to fully engage with an assignment, as they have agency over the piece that they are creating. By using RAFT assignments in your classroom, you ensure that whatever interest your student has in a topic, they can tailor their response appropriately.
I find it best to give four options for each of the four parts of the RAFT. This allows for over 256 unique arrangements for the assignment. Offering limited choice often helps focus students that would perseverate over an embarrassment of options; however, if you’re feeling up to it, you are free to add an option for students to write in an appropriate Role, Audience, Format, and Topic of their choosing.
As your students come into the classroom, you should have the following image displayed on the board.
Students should be asked to discuss the image from a variety of perspectives. What is the dog thinking? why is the woman smiling? What’s in the man’s cup?
Once they’ve had a brief introduction to the image, students should be given a copy of the RAFT Minds On Assignment. By completing this piece, they will have a foundation upon which you can build the main focus of your lesson.
Once students have been granted a foundational understanding of R.A.F.T. assignments, through the Minds On the portion of this lesson, they should select from one of the two assignments:
Once again, ensure that students understand that they need to tailor their piece to all four parts of the R.A.F.T.
This is the perspective from which the student will be writing their piece. For example, they may be a specific individual with an established job, or a certain gender, or age. As the teacher, you are free to set whatever roles you think best suit the assignment.
Students will be writing their piece to a specific individual. This will determine the language they use. A blog post on the internet would look very different than a formal letter to a politician. A note to self might include different information than a letter to a best friend. Ensure that students have a strong grasp on who they are writing to before they begin.
This is the type of written piece the students are creating. It could be a formal essay or a business proposal. It could be a piece of short fiction, or a poem, or a diary entry. You could have students writing a memoir, or an instructional guide. The type of piece they select will direct the shape of their final piece.
The final part of a raft is the topic. While all topics will fall under a general thematic umbrella, you can offer a variety of lenses through which to view and explore the main concept you want students to address.
Once students have a strong understanding of their RAFT choices, let them know that they must write a multi-paragraphed P.E.E. Formated response. They should then be left to complete the writing task for the remainder of the period.
Using the bottom of the assignment sheet as an exit slip, you can ask students to students write in what Role, Audience, Format, or Topic they wished were on the assignment. This will help you understand student interest and debrief the lesson through a focused student discussion over the following few days.
When we addressed the Media Triangle we took a look at how we could impact future messaging, and in this assignment, we wrote some targeted pieces. In our next, and final gender lesson, students will have agency to affect the future of gendered messaging by writing and sending letters to people in charge of the decision making process.
The Media Triangle was first created by Eddie Dick, and has since been used as a way for people to fully analyze the messages and meanings of media texts. By focusing not only on the text itself, but also the audience, and the production, one is able to tease out complex concepts that might otherwise go overlooked.
The media triangle is the lens through which students should be encouraged to view Media Texts. Below is a visual representation of the Media Triangle, along with a number of guiding questions to help students analyze its three sides.
Questions can be simplified so that even grade 1 students can begin to view the world around them through this lens.
While it’s important to see the Media Triangle, and have a selection of questions that students can use to navigate their way through any given text, you must ensure that you fully understand what each question is looking for. They are explained, in detail, below.
This question is asking students to identify if the text is a song, video game, short story, photograph, etc. Once they have identified to the type of text, they will be able to compare it to other texts of the same type, helping to identify common tropes or intentional deviations.
Each text tells a story. In the case of a short story, a summary may be simple for a student to create, however when looking at a song, or a photograph, or a corporate logo students will need to delve into symbolic representations to ensure they are aware of what the text is trying to express.
Some texts tell their story through written words, while others use symbols or images. Some texts may use sound, and no visuals at all, to communicate their story.
Students should be asked to identify the presence or lack of representation based on:
Once students have identified which groups are represented in the piece, they should look to see what that representation looks like. Are certain groups stereotyped, and if so how does that impact the text as a whole? Students should consider why those stereotypes are present.
Once an understanding of the literal pieces of the text has been ascertained, students should have an understanding of what values the text is putting forward. They should be able to tell what is being said about specific groups, and if those are positive or negative messages.
Once there is an understanding of the values being espoused by the text, students should consider if they share those values or not. Coming to this conclusion is a strong place to leap from the Media Text side of the triangle over to the Audience.
Having looked at the Media Text, students should have an understanding of who the target audience of the text is. The target audience should be specific, and should include as many of the following as possible:
Once the Target Audience has been identified, students should Identify Main and Supporting Details that specifically link the text to each of the aspects of the Target Audience.
Regardless of if the student is or is not the Target Audience, they should describe whether the text appeals to them, focusing on specific elements that either attract or detract from their enjoyment of the text.
This question can be answered even if the text appeals to the students. There are always ways to improve the piece, and understanding the specific ways that the text could be altered to make it more relatable will further their understanding of how different audiences will react to it.
While each text is made with a specific Target Audience is mind, there will be many more people outside that audience. Not everyone will appreciate the text the same way as others will. Students should consider which groups might not like the text, while identifying details that support their decisions.
While a text may look empowering at first glance, it’s important to understand who created the piece. There is a big difference in the meaning of a text if the creator is a for-profit company, versus a charity, or an independent creator.
Looking at what the students know about the creator is a great way to understand the impact that the creator has on the creation. If the creator has a history of creating texts with contrary meanings to the current piece, that is worth considering. If the creator has long since expressed a similar message, be it positive or negative, that is also worth considering when trying to infer the meaning of the piece.
While students have already identified what aspects appeal to the target audience, this question forces them to understand that things aren’t placed on the text by accident. Students must confront the fact that the text does not exist in a vacuum, but was instead made with a purpose. What specific choices were made by the creator to ensure that the Target Audience would find themselves drawn into this piece?
Similar to the first question under Creation, students must now consider who is profiting from this piece. They must also consider what that profit looks like. An author who sells her painting is directly profiting through the sale; however, a writer who freely distributes their text on the internet may profit through exposure and name recognition. Something freely given still has value, as there are always ways the creator is profiting. Even anonymous graffiti artists eventually profit from the creation of their text, as their works can gain a following despite the free distribution of their works.
Students must now identify their own agency. If they don’t like a text, what can they do to influence it going forward? While this was once a difficult task, today’s Social Media allows them to have direct influence over a variety of texts. They can successfully alter future texts through Twitter petitions, Facebook sharing, or direct messaging to authors and content creators. When students identify things they agree or disagree with, they now have a voice to express themselves and enact real change.
Once all the questions have been asked and answered its time for students to combine their knowledge and determine the true meaning of a text. By looking at only the Text itself, they will lose out on the understanding that comes from realizing the Creator actually markets a competing message. By looking only at the Creation, students will not have a full grasp on why specific details have been included, as they won’t be trying to see how the piece is only directed to one small group of people.
Armed with an understanding of The Media Triangle students will have a tool that they can use on a forward basis to identify, analyze, and discover meanings and messages from each and every text they encounter.
Advertisements often have problematic gender messaging; however, advertisements can also be used to combat negative messaging, drawing attention to problematic norms.
Building on the negative messaging from The Past is Present – Part 1 students should have a strong notion of the problematic messages that are inherenant in media pieces, and gendered advertisements. This lesson will focus on how things have, and can continue to be, improved.
This lesson is part of a large mini-unit on Teaching Gender Representation in the Media. It can be used as a stand alone piece, or part of a larger conversation.
The minds on for this project will take a look at the Demand Better Media in 2015 video by The Representation Project. This video demonstrates how things improved in the media during the year 2014, but also how it failed to change fast enough.
After watching this video, students will record their thoughts about how “Some things are improving…” / “But others things didn’t change fast enough…” Students can use their own paper, or you are use the Representation in Media Handout.
After watching the above video, students should be able to reflect on the current state of gendered messaging in the media. On a sheet of paper, they should Think-Pair-Share about some of the positive changes they’ve seen over the past year, as well as some of the more problematic things that still need to change.
Just like the above video, students can discuss:
Once this discussion has ended, students should see that there is hope for positive change, although it is happening slower than many of us would want. The focus of this lesson will be on how the media can help create change for the better.
Just like the previous lesson, this will be very teacher driven. You will guide students through a number of videos, leading them to come to their own conclusions. The first step in this lesson will be to revisit Goldieblox.
This will take students on a journey from the Goldieblox Kickstarter launch in 2012 all the way to 2018.
Having discussed gender normative toys in the Gender Lesson: The Toy Box students should now be ready to Compare those pieces to Goldieblox. After watching the above video, allow students a moment to discuss how Goldieblox is both similar, and different from other – more traditional – toys.
Next, have them discuss why this toy is important, and the positive impact it can have.
Lead into this video by asking students if they think the toy succeeded, or not. Despite its success, the toy is still relatively unknown outside of those with young children. As such, students are probably unaware of the answer, and will be able to have rich discussion about this.
After viewing the video, the success of the product is obvious. Students should think about how toys can have a large impact on those that play with them, as well as the parents that purchase them.
Assign students into four groups:
Students should separate into four different corners of your room. Once there, they should talk to each other about the toys. Their discussion should be focused around these three guiding questions:
For the third question, students should consider life skills, possible careers, personal development, or – if you’re feeling up to it – have them consider how these toys can connect to the Global Competencies.
After debriefing this, you are free to move on to the modern incarnation of Goldieblox.
Goldieblox has expanded beyond being a simple toy. Their YouTube Channel has more than 200 000 subscribers, and has programming aimed towards girls, with a focus on construction and creativity.
Where toys like Lego once provided an outlet to build, and create, Goldieblox has taken up the mantle, by becoming more than a simple toy. Their how-to videos, and creative content provides a space that turns girls from consumers into creators.
In the next part of this lesson, students will look at how Lego – once the king in the creator space – has been failing girls since the launch of their Lego Friends line.
In 2012 (the same year Goldieblox was created) Lego introduced a new line, specifically for girls. This meant more Pink and Purple, which fed into a number of Gender Normative tropes.
Students should consider both the positive and negative messaging in this short Lego Friends clip to introduce them to the line, before they watch a longer breakdown of the toy by Feminist Frequency host Antia Sarkeesian.
A number of students may groan at the mention on Antia Sarkeesian. You can remind them that she was addressed in the first video you watched, about how some things aren’t changing fast enough. She has been a target of online hate since she began her feminist YouTube series.
Students may point out one or two reasons why they disagree with her. You should honour their disagreement, but instruct them to criticize the idea, not the person. You should also point out that disagreeing with one or two points does not invalidate all of her points.
Having watched the Lego Friends video, students should be able to see how toys can have both a positive and negative impact on young children. They should also now realize that even when toy companies try to make change for the better, they can often end up creating a more problematic landscape that children need to navigate.
At this point you can choose to conclude the lesson, or assign students the: Lego vs. Goldieblox Comparison RAFT Assignment which will be the focus of a future lesson.
Now it’s time to see if other companies are looking to make positive change through their products, and advertisements. The answer is a resounding YES! A number of companies are using Feminism in their marketing.
Students will look at two strong examples of this, before discussing why they feel companies are moving along these lines. While the answers is almost definitely, “because it makes them more money.” the fact that Feminism, and creating a positive space for women, is now profitable is a worthwhile thing to consider.
Finally, students should look back on the representation of women from 2014 in the first video, and consider how things have changed from then until now. They should then be asked to consider what they think the media-landscape, in regards to gender normativity, will look like five years from now. They can write their assumptions about positive changes, and things that they feel won’t change fast enough on the back of their minds on notes.
Students should hand this in before they leave. You can use these comments as a way to host a discussion at the start of your next class.
Now that we have explored media representation, giving students a strong foundation to do their own research and explore the world around them, you can move on to the lesson where they will analyze a variety of advertisements.
If you have not already done so, students should be introduced to The Media Triangle which is the lens through which they will analyze works of media, moving forward.