Media Literacy Ninja Training

April 23, 2010

Prepare for geekery: I am pretty much in love with lesson planning.

Now that we are learning practical stuff in my Artist-Educator class, like curriculum requirements, class is getting to be really interesting. This week was especially fun, because I was in an excellent group (we do a lot of group work, which is sometimes amazing, and sometimes annoying) and we made up a great media literacy lesson plan predicated on the game “2 Truths, 1 Lie” (if you went to theatre you probably played this game. If you didn’t, well, too bad you didn’t get a degree in lying like me). The curriculum itself is written in obtuse bureaucracy-speak, but it’s kind of fun to decode it and figure out how “describe how forms and styles of visual and media arts represent various messages and contexts in the past and present” can be translated into an engaging activity. (It’s not always easy. I don’t think the Ministry of Education wants learning to be fun.) After getting all depressed by Laura Penny’s diatribe about how levels of critical thinking and discourse are going down the toilet, I am particularly interested coming up with sneaky ways to teach kids how to think critically, like a media literacy ninja!

Creating a proper lesson plan is one of the big takeaway skills from this course – it’s one thing to come up with ideas about activities to do, but it’s even more important to figure out what order to do them in, how they prepare the students for what they’ll learn, how to develop their skills and confidence, etc. It’s a fairly intuitive process, but it’s not something I’ve ever broken down and thought about in terms of “preparation” and “development” and “application”, which is a helpful, organized way to create a lesson plan.

The other incredibly useful thing we’re starting to learn about now are “ages and stages”, that is, what kids are capable of at what ages, which is something I have only the vaguest inkling of from my own teaching experience, and a very important thing to keep in mind when creating a lesson plan. To personalize the information, we shared stories about our experiences at different ages, and it was a really nice way to get to know some of my classmates better.

So now we have to do independent projects in pairs, and getting our partners assigned was a bit of a nervewracking process: at the end of class last week, we each had to secretly write down the names of three people in the class we wanted to work with. It was terrifying, like speed dating, and you didn’t know if anyone would pick you and what if you got paired up with someone terrible and and and. But it worked out ok (for me, at least), because my partner is an incredibly talented writer whose work I have admired for a few years. (To be fair, we are the only two journalists in the class, so it’s not a crazy surprise that we’ve been paired up. But I am very pleased to be working with her.)

For next week, we have to read an excerpt from Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. I will let you know how many intelligences I have after I read it.

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