Making Curriculum Pop

Pam Goble’s presentation focused on how to use media to enhance the learning process. She introduced the concept of media circles and provided us with an opportunity to experience them first hand. To prepare for the media circles, we were given a chance to choose one of the following roles: connector, economist, etymologist, fashion critic, questioner, recorder/ spokesperson, scene master, sociologist, technology specialist, or visualizer. In the classroom, these roles can be used to help students focus their attention to specific details in the film. In addition, students will be motivated to participate because they will have a sense of control in their learning.

Once our roles were assigned, we viewed a clip from the movie and noted what we observed. Then, before sharing out, we were able to meet in groups with other students who shared the same role. I loved this set-up! I think it’s a great way to help students build their confidence, monitor their understanding, and collaborate with their peers. Students can support each other and explore different ideas through conversations. After we reviewed our notes with our peers who shared the same role, we broke up into our original groups to share what we had learned. At this point, I felt comfortable expressing my ideas to the other members and I am confident that students in my future classroom will experience that same sense of security.

When I reflect back on Pam’s presentation, I am drawn to the engaging nature of the media circle activity. This type of interaction with media and literacy is child-centered and focused on getting students to actively participate in the learning process. As a literacy specialist, I am always searching for new ways to motivate students to “read their world.” When I use the term “text” my definition exceeds the traditional meaning. A text can be a book, a magazine, a billboard, a recipe, a movie, a photograph, etc. Therefore, my goal is to help students recognize these different text forms and understand how to read them. In media circles, the students are given a chance to broaden their concept of a text and the ways in which they process different types of information. “As students learn the language of film, they learn to analyze visual and auditory images. Typically in the English/language arts classroom, analysis has been confined to words-students have analyzed stories, plays, poems, essays, and novels- but now their notion of analysis expands to include more than verbal images…Studying film language makes explicit the techniques for telling a story visually, heightens student’s appreciation for the art of film, and increases their awareness of how subtle cues can shade meaning “(Teasley, 1997, p.27). Students learn to attend to the literal and inferential meanings that are conveyed through verbal, auditory, and visual means. They are encouraged to look deeper into the text to discover subtle messages about the character, setting, or main events.

After the presentation, I continued to wonder about how I could implement this type of instruction in my own classroom. Media circles can be integrated into the reading workshop as well as other content areas. It is a way to build conversational skills and encourage students to deepen their understanding of a text. In addition, when we read a film we develop skills that are also needed for reading more traditional texts. We need to teach children how to make inferences, accumulate the text, synthesize information, make predictions, and monitor for meaning. If we can provide students with a medium that they are comfortable and familiar with, they will be more inclined to practice and apply these skills that are so essential for reading comprehension.

In preparation for my future classroom, I decided to explore the format of the role sheet. For a first grade classroom, I would be more inclined to use the handout that included the following components: people that I saw in the movie, places that I saw in the movie, things that I saw in the movies, and words that were new or fun that I heard in the movie. I think one way we can reach struggling writers is by encouraging them to draw their ideas. These visual representations can then be used a springboard for conversation. In addition, I’m wondering how I could manipulate the form to meet the needs of different types of learners. I’m thinking that students who are more kinesthetic learners could use their bodies to act out the main ideas in the film. They could create a snap shot of the things that they saw in the movie by posing in different formations. This movement exercise may help students verbalize their ideas later on with the group. As a teacher, I think it’s important to discover ways in which we can differentiate our activities so that all learners can participate and feel supported. If anyone has a suggestion I’d love to hear it!

Check out Amy's and Cheza's post on media circles.

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Comment by Raven on June 5, 2009 at 11:22am
Media Circles for Interdisciplinary Lessons!
That presentation was terrific for teachers who are bringing new topics and methods of reading texts into classrooms that may seem alienated from such activities. As Daniella mentioned, these media circles would be a great "way to build conversational skills and encourage students to deepen their understanding of a text." I watched a math teacher this week trying to get students to think about the "math in the green economy" by watching a short excerpt of a film, and reading an article about Obama's goals. The kids in this class had not done any reading or film watching before, except for word problems and solving equations. This would have been a great opportunity to bring in a type of media circle, so that each student can contribute to an analysis of the information based on 'roles' or 'outlooks'. If there had been an economist, an anthropologist, a social seer, etc. the kids may have had a foundation for bringing new insights into their math understanding. I took the media circles info to the Spanish teachers at our school, and they used it for reading a novel with second language learners. They had students take roles of 'character finder', 'quote reporter', 'plot peaker', and 'insight light.' It was a great way to bring literature into the language learning classroom that previously emphasized vocabulary, grammar, and syntax. They then engaged in deeper conversations and has a better basis fro cross-relating their own life experiences to those of characters in the text.
Comment by Sophy Joseph on May 4, 2009 at 4:23am
Daniella, I completely agree that media circles help to teach how to "read the world. This is a great way to unpack the movie for the little ones. It's almost as if we're teaching students to view the movie through different lenses, once kids realize that they view or take in the world through different or various lenses, it helps to teach into perspective. Media circles are going to definitely help to build critical thinkers in our classroom at an early age.
Comment by Arshi Saeed on April 29, 2009 at 12:41pm
Daniella, great post! Being an elementary school teacher, I often feel that in terms of analyzing and deconstructing film, there is little that I can do with 8 year-olds. However, Pam Goble's media circles are something that i feel I can definitely use in a third-grade classroom. Another aspect that I liked is that it a very child-centric activity and allows students to assess their interest and strength and choose their role accordingly. And as you mentioned in your post, it's great for differentiating too.
Comment by Alicia Lerman on April 28, 2009 at 5:40pm
Nice post, Daniella! I also found the Media Circles presentation inspiring, especially in that it is such an engaging way to approach film in the classroom. I tried a modified version with my high school seniors this past week, and I think the activity went quite well. Today I had the students evaluate the exercise, and for the most part I was really pleased that they found the roles challenging and useful. One point that came up was a need for a clarification of the term "fashion critic" (which, incidentally, was by far the most coveted role). I think when I do this again I will try labeling the role "fashion analyst" instead.
Comment by Pam Goble on April 26, 2009 at 8:39pm
The kids do like working this way and ...they learn. I am so glad that you all enjoyed the activity. It is so fun to do. Your ideas are appreciated. We are hoping to make the MC's even better and more grade specific. New literacies need to be nurtured.
Comment by Cheza Al-Kudmani on April 25, 2009 at 3:24am
Great ideas Daniella! I also loved this presentation and tried to think of ways of using it in all elementary grades. What a great idea you mentioned about asking the students to use their bodies to make snap shots of the movie, that is a GREAT way to teach to all learning styles. I could even imagine the older students LOVING that activity, perhaps furth graders would act out a key element in the movie, or even creating a continuation to a part of the movie as a way of predicting... I think that the Possibilities are endless with ideas of implementing Media circles in the classroom!
Comment by Julia Kim on April 24, 2009 at 9:48pm
Hiya Daniella- I also enjoyed the activity. It really helps me to focus when I know of certain things to look for in movies/shows. But I think I was able to focus even more during this activity because I only had one aspect to look into. I was not overwhelmed by other components and even if I missed one or two things, I knew other people with my focus could be my support. If we could start this kind of projects when students are younger, we can promote collaboration or community at a young age.
Comment by Callie Sharkey on April 24, 2009 at 6:23pm
Nice post! I agree that talking with the group who were assigned the same role as me was very helpful. Some of the people in my group made connections that I had not even thought of. It can be helpful to bounce ideas off of other people before reporting back to your main group (for the students who are shy or maybe did not make many connections). You made a really great point that media circles help to develop the skills necessary for becoming a strong reader. Maybe media circles will help these skills click in the minds of some students. I love the components for a first grade classroom. I love the components for a first grade classroom. I think the new and/or fun words heard is a great idea. These are words that can be put on a poster so the students can use them whenever they want. Great ideas!


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