Introduction: This is a lesson plan on communication for 8-40 students and adults that uses intergenerational dialogue, critical thinking, personal creativity, and group analysis to examine media bias.
Goal: When this session is complete, participants should be able to…
- Identify popular media images and messages about students and adults
- Examine how messages affect relationships between students and adults
Time: 105 minutes
Materials: A wide collection of newspapers and magazines of all kinds that will be re-purposed; scissors, blank paper, glue sticks, pens, and crayons for each small group of 4-8 people. If possible, music playing while work is happening. Before the lesson begins, make sure supplies are distributed among the tables, with additional supplies in a central location.
Space: Workspace for each small group
Considerations: Reality and media images often don’t match, especially when it comes to students. Images of adults are distorted in mainstream media, as well. This activity gives students and adults a chance to look at the images put forth by the popular media and assess how those images have influenced their feelings and ideas about each other.
- [5 min] Split people up into groups of 4-8, depending on time and group size.
- [30 min] Instruct each individual participant to pretend they are aliens who know little of your culture. You want to compile some information for the folks back on your planet about what it means to be a student in a school and what it means to be an adult. However, all you’ve got to work with are the newspapers and magazines before you.Every participant should work individually to create two pictures, with one showing what it means to be an adult and another showing what it means to be students. You can make a collage, put together a collection of words, create a symbolic representation of the “typical” student or adult, anything – just be creative!Keep a few questions in mind:
- What do students do?
- What do adults do?
- What are students or adults like?
- What’s important to know about students?
- What are their relationships to each other like?
- [20 min] Have individuals within each small groups share among themselves. Each person describes his or her picture and what the picture says about what it means to be a student or an adult according to popular media. To save time, you could have half of each group focus on students and the other half focuses on adults.
- [5 min] After each member has reported to their small group they should work together to create a group definition for “student” and for “adult.”
- [5 min] Each small group should report back and share their definition and descriptions with the large group. The facilitator should listen for themes and compile a list on flip chart paper.
- [10 min] Discuss participants responses to the art they have made.
- What doesn’t seem very realistic to you about these images and the definitions/descriptions? Why?
- What does seem realistic? Why?
- What’s missing?
- How do you feel about these images?
- How do you wish they were different?
- How do these images get in the way of students and adults working together?
- What things can people do to improve the situation?
- [15 min] For the closing activity, ask participants to stand in a circle, shoulder to shoulder. Explain to participants that after spending the whole lesson exploring media bias, they are invited to “Stand and Deliver.” This requires individuals to come to the center of the circle, one at a time, and declare something they are going to do to fight media bias against students. Give ample time for everyone to speak if they want to, but don’t force everyone to talk either. This activity might require the facilitator starting it, so be sure to have an action in mind before you start.
Additional Lesson Plans
- Facilitator Notes and Requirements
- Intro to Student/Adult Partnerships
- Intro to Student Voice
- Readiness for Student/Adult Partnerships
- Bias Against Students
- Being Students
- Understanding Who You Are
- Language in Schools
- Learning to Listen
- Feedback Techniques
- Jargon in Schools
- Power, Trust, and Respect
- Ground Rules
- Group Strengths and Weaknesses
- Trust Circle
- Action Planning
- Problem Solving
- Staying Solutions-Focused
- Letting Go & Taking Charge
- Ideal Partners
- Creating Roles for Students and Adults