Woodcutting: Draft of Unit 1: Identity & Media

After hitting a stumbling block trying to plan my whole course, I dove into my first unit, and am very happy with what I have ready to go to start the year.  The unit plan is based on Understanding by Design, with some adaptations for my new school.

As always, I would really appreciate feedback on any and all aspects of this.  A huge shout out to those who have already given me feedback during the planning process, as it has really helped me clarify what I want my students to take away from this unit.

Unit: Identity & Media, September-October (~45 classes)

Essential Questions: 

  1. Who am I?  Why do I think this is who I am? How does identity influence what people think, desire, and do?
  2. What does it mean to be a real man or woman, or a real anything, for that matter?
  3. Is it possible to be Black? Latino? White?
  4. How do others try to influence what I think, desire, and do? Does what they do work?
  5. Do different people experience the same thing in the same way?

Enduring Understandings:

  1. All media is constructed using a creative language with its own rules; has embedded values and points of view; and is organized to gain profit and/or power.
  2. Different people experience the same media message differently.
  3. Identity and desire are both social constructions, and are intertwined.
  4. Race matters tremendously despite having no basis in biological or scientific reality.
  5. What it means to be a man or a woman is a social construction.

Exhibition Descriptions: 

Where do my ideas comes from? Community Interview Project

In order to investigate where their own identities and beliefs come from, students will develop interview questions for 5 family members and 5 close friends to ask about their identities, morals, and politics.  Students will create visual representations of the extent to which their identities, morals, and politics, and written reports comparing their attitudes and values to those of family and friends, as well as hypothesizing about the degree to which their attitudes and values have been learned from family and friends.

What’s a Real ______?

In order to teach others at school about how identities are constructed through the media and to challenge stereotypes, students will choose a category of identity (race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, etc) or a hybrid of two (Latin Female, etc.) and create two collages: one entitled “What ‘They‘ Think a Real ______ Is” and a second entitled “Real ______”.  Images will come both from advertisements and from students’ lives.  While most students will produce print work, there will be the option to do video or dramatic work as well.  Students will also produce Artist Statements addressing the relevant Essential Questions from the unit, as well as identifying the connection between the identity and what is being sold to people with that identity.

Make it Plain

In order to teach others about how media is constructed in its attempts to influence others, students will capture an advertisement encountered in their own life and “annotate” it in a variety of ways.  In one version, they will make the embedded target audience, subtexts, values, points of view, and purposes explicit.  In another version, they will alter the ad so that instead of existing to give some person or group power or profit, they will make the ad be for something that makes the world more just.  Students will title their work with a question intended to get people thinking about how ads affect their life.  Students will also produce Artist Statements addressing the relevant Essential Questions from the unit.

Roundtable Presentations of Learning 1

In order to formally reflect on their work and share it with larger communities, students will conduct public roundtable conversations where they: 1) Share 1 of their unit exhibitions 2) Discuss how their views have evolved during the unit for 1 of the unit’s essential questions, and 3) Reflect on how their skills have developed during the unit.

Essential Common Core Learning Standards: 

(Standards for Reading and Writing are for History/Social Studies; Speaking are from ELA) 

Where do my ideas comes from? Community Interview Project: CCS Writing 1, 4

What’s a Real ______?: CCS Reading 7, 9; CCS Writing 2, 4, 5

Make it Plain: CCS Reading 1, 6, 7, 8; CCS Writing 2, 4, 5

Roundtable Presentations of Learning 1: CCS Speaking 1, 2, 4, 5, 6

What essential content knowledge and skills will students acquire as a result of this unit?

Learning Goals (* indicates goal is worth double)

  • LG 1.1*: Media Literacy – I can analyze media effectively
    • SWBAT explains the creative language that gives meaning to pieces of mediA
    • SWBAT explains the embedded values and points of view in a piece of media
    • SWBAT explains the explicit and implicit goals of a piece of media
    • SWBAT empathize with how others might experience a piece of media
  • LG 1.2*: Identity – I can explain how identities, desires and beliefs are formed
    • SWU how identities and desires are socially constructed
    • SWU that identities and desires are intertwined
    • SWU how the beliefs and identities of their friends and families effect their own
    • SWU that individuals have multiple identities that interact in different ways
  • LG 1.3: Race – I understand the concept of “race”
    • SWU how race is socially and historically constructed
    • SWU that race has no basis in biology or scientific reality
  • LG 1.4: Gender – I understand the concept of “gender”
    • SWU how gender is socially and historically constructed
    • SWU that gender is socially and historically constructed

List of completed tasks and lesson components that show student understanding:

Exhibitions

  • Where do my ideas come from?
  • What’s a Real _______?
  • Make it Plain
  • Roundtables

Socratic Seminar Texts

  • “There are two kinds of intelligence” by Rumi
  • Race (texts TBD)
  • Hurricane Katrina images of white “foragers” and black “looters”
  • Nivea “Re-Civilize Yourself” ad

Writings

  • Essay on Race
  • DYO Essay on Identity & Meida
  • Ad analyses
  • Various entry & exit tickets and journal prompts

List of lessons:

Intro – What if everything we know is wrong?

  • Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” – Read and draw
  • Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” – Identifying symbolism
  • Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” / Matrix Simulation
  • Socratic Seminar Introduction / Practice – The Pledge of Allegiance
  • Socratic Seminar 1 – “There are two kinds of intelligence” by Rumi

Identity 

  • Identity Charts – Categories of Identity, What do we control? Where do identities come from?
  • “Is Steve a Jew?” – Defining Race, Ethnicity, Heritage, Religion, Culture, Tribe
  • Socratic Seminar 2 – Where do stereotypes come from? Hurricane Katrina images of white “foragers” and black “looters”
  • Race: The Power of Idea Part 1
  • Race: The Power of Idea Part 2
  • Socratic Seminar 3 – Race & Writing
  • Where do my ideas comes from? Community Interview Project Intro
  • Where do my ideas comes from? Community Interview Project Organization
  • Project Reflection and Analysis
  • Sharing of Project Results, Discussion
  • Formal Lecture: Concepts of Identity: Power, Ideology, Social Construction, Performance, and Plural Personhood & Ads
  • DYO Lesson
  • DYO Day 1
  • DYO Day 2

Media Literacy (Most lessons from Center for Media Literacy)

  • The Best Ads Ever
  • The Producers Doc
  • The Merchants of Cool Doc
  • Who Created This Message? 1 Way vs. 2 Way Communication
  • What creative techniques are used to get my attention? Basic Visual Language 1
  • What creative techniques are used to get my attention? Basic Visual Language 2
  • Practice applying Visual Language
  • What creative techniques are used to get my attention? 10 Ways to Sell an Idea
  • How might different people understand this message differently? Did I See What You See?
  • How might different people understand this message differently? Target Audience
  • How might different people understand this message differently? Taking Different Views
  • Socratic Seminar 4 – Nivea “Re-Civilize Yourself” ad
  • What values & POVs are represented or omitted? Peeling the Onion
  • What values & POVs are represented or omitted? More Than Meets the Eye
  • What values & POVs are represented or omitted? Media Stereotypes
  • What values & POVs are represented or omitted? Heroes, Heroines, & Who I want to Be
  • What values & POVs are represented or omitted? What’s Missing?
  • Introduction of Final Exhibition
  • Why is the message being sent? Why we Communicate
  • Why is the message being sent? Business of Media
  • Why is the message being sent? Power, Persuasion, and Propaganda

Final Exhibition

  • Work Time
  • Peer Edits
  • Revision
  • Roundtable Presentations
  • Reflection & Celebration

Which Habits of Mind is this unit most focused on and how do you expect to address them?

Viewpoint: The unit will look at the POVs that are embedded in media, as well as the motivating factors that lead to the creation of various media.

Evidence: We will be looking at a variety of arguments as well as collecting data to investigate identity formation, as well as the effects peers, social categories, and media has on that identity.

Supposition: The exhibition, “Make it Plain,” asks students to imagine how a certain piece of media could be used to make the world a more just place rather than existing to give more power or profit to a certain group or individual.

Connections: In the early part of the unit, we will look at how various theories of identity construction relate to students’ experiences of their own identities.  The work on identity also connects to the Advisory Exhibition connected to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Relevance: The entire unit is grounded in students own identities, identity formation, and experience of media in their lives.   

How will this unit be assessed?

All enduring understandings and learning goals will be assessed formally multiple times through essay and narrative writings, Socratic Seminars, and the four exhibitions.  Students will have the opportunity to get practice toward the learning goals through informal writings and various class activities.

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