|Work sample from lesson #4 - I love what the boss is doing!|
I'm providing these lessons to students from grades 1-5. We began with a "Jail Man" (not Hangman - we had a media discussion about the message in losing a game of hangman which led to some fascinating talk about what students think jails are for) to guess the mystery word: radio. Then we conducted a KWL brainstorm, but instead of a "What do we know? What do we want to learn? What did we learn?", I changed it into a "What do we know? What do we wonder? Where can we look for the answer?" This was a helpful exercise because it gave me an idea about the students' preconceived notions and prior knowledge about radio.
I wish teachers were able to guarantee the success of a lesson prior to teaching it. Thankfully, I have the opportunity, since I teach the same lesson to multiple classes, to tweak the specifics to try and improve the experience. With these brand-new learning experiences, I worried (and justifiably so) about whether the content or approach would be beyond their comprehension or abilities. I needed to do the "Goldilocks Test" on my lessons - are they too easy, too hard, or just right? Below, I've reproduced five lessons that I've taught so far about radio, and included my personal feedback and reflection on them. (I didn't include the curriculum expectations in the lesson plan because this is an old File Maker Pro program I use to generate my lesson plans and it doesn't contain the most up-to-date expectations; I will mention which expectations match which lessons in the reflections.)
1) Radio Stations in Toronto: Who Owns What
One lesson that I thought would be really boring but ended up being quite engaging and revealing for the students was about discovering the producers behind radio stations. The key to the success of this lesson was a) to ensure I had many differently coloured highlighters, and b) to provide adequate time to complete the task. A grade 4-5 class did a lesser job on this task than a grade 1-2 class, and I suspect it was because they had less time to complete it. I really liked how the students worked well in their groups to search for the repeated names. Did it matter that I cautioned them that this would be evaluated? I liked how some of the students made a connection between the inventor of the telephone and the name of one of the major radio-station owning companies. My regret with this lesson is that I didn't immediately do a follow-up on why knowing who owns the radio station actually makes a difference. I hope it's not too late to do another lesson based on this list, and talk about how the ads chosen reflect the company interests, and other potential impacts. The expectation met by this lesson is #1.6 - "identify who produces selected media texts and why those texts are produced".
2) Increasing Our Radio Knowledge via Online Databases
Even though there were only four questions, I found it helpful to separate the answering of the questions from the reading of the text. We completely ignored the last question because it was covered by our introductory KWL task. When students only had to answer one question before taking a break, they were more enthusiastic about answering them. If I divided up the task like this with a class, it gave me the opportunity to re-read the Pebble Go non-fiction text passages a second time before tackling the questions. This provided another assessment piece. I think I should have modified the questions. The first one asked about why radio might be better than a telephone in communicating messages. This presumed that radios are better. A t-chart to compare might have been a better choice. The expectation met by this lesson is #2.1 "identify elements and characteristics of some media forms".
3) Radio Vocabulary Pre-Assessment
I wanted to pre-teach some of the challenging, radio-specific vocabulary, and tap into their own ideas - students are not "tabula rasas". I wracked my brain about a fun and engaging way to begin to introduce these words. I chose to use the Senteo Clickers because I felt like the students needed practice using these devices before using them in a high-stakes situation, i.e. a test. I also wanted to foster some growth mindset by giving a difficult task but showing them that they don't have to be successful immediately. This was probably my worst lesson so far. The students were thrown off because they were taking the test anonymously instead of logging in with their student numbers. I told them that the results didn't matter because it was unfair to test someone on content they haven't learned yet. They were more preoccupied with the device than they were with discovering these new words. Even though there were only 5 words (taken from a fantastic book called Media Madness by Dominic Ali and Michael Cho), they were completely befuddled and bewildered. The students were not interested in learning about the correct answers after the pretend quiz. The questions were too hard. I didn't bother trying it with the junior division students I see, but I wonder if they might have responded differently. The expectation met by this lesson (somewhat) is #2.2 "identify the conventions and techniques used in some familiar media forms and explain how they convey meaning". The funny thing is that this lesson wasn't a complete waste of time - a student made a reference to one of the vocabulary words in her drawing from the next lesson.
|Using the word "playlist"|
4) Imagine Inside a Radio Station
I wanted to provide time for the students to listen to commercial radio, since many of the students claimed that they never heard a radio before. I didn't want the students to just sit and do nothing while they listened to the radio. My first attempt was to allow them to play with some toys while they listened. This backfired - they were too focused on playing and talking with each other to pay attention to the radio. What else could they do while they listened that was productive but still allowed them to hear what was going on. This then evolved into the lesson task you see to the right. Students could draw what they thought the inside of a radio station looked like. This task bombed again when I first tried it, because many of the students were frozen and drew nothing because they said they had no ideas because they had never been to a radio station and just couldn't imagine anything. Too hard? The task became more manageable and possible when we added a short group brainstorm at the start. By asking who and what they thought they might see, students heard other students make suggestions that they could piggy back on for their own drawing. Drawing while listening meant that they could hear the radio better, and this led to great observations and some clearing of previous misconceptions - e.g. students thought that they only time they'd hear "just talking" would be for the news, but they discovered that DJs or radio hosts talk quite a bit in between songs. They also noticed that the name of the radio station is mentioned frequently. The expectations covered by this are overall #1 "demonstrate an understanding of a variety of media texts", #1.6 "identify who produces selected media texts and why those texts are produced" and #4.1 "identify, initially with support and direction, what strategies they found most helpful in making sense of and creating media texts"
|I plan on having them do a second drawing to show the learning|
|Drawing means they can illustrate what they don't yet have words for|
5) Radio Station Similarities in our School
I've been in contact with some commercial radio stations to try and arrange a visit, and we have concrete plans to participate in a broadcast with an Internet-based radio station, VoicEd Radio, closer to the end of this unit. In the meantime, however, I wanted the students to get a firmer idea in their heads about what happens in a radio studio. The idea to connect radio to the school PA system was Ms. Lung's - she mentioned it as I was talking to her about my media lessons. I thought it was brilliant, hands-on, and useful. For some classes, I combined it with watching one full but short video (How a Radio Station Works, Radio Station Equipment ) and part of a longer video (KMKT Studio Tour). Once again, I found it was more successful if these two experiences were split up into two separate, short lessons. I also wish that I could allow the students to do more than buzz their empty classroom (or classroom where we sent some of their fellow students to hear them speak to them), but the students knew that playing with the PA system while other classes were in session would probably be frowned upon. The same expectations mentioned for the fourth lesson would work for this lesson as well.
Performing a "Goldilocks test" on my lessons can be a bit inconclusive. Were the students in a good mood the day I delivered it? Did I split it up or combine it? Did I provide enough time to think and do? I plan on doing some more reading from that Ali book, and teaching with Stephen Hurley about VoicEd radio's purpose and methods, but if anyone has any suggestions for future lessons, please let me know. This is definitely a work in progress!