May 13, 2008

Week 11 follow up

My movie consisted of tid bits of bill monroe and his bluegrass boys....but I felt that I really needed to talk more about blugrass as a historical artifact.

I dug around quite a bit looking for the answers to these questions, and while there is a wealth of information out there on the web, my most interesting source of knowledge was my very own dad! But I also got quite a bit from So on we go to learn more about bluegrass.....

When I think bluegrass I think down south; I think Appalchian mountains; I think of sounds about trains, and banjos; I think about musicians with missing teeth plucking banjos and tooting on an old jug. Yes there are quite a few negative connotations that come to the surface when the word bluegrass is mentioned. So why then is it that this popular form of music is still being played? Where does it originate from and just who the heck plays in this style if there aren’t many toothless jug blowers out there?

According to the International Bluegrass Music Association (IMBA) bluegrass is a big old melting pot of musical styles from allover the place including: Ireland, Scotland, England, and even has African American gospel and blues roots. So just why did these sounds get put together to form what we call bluegrass? Well as more and more people settled in early America, they wrote songs about their day-to-day living, which at the time wasn’t so glamorous.

So this style was pretty common in the south where all these groups settled, but it started to get popular with the invention of the phonograph. IBMA says that it was the phonograph that helped bring Jimmie Rodgers, The Carter Family, and The Monroe Brothers to the rest of America. Without it, those sounds would have just been stuck down south!

So Bill Monroe was mentioned in my little movie clip from the previous post. And just why did I refer to his as “The Father of Bluegrass?? Well ask any banjo, mandolin, or stand-up bass player who got bluegrass going and they’ll tell you Mr. Bill Monroe. There is even a Minnesota band who has commemorated this great musician by naming their band Monroe Crossing. So Bill Monroe is called the father of bluegrass because he tried out a whole bunch of instrument combinations before he nailed down that great bluegrass sound. Because of him the traditional bluegrass band consists of a fiddle player, a man on acoustic guitar, someone thumping out rhythm on stand up bass, a musician on mandolin, and of course that fast lickin’ banjo.

But we can’t give Monroe all the credit; there were others who helped pushed bluegrass along. I mean, Monroe couldn’t play all 5 of these instruments at one time. So we’ve got the notorious Earl Sruggs, who developed his own style of picking banjo. Sometimes this is referred to as claw hammer (my dad told me this) and sometimes its just called “Scruggs Style? (IBMA).

Bill Monroe and his bluegrass boys were in their prime in the year 1945. The guys here where Monroe, Scruggs and another guy named Lester Flatt (guitar and lead vocals). After a bit they went their own ways….Flatt and Scruggs hung around each other though because according to IBMA they made the song “Foggy Mountain Breakdown? featured on Bonnie and Clyde. The boys also did music for The Beverly Hillbillies.

So bluegrass music had some key players that really got it going in 40’s and on.

In the 60’s a man named Carlton Haney got the idea to put together a whole weekend devoted to bluegrass and thus the bluegrass festival was born. If you are interested in attending there just happens to be one in Avon Minnesota (near st. cloud). It’s a pretty good time and the jam session from the video was recorded at this very festival just last year.

With all of that said….bluegrass music is still a unique style of music that takes hold of a piece of everyone’s heart….even if it’s just a teensy-tiny piece. I mean, there are few who can’t sing at least a little chuck of the Beverly Hillbillies theme, or doot doot out a bit of the Dueling Banjos song. And if all else fails, then maybe you’ve seen our beloved George Clooney in Oh Brother Where Art Thou.

May 5, 2008

Here is the video from my previous post--week 11 now this doesn't work....grrrrrr it will come promise!

My musical artifact just happened to be a little bit of bluegrass. With my final project on the forefront of my mind I picked bluegrass with the intentions of possible adding the film Oh Brother Where Art Thou to my final project curriculum. That thought is still up in the air, but it did present an interesting musical topic. Bluegrass and old time music definitely play a role in that film. But just how much about that style to my students know? So I threw together a bit of a film of my own so that the students could get a bit of a taste of bluegrass music along with some pictures to help them out.

Students would view this musical video before beginning a discussion of the important role of music in Oh Brother Where Art Thou.

I, of course was having some trouble getting the video windows movie maker was very slow after I added more and more media. So if I were to actually show this to students I would have to add much much much more content about the historical background of Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. However you will find more info on these men in my next post....

Here's the show: is taking way too long to upload....I'll give it a shot tomorrow when it's not almost 11 pm...

May 3, 2008

ooooooooooo look!!

So awhile back I made this killer deal on of media representations of valentine's day...and I was bummed because I couldn't embed the darn thing on here...well turns out I can get you to it!!! click below pretty pretty please!!

April 29, 2008

fialsh back to week 8- The News

Week - Local News
Well a bit ago I watched the 6:30 news on KARE11 and here’s the break down.
This broadcast opened with a mix of news from around the state to more local Minneapolis/st. paul area news. The opening story, 1minute and 30 seconds, told about cases of arson in Pine County. Residents were interviewed along with the local sheriff. The next 2 minutes were spent closer to home, in Stillwater, where 4 people were trapped in and SUV which had submerged in the St. Croix River. During this story an EMT driver was interviewed. Next there was series of very short 15-20 second news clips, each revolving around more violent crimes (conviction of a chat-line robbery, murder suicide, and a wife charged with beating her husband). After the more violent news stories there was a bit of political news. 15 seconds was spent on a bill regarding good faith insurance. 45 seconds on the issue of medical marijuana being discussed in the house. And just before the first commercial break we learn that the Minnehaha pedestrian bridge has opened.
After commercial break there was a brief mention (10 seconds) on the potential Delta/Northwest Airlines merger. There was promise of more on this during the 10 o’clock news. Next a minute was spent on a non-partisan civic fest that will take place during the time of the Republican convention, This in hopes of boosting local economy even more during that busy time. Then another commercial break.
After the break is the weather section of the news. Belinda brought a chunk of ice into the studio to show us that it’s not quite all gone, despite the beautiful 60 degree weather. The weather seemed to go on forever. Belinda showed us the Almanac number comparison so that we could see the norms for this time of year. She also told us when the sun would set and several different looks at the week’s forecast. And another commercial break.
Then we get SHAVER. Randy tells us all about the Wild and the games in CO. Over a minute was spent interviewing Wild players. Just when I thought we were tone with the Wild, then another minute and a half was spent on hockey tips and things that the players need to remember to do while playing the playoffs. Shaver finished off the sports with 10 seconds about the Twins/Detroit game. We also learned what shows were playing on the network that night and a little peak at what to expect on the 10 o’clock news.
The broadcast ended with some Iowans looking at a hole in the ice, supposedly a UFO had crashed into the iced-over lake. The broadcasters laughed and ended the show.

April 10, 2008

this isn't my song assignment, but something I wanted to share!

Hi this week we're talking songs. And I happened across this GREAT lesson using music with the book The Outsiders. Now I can't take credit for creating the lesson, but I got it from a 7th grade teacher at Centennial Middle School (I of course can't remember her name...Ms. Teerhar?? maybe) Anyway just wanted to share!

Anyway. The lesson:
Listen to three different songs. Fill in the chart below to connect themes from the Outsiders with the lyrics from the song. hint...referring to the background of the artist might help you make some connections. Answer the questions below for each song (originally this was in chart form)

Song Title and Artist
What are the songs major themes?
Does it tell a story?
Is there an explicit or underlying political or cultural message?
What scene or characters in the novel share common themes with this piece of music and why?

Then after listening to three songs....
Answer the following questions in no less than 5 complete sentences.

What are the differences in the music listened to by the Greasers, Soc's and the Shepard Gang? Who listened to which music and why? Are there any exceptions or characters who would choose something different from their group?

Song choices:
"Heartbreak hotel"--Elvis
"You've got to Hide you love away"--The Beatles
"I'm so lonesome, I coudl Cry"-- Hank Williams
"Two of us"--The Beatles
"A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall"-- Bob Dylan
"My Generation" -- The Who

A few possible themes:
Social ostracism
forbidden love

March 22, 2008


***FYI for my brief description of scenes and shots...I had all these great little pictures...well they didn't show....lame I'll try to add them

Lately if you’ve been to the store, watched the news, went online or even shopped for fuel-economy cars you may have noticed a trend at moving towards “green? products. There seems to be a large market nowadays for products that are earth friendly. These green products seem to be more easily accessible and user friendly than in the past, making “going green? easier for those people who don’t want to disturb their comfortable plastic bag toting lives, mass consumer lives.
A number of video clips on youtube show a variety of different views on going green. Most of the videos prove to be informative and helpful by presenting easy lifestyles changes, however, other videos seem to label going green as simply a trend that may pass sooner than later. It also seems that some of the videos feature corporations who are using the going green trend to their advantage. This could be in the sense that the corporations realize the demand for green products, but it could also be that they are covering their collective corporate butts by investing in renewable energy sources so as to be ahead of other corportations down the road (ie. Wal-mart clip).

While I’m all for helping the Earth I really really really enjoyed Chelsea Lately’s vidpodcast on going green. It is a satirical play on Hollywood celebs who are fully embracing the going green-ness. Chelsea says she wants to “be a celebrity who’s associated with environmentalism-ish…I also took the bull by the horns when I sold by hummer and bought a smaller hummer?. Even though it mocks the whole idea, its pretty darn funny.
Youtube clip from Chelsea Lately vidpodcast: Going Green

Shot by shot: The video shows two environmental helpers coming to give Chelsea some tips on going green. The first shot, is almost a point of view shot, it shows the back of Chelsea as she i opening up her front door for the two helpers.

Next Shot shows the helpers on one side of the couch with Chelsea on the other. There are two cameras here, one focusing on Chelsea and the other camera focusing on the others. The frame view changes depending on who is speaking in the shot. A long shot is used here. In the kitchen scene a medium shot is used, as the kitchen cupboard is covering the lower half of the people in the scene, and why waste camera space on the cupboard?

A close-up shot is used each time Chelsea admits to something that she does that is completely bad for the environment, yet she thinks she is doing something good.

A pan shot is used as the green helpers and Chelsea are walking down the hall and back towards her front door.

The video differs from some of the others that I took a look at in the sense that it was made with higher quality that the member submitted videos. The steady camera work, the double cameras and the editing are all examples of this higher quality.
The video successfully sends the message that going green is important, easy, and yet some people may be interested in making large life changes without having given enough though to how that could affect their daily living. As some of the video below indicate, going green in a rising trend. As Hollywood celebrities start to embrace this trend, many average people may look to them as role models for how to live a green life. What Chelsea seems to be saying (in a satirical manner)is hey, here, if you are going to make these green changes, for Christ sake, actually go it and don’t just pretend to do it.
The following videos were found by doing a simple search for “going green? on Youtube. Enjoy!

A youtube member response to a previously posted video question: 2007 Trends: Going Green
Here Paul Isakson predicts an increasing trend of green products in the year 2007. He makes this prediction based on the number of people interested in making a change in energy use. Also he notes that the internet has allowed for these concerned people to be heard by corporations and retailers. His second basis for this prediction is that there have been improvements in the design and usability of green products, where previously consumers were unwilling to given up aesthetics and convenience of less earth friendly products. Isakson makes some very valid points and now that we are a year out, I think he has hit the nail on the head. Take a look at the next few videos.

Youtube clip of local newscast: Going Green: Big corporations think environment
Walmart goes green—is that a conundrum? I guess not, looks like a number of major corporations are looking for ways to invest in ways of becoming more efficient and money-wise. Looks like Isakson’s prediction is coming true…

Youtube clip from Hollywood Going Green
Holly tells us that “going green is the new black?. So Iskason was right, going green doesn’t have to mean giving up high fashion items. In fact, it looks like it may be even more comfortable and luxurious to go green.

Youtube clip from the makers of the movie Evan Almighty: Evan Almighty: Going Green
So not only is it just the celebrities who are embracing this trend, but the directors and makers of movies are making headway in their field. This clip is great; the director explains why it was important for him and his crew to leave no trace on the set of Evan Almighty.

Youtube clip from PodiumPictures: Matix Ams Going Green Tour NEW FULL EDIT
And not just Hollywood actors and movie makers, but the skaters are tapping into the trend too. The more the merrier.

Youtube member LIPSYNC post: Going Green Song
So here’s a girl lip syncing to “The Nature Anthem?. I really only included this because youtube seems to be full of these silly lip syncing clips (numma numma hey boy singer…?). But the song has a nice little message I suppose. Plus it also shows other posts by this same girl who treats youtube much like a diary.
he search.

A youtube member contribution: The show is called KEEP IT GREEN, SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT, ONE EPISODE AT A TIME!
The video is one of a serious of videos posted by the same members. The two hosts have many videos that are full of tips on how to go green. This specific video shows the two hosts learning how to take public transportation. There is small mention of the benefits of public transit, but as the video clip continues on the host find a metro station with a bar. Kind of funny, yet they hold true to their message to keep it green by riding public transportation. It may be that the hosts are showing one can kick back, relax and even throw back a drink while saving the environment.

You tube member: Dec. 6th: Peer Pressure and the Green Green Manifesto
Helpful little hints from his Yeti…..Again more tips on how we can be green, plus a selfless plug for his own or for a friend’s website.

Youtube member response to previous manifesto video clip: Vlogbrothers make strides: Going Green 2

Youtube student assignment to create a PSA: PSA: Going Green

I really just thought this was clever and it shows was students can do when given the space for creativity to take place!

March 21, 2008

Media Ethnography!!!

Most people are quite familiar with the online social network For this Media Ethnography assignment I wanted to focus on the Events section of facebook. Here, facebook users can create events and send invitations to their facebook friends, informing them of the time, date, location and such necessary information. The event creator can also post pictures and videos for their event. Once the event is created the creator chooses who to send invitations to. The invitees have the option to RSVP with a Not Attending, Maybe, or Attending response. There is also a wall for the event. The wall (also present on each individual facebook subscriber’s page) is like a discussion board. On the events page the invitee must RSVP before they have the option to contribute to the wall, otherwise they will only be able to view other’s posts. The comments on the events walls vary; some of this has to do with the event itself, and some has to do with each individual invitee. Let’s take a look at a few examples now.

First a few things about the events in general: Facebook requires that the creator indicate the type of the event. The choices include party, causes, education, meetings, music/arts, sports, trips and other. Yet Facebook members are not limited by these eight choices.
Looking closer at the event wall and the responses of the invitees:
It seems that the responses on the event wall vary depending on a number of variables.

After looking through some of the party events (birthday, housewarming, and Halloween) I noticed that there are trends with the wall posts. A typical post includes regret for being unable to attend, often included with a reason. Another common post refers to a specific portion of the who, what, when and where of the event information. Often time this is something comical. For example, one invitee writes “had you gone with the mathematicians theme I would have been there...I'll just return my costume now Have fun!?. This is in response to the event’s theme, “THEME: Sexy Party - Dress sexy, we know you know how.(P.S.) This theme is also up for discussion, but it's a relatively easy one for such a short notice. Alternate theme options include: "16th century mathematicians" and "Prime Ministers of New Zealand." One other common theme among posts to party events is references to past memories with the party host. Some examples include, “ooooooo can we sing happy birthday in 5 part harmony? or have those days past?? and “Hmmmm. If I do come I'm sticking to beer. Remember last time??.
Another type of event that has become popular on facebook is the gathering of telephone numbers when cellphones have been lost/dropped/stolen. Here is an example of this type of event; the event page reads “Adam lost his cell phone and needs every number from every person in the entire galaxy. Msg it 2 me, or wall it, or email it, or call it in at ***-****.? (number removed from this post for security reasons). While this facebook event host received 77 attending RSVPS, 98 people did not RSVP. When asked about this the host, Adam, stated that many of the people just called him without responding. He said this actually worked better because then their numbers were automatically entered into his new cell phone. One of the posts on Adam’s event shows (satirically) why some invitees may hesitate before posting their private telephone number on a social network “I think someone stole your phone Paris Hilton style and posted all the numbers on the internet. I've been getting a bunch of calls from beautiful model/actress type women who want to have my children. At least they tell me they are beautiful model/actress types. You should attach your phone to one of those zip cords that comes off your belt, that way you won't put your friends in a situation like this again. Lots of love brother?.

Another type of event that has circulated the facebook scene is a “project invitation?. It’s quite possible that something similar was sent out by some of my CI 5472 classmates. These types of invents are much like a survey or a poll. They are used to gather information on the effectiveness of the facebook community or to gather signatures for a specific cause. One example is an event created by Steven who was attending a seminar and was given this assignment “This group is to get 1,000,000 signatures for a global communication contest I am in at a training seminar in San Diego. Please help us out by simply giving us a "signagture" with your name, city and country AND then asking your friends to do the same. We are trying to get 1,000,000 hits just using Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and a blog - in 36 hours from all over the world (9am Thursday morning-Pacific Time). You can add to our numbers here by just signing the wall. I'll post our final tally, and let you know whether or not our team was the big winner in this global communication exercise!!!
Thanks, Steve?
Unfortunately Steve only received 134 wall posts, far from 1,000,000. Yet, he asked for names and locations. 8 countries were represented among his 134 wall posts (relatively impressive).
One of my speculations about these types of posts: yes it doesn’t take too much time to sign one’s name, but these types of invites come out more and more frequently. Steve’s event took place in Feb 2007, but I have received a number of these in the past year including the most recent invite from Beth , “I'm doing a paper in my Human Behaviors - The Psychology of Marketing class. The paper is about the marketing world and the changes that have taken place in the last 5 years. One of the main points that I'm trying to make is how influential viral marketing can be. One individual with an average facebook account can reach (screw it) 300,000+ people in less than 10 days just by making a group and inviting people. There have been other experiments where this worked, my paper talks about the likelihood that it can be duplicated?. Most wall posts were encouraging, or showed surprise at the numbers that Beth’s event was reaching, however, this post made me laugh “I must say I doubt I'll post more than this, but I joined for a friend... I'll sadly probably forget all about this group by the time I logout... nothing personal... lol...?.

So now that we’ve looked at a few different events that can be advertised on facebook, let’s do some analysis. For a refresher, the events include parties, lost phone numbers, and projects. The responses vary based on how well the host in know by the invitee, the number of other invitees, and the status of the RSVP. Plus, one must factor in how much time a person has when RSVPing. For some people just clicking attending or not attending is enough. Maybe they don’t have time to write a post, or maybe they don’t have much to say and will wait to save their words for the actual event.
One must also take into account the previous posts. If there tends to be a comical tone to the other posts on the wall it seems some people try to one up each other. Such as the responses to Mike’s Senior Art Show event; one invitee writes “Hey Mike, how about all of you send an invitation to the same damn thing. I'll be there...phuck. :)? . The next post up on the wall “I didn't think I could make it cause I, too, have MY senior art show that night...but, maybe I can squeeze it in.?
While the posts may seem insignificant at first glance, there is much to think about when taking a closer look. This was pretty interesting actually! I’ll probably think twice now before responding to that farewell concert coming up.

March 2, 2008

video type thingy

Well I had some issues.... see I fount this site called and I made this sweet flash book. turns out you need to have access to to see it. so obviously not all who read this are going to go sign up on flip instead I was able to post the video deal to my facebook go ahead and click on the link....

I hope this works...I spent forever making it...leave a comment to let me know if you can see the thing or not

Chapter 5 the phenomena of valentine's day

Week 5- Media Representations of valentine's day

I know that Valentine’s Day is behind us now and some of you couldn’t be happier about that. No more questioning what to get that special someone. No more bombardment of ads reminding you to send flowers, pick up a greeting card, make dinner reservations, buy expensive jewelry. Or worse, reminding you that you are sad and alone and everyone else on Earth has been hit by Cupid’s pointy little love arrow except for you. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great Valentine’s Day.…My school had a Parents Night for Symposium Week (all staff required to attend and stand post at specific stations). Luckily my guy sent me some flowers at school to make it all better. So even though we a week or so out, the topic was relatively fresh on my mind. When I was pushing through ideas of what to look at this week I thought hey, what better to comment on the day that people claim the greeting card industry invented.

Valentine’s Day as Portrayed through the media:
Each year roughly 2-3 weeks prior to February 14 we are reminded that the big day is soon upon us. The reminders typically come in a variety of media forms: television and radio ads, internet pop-ups, links on homepages like and yahoo, store window signs and displays, and maybe your personal calendar. Each of these make it next to impossible to forget.

It seems like the ads/reminders for Valentine’s Day appear earlier each year. One blogger writes “There it was, on my monitor. A pretty picture of red, pink, and white hearts on my ISP’s home page, accompanied by a headline link telling me to ?Plan early? for Valentine’s Day. And Valentine’s Day was still four weeks away? ( The interesting thing—ads act as if they are doing shoppers (mainly men) a favor by reminding them to make Valentine’s Day extra special.

Valentine’s Day ads really have two audiences in mind, the male and the female. Valentine’s Day, according to popular media representations, for females is a day for them to receive gifts. Sometimes those gifts cost lots of money (diamonds/jewelry); sometimes they are completely useless (A giant, pink teddy bear holding a large red heart); sometimes a bit sexy (Victoria’s Secret). Media rarely shows males receiving gifts for Valentine’s Day. However I enjoyed the Hallmark commercial with the musical card that the wife gives to her hubby For the most part ads seem to be helping out the men, letting them know what they need to do to make their ladies feel loved.
Victoria’s Secret
Both of these ads speak directly to the male. He knows after watching that if he purchases from either of these two companies he is likely to be seen as “the perfect man?.

There is a touch of marketing done towards women though too. Magazine’s like Ladies Home Journal publish pages on how to decorate the home for the special day, how to back valentine’s day cookies, how to dress for the occasion, what gifts to buy, and how to help your child decorate the perfect valentine’s day cards
Also the Walgreen’s ad speaks directly to women, but SHOWS men what their women might want.

February 18, 2008

Week 4 Critical Approaches

Week 4

I have had some trouble sorting through all of these critical approaches. Much of me wants to just focus on the critical lenses from Appleman’s book, which is mentioned in this chapter. I’ve had some practice with her critical lenses from a class that I took in the licensure program. Yet I have not officially incorporated the lenses into my own classroom.
By using the critical approaches, I could teach my students dig deeper. Plus they are the ones doing the work to find meaning. The more work time, the more learning time. It seems there is a chronic problem with many students just regurgitating information that they are given. It’s the safe route; if students reword the information that their teachers have already given them, then they can avoid being wrong.
Before getting into the different approaches, I want to hit on one more thing that Beach brought up by saying “It is important that you avoid implying that there are certain ‘correct’ interpretations consistent with your own analysis or biases? (33). Oh how true, and oh how I need to remind myself of this constantly, especially during discussions of whole class novels. I have the tendency to have my own agenda during discussions and if it is not given to me by the students, then I simply give it to them. How likely are they to remember the information if I just hand it to them? I would much rather they search for answers, questions and work to get to a conclusion.

Now on to several of the critical approaches:
I was most interested in audience analysis approach. I think it begs student interest as well. My students range in age from 14-16. Many of them have just started their first part-time job. If they are not working yet, they receive their money by completing chores for their parents. They have expendable income, and to “fit in? most of them are spending spending spending. It’s important then to understand how to become a smart consumer.
I loved the movie Merchants of Cool. It points out that advertisers are trying to sell an image. It made me think of Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman bases his whole being on becoming the successful businessman and the loving and proud father. It is the image of success for him. Juliet Schor points out that “The good life, they suggested [social critics], could be achieved by attaining a comfortable, middle-class standard of living? (Schor). Willy wanted the good-life. We all want it. Of course we could also get into The Great Gatsby too, what with all the material possessions that Gatsby so proudly displays to his many party guests. What I would like to look at then is how audiences of these two pieces of literature reacted. Gatsby’s possessions get him no where, and Willy never fulfills his quest to become rich. So what did this mean to Americans at the time of publication? What does this message mean to readers today? Has are idea of success changed? What influences impact our ideas of success…advertisers? Televisions shows? Role models?

A potential unit:
I think the way to move from point A to point B might be starting with Death of a Salesman and focusing on the American Dream. Then we could move into how advertisers tap into the “pursuit of happiness? to get their consumers to make purchases so as to fulfill their own “American Dreams?. Students could bring in examples of advertisements. We might look at these and locate the specific audience that is being marketed to.

And before moving on…Arthur Miller and Fitzgerald…did these men “position their audiences to adopt certain stances or attitudes? which is what Beach says that media texts do (Beach 34). And if these two authors had a specific agenda while writing, did they impact the idea of the American Dream?

Postcolonial Analysis
This analysis fits exactly with an upcoming elective that I hope to teach next year. The class is world literature/multicultural lit. Because my school’s curriculum uses primarily American classics this class is essential in getting students to consider multiple view points and develop a large world viewpoint. By comparing American and Brit lit representations of other parts of the world with the works of authors who are native to those parts students could compare differences. The students could speculate why American and Brit lit depicts those other parts of the world in the way that they do.

Would it be possible to take one text (movie, tv show, book, short story…whatever) and use multiple critical approaches to look at it? Is there a way to divide students up into groups and have each group become an expert at the approach for one text? Then upon moving to the next text the groups switch, giving each student practice with the different approaches. We could even do peer teaching, having the groups be responsible for mini presentations on their critical approach.

If a course was laid out this way, would it be effective then to carry it through the entire year long course? Or spend just a semester doing so?

February 11, 2008

Royal Tenenbaums Scene
A Clip from The Royal Tenenbaums:

This scene is cut from the beginning of the movie. It is a flashback to the past when the Tennenbaum children were young. The scene shows Chas as a young boy; much of the characteristics that are shown here help the audience to understand the present day Chas and why he acts as he does for the main portion of the movie.
--The text on the screen during several of the frames serves as headings in a scrapbook, giving the audience the feel that they are flipping back through the memories of the past, or possibly serving as form of recording keeping, as though the audience where being shown family files.
--The Omniscient narrator is describing Chas
--The music: Hey Jude, the Beatles, no lyrics (this plays during the flashback sequences.)
--The lighting: There is a yellow colored lens, this is present though the entire movie

The scene opens with a frame of Chas’ bedroom door (each of the other children are introduced in the same way). There is text on the screen.

The next shot shows a young Chas behind an office desk, answering phones and drinking coffee. The camera zooms in from a medium shot to a close up of the multi-tasking Chas. The next shot, a wide-angle, shows the computer in the foreground, with Chas in the background sitting on top of a filing cabinet. Text on the screen again

Next is a frame of shelves full of financial magazines. The narration does not mention any significance of the magazines. Again text on the screen.

The next several frames show Chas flipping through a stack of bills, which he places into a safe. Again there is text on the screen.

The next shot shows Chas’ spotted hamsters. The close up shot displays Chas’ arm reaching into the cage.

The narration continues to tell us more about Chas’ financial success and his natural ability to deal with money, while the camera shows more about the little business man that Chas is, suits, ties, and organized tie rack. Where the narration had matched the shots previous, they have separated at this point as we near the end of the flashback on Chas.

The next shot is of a calisthenics poster hanging on the wall. The camera pans from the wall down giving the audience an aerial view of Chas lifting weights. The narration talks of Chas organizing the finances for Royal’s summer home. Next frame:Royal’s summer home, with text on the screen.

Week 3- Plans to Teach Film-Editing Techniques

If I were to jump in and teach film technique tomorrow I would start off with the use of comics. (and yes I’m beginning a mini unit on comics tomorrow!)As I was reading through the Beach book this past week and studying up on the film terms I was surprised to see that much of the terminology used in film is the same for comics. I guess that makes sense, but I had not thought about either media that much before.

My mini unit on comics will start with a brief intro into this terminology. My students will familiarize themselves with the names of different shots and panel layouts, along with dialog balloons/gutter/emanta and such. My students will then try to locate these in comic books. After this they will have had some time to generate a very basic idea of what it takes to make a story happen in comic book form. They will then create their own comic strips and put these terms to use. (p.s. this chapter came in right at the perfect time! Loved the comic book links from the course resource page. Am putting together a list of sights so that if they are interested they can continue study on their own…it’s only a 2 days class with me for the school’s symposium week. Another site to add to the collection then is

I would love to take the time after the comic books to then move this to the study of film scenes. We could take the same terminology that they have had practice with and begin to break down movies, frame by frame (which is essentially what they were doing with the comic panels). We could then put these frames together and soon be studying whole films.

At this point I’m having trouble focusing on the small lesson to lesson plans, but am instead more concerned with the big picture for how I could get film technique to appear in my curriculum. So I’ll give you the “big picture?:
I would like to set up next year starting with short stories-rising and falling action.
Then a writing unit creating our own stories.
Move to comic form. Study the genre and specific terms. Create a comic to tell a story of our life.
Then on to film. Take the terms we know and understood from comics and now make those frames move. Study how films come together. Scene by scene. While I would like to have students bring in their own clips, I’m sure that wouldn’t be approved of by my school. And so I would have to have a “basket of clips? that students could select and use to study.
Then create our own films: working hand in hand with the drama teacher (a co-teaching opportunity!) I’m concerned here about technology. Do I need to provide cameras for my students? Do I need to get my tech department to open up windows movie maker on the computers? (they have it “hidden? from student access).

My reasoning for starting out this way is it opens doors for creation and hands on learning right away. Plus it also gives me an opportunity to learn about my students’ and their unique stories as they are creating their comic book.

Also I wanted to get to the film studies before any of the novel units. The students at my school have come to expect that they get to watch a film after they read the book. (Yes I’ll admit, I did it earlier this year when we finished Huckleberry Finn…It was my 2nd month of teaching and I had to resort to a quick survival mode as I was grading Huck Finn essays). But if they were given the opportunity to learn that watching a film is more than just a day off from school then we could incorporate watching scenes while reading the books (without me feeling like a lame teacher).

January 29, 2008

Week 2-Justifying Media Studies

I teach 9th and 10th grade Language Arts at PACT Charter School in Ramsey Minnesota. The town is located 30 miles from Minneapolis, yet many of the students who attend the school come from various towns surrounding the school. PACT’s mission statement is as follows:

Partnering together as parents, students, and teachers:
1. To Prepare students for college and life-long learning through a combination of rigorous core academics and innovative teaching methods.
2. To Promote strong moral values thereby developing considerate, responsible citizens who contribute to society.
3. To Pursue a community atmosphere of mutual respect that will cultivate a positive outlook on school, family, and life.

PACT, a k-12 school, is in its fourteenth year. There are a number of students at PACT who were at one time home schooled. There are a handful of students whose parents are employed at the school, creating a very homey and familial atmosphere. Also PACT requires parents and families to volunteer a set amount of hours each school year. Most parent volunteers serve as classroom helpers in the elementary side of the building. Another arena for parents to participate in the education of their children is to participate on a school committee. The school has 15 active committees of which I have listed below. (There are several which meet together such as Elementary Steering and Secondary Steering.)
• PACT School Board
• Building Committee
• Budget & Finance Committee
• Elementary Curriculum Committee
• Elementary Steering Committee
• Enrollment Committee
• Extracurricular Committee
• Fundraising Committee
• Joint Elementary and Secondary Steering Committees
• Long Range Planning Committee
• Personnel Committee
• Sec. Curriculum Committee
• Sec. Steering Committee
• Special Ed. Advisory Committee
• School Improvement Team
• Student Council
• Transportation Committee
• Tehcnology Committee

Teachers are required by contract to attend two of the committees; each meets monthly.

While the school is public and practices open enrollment, there is a strong importance placed on upholding moral values (as stated in the mission statement). There is no affiliation with any sect of the Christian church, yet it’s easy to sense a “Christian agenda? upon conversing with certain committee members/administrators/teachers. Also there are many students at the school who are open about their Christian faith. There is little, if no, diversity in religion.

The demographics of the school: The majority of my students are Caucasian, middle class, suburban students. There are several families who have emigrated from the Ukraine and Russia. While these students speak fluent English, most use their native language at home. Economically speaking, there is a mix between blue-collar and white-collar families sending their children to PACT.

PACT Charter School’s Presumed Attitude Towards the Value of Media Studies
Currently at PACT there is an elective for keyboarding. This is not a required course, yet it is the only course that remotely falls into the category of Media Studies. I participate on the Secondary Curriculum Committee and as a member I know that there is a desire to make keyboarding a required course and to also implement it from the elementary up into the secondary grades. I agree completely, yet keyboarding alone will not give PACT students the information they need to take in, interact with, and produce media.

PACT Charter School employs two media specialists who specialize in the maintenance and updating of the schools technology. These two employees are very knowledgeable and would be excited to integrate more technology into our school setting.

The idea of media studies as its own individualized class is almost out of the question at PACT. The electives for the next 5 years have been established and approved at the December Secondary Curriculum Committee meeting. Changing these electives would throw off scheduling for multiple classes, including Art, music, band, choir, Spanish and keyboarding. Logically then, media studies would have to be incorporated into the core classes.

Due to PACT’s unique curriculum approval policy (curriculum is reviewed and then voted upon by the committee) it may be difficult to have materials approved for a course such as media studies. Not because of explicit or questionable content, or because of the fears of irrelevance, but due to the constant updating and changing information in the media studies field. I would be completely willing to work around that and push for media studies regardless.

Below is a portion of the school approved 9-10 Language Arts syllabus:
Course Description:
Language Arts 9/10 is a broad-based class designed to help students become dynamic communicators, creative thinkers, and avid readers. Students will continue to develop their grammatical skills and will put those skills to work in composition assignments. Literature that inspires, entertains, and teaches valuable life lessons will be introduced with the hope that students will learn to love literature and reading in general.

There are three basic components to the language arts program:
1. Grammar and Writing -- Understanding the terminology of grammar and the basic sentence structure is crucial to good writing. Grammar is the mathematics of words. Understanding how each word functions within a sentence allows the writer to know whether the word is in the right place and if it conveys the appropriate thought. Students will gain a working knowledge of grammatical terminology, basic sentence structures, and correct punctuation. The grammar and writing portion of this course will be interspersed within the other units in the class.
2. Whole class reading -- Certain literature is foundational to our understanding of our country and our world. In order to give students a common literature background, we will cover certain texts as an entire class.
3. Choice reading – In order to allow students more choice in their reading, there will be 4 opportunities for choice reading this year. Different projects, papers, and oral presentations will be used to assess choice book readings. Students will be expected to read outside of class. While there will be opportunities for in class reading on specific days, students are responsible for making sure reading assignments are completed on the day they are due. Students should ALWAYS bring their choice books to class.

The Language Arts curriculum is focuses mainly around reading classic literature. My reading material for the year consists of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Crucible, and Romeo and Juliet. The students also read 4-6 “choice books? per year (these must be approved as well).

** It is also important to know that the school has and A and B year schedule. This year is a b year. Next year I will have my current 9th graders as 10th graders. Because I teach each student 2 years in a room, then next year I will be on an A schedule and teach the A year curriculum (books include The Pearl, Our Town, and Henry V).

Rationale for Media Studies at PACT Charter School
PACT Charter School’s mission states that as a school we will “Prepare students for college and life-long learning through a combination of rigorous core academics and innovative teaching methods?. Today’s world is full of media. Parents, teachers and children are each consuming types of media that were non-existent just a few years ago. Technology is continuing to expand into new aspects of our daily lives. Today’s students are digital natives, having grown up in a world that runs primarily on multiple forms of mass communication. PACT Charter School should be aware that, as Richard Beach states, “the curriculum framework itself needs to be transformed in ways that recognize the centrality of media/digital illiteracies in student lives?. (Beach 8). By making changes to certain aspects of the Language Arts curriculum at PACT, we can better prepare our students.
There has already been concern expressed by all parties that many of the students in our school are unable to critically analyze. This has come up at several of the past curriculum committees. What I’m proposing today is a relevant and realistic way for us to help our students analyze the information that they receive. We’ve always said that it is important for our students to think for themselves. Let’s use media studies to give them that opportunity.

By including aspects of media studies within the Language Arts Curriculum students will:
-Think critically about the vast amount of information available on a daily basis
-Produce and understand texts
-Bridge technology use at home to classroom use
-Analyze social and cultural constructions
-Create an understanding of their individual cultural identities

Current Curriculum (9-10 grade level)
Course Outline
Week 1: Introduction
• Development of goal statements
Weeks 2-9: Speech Unit
• Interviews and Introduction Speeches
• Demonstration speech
• Informative speech
• Storytelling

Weeks 10-15: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Weeks 16-18: Short Story Unit
Weeks 19-22: Research Unit
Weeks 23: Symposium
Weeks 24-29: The Crucible
Weeks 30-34: Romeo and Juliet
Weeks 35-36: Poetry Unit
Weeks 37: Wrap up

Proposed Curriculum (9-10 grade level) I think it best to start off small. By reworking specific units so that students are introduced to the idea of media studies, we can allow our teachers time to become more knowledgeable and more confident with the idea of media studies.

My proposed curriculum then focuses on the Romeo and Juliet Unit (p.s. I’ll be teaching this at the end of March and early April of this year)

Because many of the students are already familiar with the story line of Romeo and Juliet, this seems like an ideal place to start.

For this unit students would start by learning different film techniques. They view clips of the same scene from several different film versions of the play. They would be able to identify the film techniques and decide if the scenes from the different movies worked the same, or in different ways. We would talk about which scenes were more effective at portraying the main ideas of the play.

We would move from main idea/plot into theme. How the world around us can shape how we act and how we feel about others. Examples: Romeo and Juliet influenced by family disputes. We could then talk about what influences in our world shape our views…oooo and move into a discussion about the bias of the media. This could then potentially move into several different writing assignments.
1. Critically analyze a type of media that has influence on your life
2. Looking at sources for research paper. How do we know if a source is credible?
3. a Critical analysis of the play itself…….

January 26, 2008

First Entry...thoughts on week 1

Well, this is my first official shot at a blog. I'm sure that's how most people start too....

For starters I want to say that its exciting to be in class again. With every class that I take towards my Masters of Ed I get more and more pumped that I chose to be a teacher. Right from the get go I was wondering how I could start getting this stuff directly into my classroom.
--- I teach 9th and 10th grade at a charter school 30 miles from Minneapolis. The school's charter is to create college bound learns, high moral standards, and to pursue a community atmosphere. I have a love/hate relationship with my school. Love, because the majority of the kids are just absolutely amazing to work with. Hate, because there are many hurdles that get in the way of teaching material that will allow my students to think critically about the world around them. I could go on and on forever about the unique characteristics of my school, but for now just know that it's hard to get curriculum approved.----

Back to how I want to use the information from CI 5472 in my class. So right off the bat I'm thinking this is amazing and the good thing is, my school has a knack for getting the grants we need to provide for our students. The unfortunate situation is that we just built a new school building 3 years ago and are already at a loss for space. We have 2 computer labs....2!!! in a new school, that is ridiculous, and they are not quite what one would expect for a computer lab. However, at least there are computers, I should not complain. However, the tricky part comes in with the way my school works. And I fear that many parents/committee members/admins might put up a fight about the amount or type of technology that could potentially be imbedded in the curriculum.

I stopped worrying too much thought and I figured I better let myself learn a little bit more from the class before I freaked out. So I thought I would ask my students about how they use technology, just to get a little peak. They journaled; I asked them "please write about how you use technology in your life. Then I asked questions like .....How many hours of tv do you watch each day? Do you have a computer? Do you have internet access? Do you listen to the radio? MP3 player, podcasts? Have you ever made a podcast? Do you have your own email? Do you have your own website? Blog? Myspace? Facebook? and the list went on and students were to just tell me how this technology influenced their lives and to imagine what it might be like without that technology.

The responses to the journal questions were amazing. First off, I was so surprised at how interested they were that I was taking a class on technology. It seemed to spark quite a bit of interest (and on a side note, has helped me become closer to one of my struggling students who is extremely bright, just SO not interested in what we do in class...). Plus journaling is kind of hit or miss...some days its amazing depending on the prompt. Other days students finish in 2 minutes. Which is not ok as they are asked to write the entire time period (usually 3-7 minutes depending on the prompt). But they really went to town answering. And even better was the small discussion we had after the journal period. It was shocked to see a large portion of my 2nd hour raise their hands when I asked if they had TV's in their rooms. But even more shocked to see them keep their hands in the air when I asked if they also had computers with internet access in their rooms too!!!! This from students with ultra conservative parents!!! Yeah I was surprised...

So on we go...

I guess I didn't talk much about the group chat, or the readings or viewings....but can I save that for my discussion post? I think so---