Friday Post: "Big Picture" Inspiration"
Follow the Old Skool Cheetohs Trail
Much like the police who recently followed the Cheetohs trail of empty snack packs to find the trio of teens who broke into a vending machine at a local community center (and later were caught at one of their family homes where the evidence trail came to an end), much of learning are fact trails laid out by teachers taking advantage of time-tested protocols for helping students move from point A to point Z in a given knowledge-based curriculum.
As tempted as I am to wave the future shift flag high above my head on occasion, I really do enjoy a student who has a solid base of knowledge under their feet before they begin to debate with me the semantics of a better way to learn in my classroom.
And I find that very same student even more compelling when their knowledge base can show me something new, too, especially if it can have a legit impact on our shared classroom and my own professional development in the process.
Big City Police Dept. Showing a Better Way
But we all know that traditional education only gets you so far up today's learning curve.
Let's say you're a big city police officer who has a hard-to-solve set of surveillance footage of a series of recent crimes. Let's say that even with the footage, you and your team are having a difficult time finding legit suspects.
What do you do, besides pulling out the "Cold Case" filing cabinet drawer?
Well, perhaps -- like the Dallas (TX) Police Department has been doing recently -- you begin to post surveillance footage of various crimes on YouTube in an effort to engage the community to share tips/leads.
Crazy, you say?
That's precisely what many of the department's own officers said at first. Until they began to get some crazy view counts on what would otherwise be random/useless footage.
And now suddenly those same officers who faced internal criticism suddenly look like new media Lone Rangers in the process. Especially when one such video post has already led to an arrest.
Have You Made Your List, Yet?
Heck, if big city police departments are turning to YouTube to help their cause, how am I supposed to shake dy/dan's new media curriculum list prompt from not so long ago?
Maybe it was this subtle bit of challenge that stirred the idea-pot for me:
So love what you teach and sharpen your eyes to find what you love embroidered within the fabric of popular culture. Don't present these videos to your students as gimmicks or, worse, as winking concessions to their allegedly lowbrow tastes. These videos are important to them, which makes them important to you.
As he said, it's about what's important to our key audience (students). And thus what's important to us (teacher types). This is what the police dept figure out. To their benefit. Seems that maybe a single teacher like me shouldn't stand in the way of new media networking inevitability.
That's precisely why I'm already in talks with Dina about co-developing an English-centric reservoir of unexpected video gems that support a host of classroom specific ideas along the lines of what Todd has been doing with "literary terms" (personification, simile, irony, you name it).
Throwing the Kids into the Game, Too
Dina's suggestion to me grew out of a comment I left over at the dy/dan joint:
In the meantime, I’m going to get back on my comfy “let the children lead the way” pied piper bandwagon chair and challenge my students to populate an English-centric list (say, literary terms, which Todd already began to develop quite well) with a delicious snack-fest of multi-media goodies of their own.
And in a blink of an eye -- thanks to Todd's list -- this very project concept has taken a front-n-center seat in my planning book for this fall's classroom program.
For me/my kids, it'll be a gathering of film and TV episode clips that highlight the various stages of Joseph Campbell's hero journey which will be central to everything we analyze/write this year. I'm already burning the midnight oil over in YouTube land finding more 2 minute film trailer gems than I can possibly cash in.
You See: YouTube Loves Joseph Campbell
- Think Fozzie Bear and Kermit the Frog singing "Moving Right Along" ("in search of good times and good friends...") as they hit the road early on in "The Muppet Movie" helping to illuminate the "Crossing the First Threshold" concept.
- Think Neo being offered the blue pill by Morpheus to shed light on the "Supernatural Aid" (i.e. meeting the mentor) chapter.
- Or think "The Princess Bride" as a whole giving every archetypal term a run for its money.
Even better, think, "Hey, students, how about you begin brainstorming a master list that we fill with YouTube clips during this first week of the school year? Maybe we can put together something that students/teachers from around the world studying Joseph Campbell and literary heroes can use to grasp what you guys will be experts on?"
Following a Tangentially Similar Spirit
Hardly the first to link here, but I'm becoming a bigger and bigger fan of MadVs "The Message" hand vid (along with the rest of what he's putting on the screen). Something tells me that it'll be an interesting conversation prompt -- void of any real set-up by me -- early this school year:
Maybe I'll ask, "What do we do with this bad-boy here in our very own classroom?", after the vid comes to an end.
Or maybe I'll just let it hang in the air, zero words added to the mix.
Wanted: Eng. Teacher Types, Good Radar
Any English teacher types with decent radar for locating new media clips that cleverly illuminate various concepts for MS/HS English students interested in teaming up on the creation of a master site of resources that follow through on dy/dan's/todd's challenge?
If so, fire me off an email or comment. Dina and I would love the company.
In the meantime, I'm gonna add to my English teacher grab bag this lovely little clip from "Pineapple Express" which I just saw at the theater today:
A surprisingly good film (once you get past the obvious stoner white noise that almost seems straight-to-cult-video for the first 20 minutes) that follows in the clever footsteps of "Hot Fuzz" and "Shaun of the Dead".
File it under "epiphany" | "transformation" on the lit term shelf for your young story writers. Something tells me they'll nail the vocab quiz that follows.