You know that T.V. show that you’ve always found absolutely brilliant? The one that impacts the way you see things, or makes you laugh harder than you ever thought you would, or shocks you with a surprise turn of events? Perhaps, like me, you never realized you could use clips from it in class to engage your students, share more voices with them, and help guide them into worthwhile projects. My guest today for episode 105 is Danielle from Nouvelle ELA, who returns to the show to share her love for T.V. and her expertise at weaving it artfully into your curriculum
You can listen in below, or on Apple Podcasts, Blubrry, Sticher, or Spotify.
So today we’re talking about using T.V. episodes to engage in the classroom. My first reaction to this was: are we allowed to do that? And my second was: of course! What a great idea! How did you first get started with this?
Danielle first used a Twilight Zone episode to talk about allegory in a short story unit, and the kids loved it! It changed her whole perspective on the role of T.V. in the classroom, and how to leverage it as an engagement tool. She began to think about T.V. episodes as short stories.
Do you ever get kickback from families about using pop culture in the classroom? How would you recommend someone respond to folx who might raise dust about this?
T.V. is not and will never replace the written word! It’s not even a frequent text for Danielle, but she chooses to weave in clips in just like she weaves in songs, poems, plays, novels, short stories, articles, and more. She suggests you choose a T.V. show you can treat like a poem, and consider how you can use it to master a skill.
Maybe you use it to help students to analyze story structure, cite evidence to support a claim, present two opposing viewpoints, or inspire them to conduct short research.
The biggest kickback Danielle has received has been online from people saying T.V. can’t be part of a rigorous curriculum, but it can! For example, maybe kids watch three minutes of a John Oliver clip and then write a related speech. If you teach these texts with intention, you can avoid pushback.
Now I was going to ask you first about your favorite t.v. shows to share, and then about your favorite extension projects, but I realized they really can’t be divided. Each show leads to a specifically wonderful type of project. So can you walk us through a few of your favorite pairings? (maybe three or four?)
For this question, I’m going to point you towards Danielle’s two extensive blog posts on this topic:
One thing I love about bringing in a T.V. episode (or three) is that you can use them to address things going on in the world today that maybe your department isn’t greenlighting new books to discuss. I’m thinking of topics like race relations in the U.S. today, American political culture, global warming, things like this that kids want to talk about but don’t necessarily flow easily from the curricular novel list at many schools. What are some of your favorite shows that can springboard to speaking and writing projects on important modern topics?
T.V. can allow you to connect to topics that are vital at this moment – like coronavirus – that your district may feel it doesn’t make sense to invest in with longer-term books and programs.
T.V. can also allow you to bring in more voices to your curriculum, if you are struggling with a defined curriculum that is mainly one-dimensional. Check out the episode “Juneteenth” from Blackish to get you started in this direction.
John Oliver’s Rant Series (or persuasive speech series, whatever you want to call it) is a great mentor text for teachers to turn around and have students write their own persuasive speeches. In distance learning, kids can record their speeches on Flipgrid to share.
There’s an episode of Mr. Rogers that features a ten-year old, Jeff Ehrlinger, who used a wheelchair, about six years before the ADA, when disability representation on T.V. was still very rare. You could pair this clip with Judy Human’s Ted Talk on how far disability rights have come and what we still have left to do. This can lead into a wonderful research project for students to research a subject they’re interested in and show what has been accomplished already and what’s left still to do.
What are some of the easiest platforms for teachers to access these shows on, especially if they need to link them for kids at home?
Connect with Danielle from Nouvelle ELA
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