Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Working Mom Wednesdays: English in the Media Class

Some people wanted to hear about how this class turned out. The last day was yesterday, and we took a survey to see how the students felt about each of the activities we did.

Day One: Video Sharing and Viral Videos (You Tube)
Here is a list of what we showed:
Rick Astley - Never Gonna Give You Up (The Art of Rick Rolling)
Frozen Grand Central (brought to you from Improv Everywhere)

After explaining a little about the short history & purpose of You Tube (my students first guessed that You Tube is over 20 years old!), we talked about viral videos in general. Then, we showed them the videos and had them fill out a chart where they had to match the number of views they thought that video had gotten so far. (The year of posting was listed next to the video titles, and the answer box with all the numbers in it was provided below.). They also were asked to jot down their impression of each video.

If we had had more time that day, we would have asked them to go ahead and find a few virals on their own and then recommend some good ones to the class.

We ran out of time though because we also showed them some of the parodies and remixes that people have made based on the original viral videos. Once again, the BLACK HOLE that is You Tube.

Day Two: Interactive Web Sites and Games (Discovery, Scholastic, Cartoon Network, etc.) - we will be sticking with the G-rated types!
I was not in class on Day 2, 3 or 4 due to a prior commitment, but Chris taught by himself. From what I gather, he introduced some of these web sites and then let them play around.
He then gave them some hints about how to get more information about their own hobbies  and showed them how to bookmark the sites.

Day Three: Social Networking Sites (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.)
I think MySpace is kind of dead and in fact, was bought out by Facebook or something? Anyway, it is the "original" social networking site for English-speakers, so Chris introduced it. In Japan, they use Mixi, which is still very popular.
He first had the students make their gmail accounts since most of them only use their cell phones for texting. He then talked about each of the above sites, their purposes, and had the kids brainstorm ways to stay safe while using these sites. Then, he let them start their own Facebook and Twitter accounts. Most of them are already using Facebook, I think.

Day Four: TV Shows & British Humor
Pink Panther (actually from the Steve Martin movie)
Little Britain (interview with Elton John)

Since I wasn't there, I am not entirely sure which clips from these shows that Chris decided to show, but the above links will give you an idea in case you have never seen these shows.

Chris let the students watch the clips, write down some of the phrases they could catch and then rate the clips according to "funniness".

Day Five: TV Shows & American Humor
I came back to school on this day, so I could actually teach this class, but I was very pressed for time in choosing clips. In fact, since there are billions and billions to choose from, it was so hard to narrow it down! Here is what I showed in the end.

Saturday Night Live
The Famous sketch starring John Belushi, where he is a samurai sandwich maker. We could not get this off of You Tube and Chris used another web site to access it. It was actually quite difficult to get decent-quality clips of SNL from You Tube. We do not have access to because we are located outside of the USA.

Sara Palin & Hillary Clinton (done by Tina Fey and Amy Poelher). This was inaccessible as well, and we could only get the Good Morning America news report clip. Sucks! But anyway, our sophomore students barely remember Palin and they only know Hillary because of her husband, Bill, so they didn't really get it. But, we wanted to show an example of political satire because that is SO NOT DONE HERE in Japan.

Mad TV
It was so easy to get clips of Mad TV from You Tube.

Sitcom - That 70's Show

The Culture Lab (Japanese Sushi) - Since this is subtitled in English and narrated in Japanese, the kids were on the floor laughing about how hilarious and off-putting this explanation of how to eat sushi and how to act in a sushi restaurant. They loved seeing how Japan is "made fun of" by other countries and wanted to see more. They felt the same about the Korean drama parody.

We asked students to observe the "style" of comedy, which we broke into the following categories:
Cultural (ethnic, age, gender, political, etc.)
(Honestly, I cannot remember any more of our categories.)

Day Six: Blogs
We introduced them to various types of blogs, parts of blogs (blog rolls, link lists, comments, etc.), history and purpose of blogs, what makes them popular, etc. Then, we showed them how to find blogs according to their interests.

All Top

Finally, we gave them time to use one of these resources to search for a few blogs that they could recommend to the class. This is a tough, but important topic, for students because we want them to read more! Plus, we want them to read about topics they are interested in and choose by themselves, BUT so many of our students don't like to read.

Day Seven: Podcasts (both audio and video podcasts)
The Podcast industry has grown immensely in the past couple years, so it is harder than ever before to go through iTunes (or other web sites) and narrow it down to a good sampling. First, I wanted to show students how to access the podcasts on iTunes. Some of them have iTunes and use it for music and music videos, but most had never ventured into the podcast category. What you must remember is that audio podcasts are going to be very difficult for them to follow, even with a vocabulary list. (Believe me, I have tried it!) So, I tried to stick with video podcasts. Here is what I showed them:
Annoying Orange: The Lady Pasta episode
Delicious TV: How to make Cauliflower Rice
Sesame Street: The Letter L
The Sound of Young America: Jordin Ranks America (audio)
TED: Legos for Grown-ups

The students really loved Annoying Orange because the episode happened to be a spoof on a Lady Gaga video, and my students are really into her right now. They were absolutely shocked that someone would make a cauliflower dish to look like white rice, and they thought it was a joke! They enjoyed writing down all the L words as they watched the Sesame Street episode. No one (including me) really got the Jordin Ranks America, but I have to say that it is one episode of a variety/interview podcast, and is actually quite interesting. TED, if you don't know, is conference which invites people to give speeches about a certain theme. It is a great way to find good example speeches to show students when teaching presentation skills.

Day Eight: TV Shows: Sitcoms - I ended up showing an episode from Full House, Season 8. I didn't have time to make a brand new worksheet and was also unable to download the sitcoms I wanted from iTunes. I guess they are not available on iTunes or something. In any case, Full House is fairly easy for our kids to follow and they already know all the characters, so it was easy to do it, even without a worksheet! We just stopped the DVD about every 5 minutes and asked them to summarize what was going on so far.

Student Response
Response to the class included comments about how fun it was to watch the American comedy clips, how difficult the British comedy clips were, how they would like to watch other sitcoms, dramas or movies, and even suggested a few (Glee, Friends, Ghost Whisperer, Mr Bean, Hannah Montana, etc.), how they would like to try some singing and dancing themselves, and have more chances to "talk in English." (Well, I would love for my students to talk more in English and I give them plenty of chances to do that. They need to take it a step further by responding to me in English rather than stare blankly or continue chatting with their friends in Japanese. Oh, I love being a teacher.) Anyway, that is it on the Media Class!

On that last day, we allowed the kids to bring in snack food, and we provided the beverages, so we could have a "party" while watching Full House. It was a fun way to end the class, and now I am officially DONE for the summer. I still have to work and prepare for the fall classes, and I need to start checking summer homework (deadline on August 10) which will be coming in via email.


Shannon said...

This sounds like it was a lot of fun. Glad the kids liked it.

Anonymous said...

Glad you had the kids discuss staying safe online.

Wow, are we old or what? Gone are the days when Monty Python was there in the British humor lineup...

Oh my goodness, I forgot about Toonces!

Wow, accessing the internet must not be easy there outside of the USA!

Interesting to note, the husband and I have been into Japanese prank shows we are pulling off Youtube. They have a wacky, slapstick sense of humor, huh?


Mande said...

Yes, anything comedic was definitely the highlight. I guess for Brits, Monty Python is old-school and they seem to enjoy what those same actors, like John Cleese, are currently doing. Fawlty Towers is one of Cleese's latest shows.
Japanese comedy is so, dare I say it, childish and annoying. It might be fun for people who don't understand the language or when they just see a few of the more silly clips. But, mostly, the TV shows are made up of a panel of "talent" (famous people who have no other talent except to be famous) who give their "opinions", cry, laugh and eat a variety of foods. If it's good, they say "umai" in a variety of intonations. If it's spicy, they make funny faces and say "karai" in a variety of intonations. I don't think they are funny at all. My husband thinks she shows are hilarious.