I picked a mentor text with a thematic element that connected to our discussions surrounding 451. Another RSA video, Ken Robinson’s “Do Schools Kill Creativity” provided an opportunity to discuss genre and thematic elements. Before showing them the mentor text, I announced, “ I know what I want to do, but I don’t know how to do it. I am confident we can figure it out together”. You can read about the process or view the videos. However, there was some unexpected learning that was perhaps, the most valuable part of the project.
Joe Wood tweeted about my project and shared it with the author of the blog that inspired the project. He showed his students the videos. Soon I received the private Tweet, “take a look at the last video on the page you sent me...my class gave a bit of a gasp at one of the speech bubbles :)” from Paul Bogush. I immediately interrupted my students. “Okay, who did something ”? They looked at each other. I read the tweet out loud. Knowing glances passed all the way through the room. I furiously started viewing videos. Should I have previewed before allowing them to post?
Come to find out one video contained a cartoon image of an asian stick figure with a bubble saying, “Ching Chong” and a characterture of a black stick figure saying , “Yo”. The creators of the video, two Asian females and a black female student, immediately defended themselves by saying, “...but I am Asian, I can say it!” Three minority, female students appropriated stereotypes and used them to demonstrate power over their own identities. They used the stereotypes to create humor in much the same way as Margaret Choi.
This experience led my class to discuss the importance of knowing the cultural context of their audience and being aware that they did not have to worry about what I thought when I saw the video, but what the world thought when they saw their video. This authentic discussion regarding audience never occurs after an essay assignment. It took a wider audience to bring about this awareness to my students.