November 2010

Another voice from the Mediated Communication Theory course!


My senior capstone course, Mediated Communication Theory, combines both classroom learning, and community based learning. We not only learn in the classroom about media theories and media literacy, but we take our knowledge and apply it to real life by serving as media literacy facilitators at an after school program in Brockton.  At Davis Commons, the after school program, we provide weekly lesson plans for young people revolving around topics we cover in class that same week.  In class last week, we talked about media violence (i.e., research on the portrayals and effects of screen violence) and based our lesson plan on that topic.

On Thursday afternoon, my four classmates and I arrived at Davis Commons to present our lesson plan on media violence. When we first arrived the young people were doing all sorts of activities. Some were playing on the computer, others were cheering on a game of pool, and some were quietly working on their homework. Since last week was our third week at Davis Commons, the children were familiar with us and why we were there, and so were eager to hear what we had planned for them.  My group presented our lesson plan on Thursday, and because the children had spent two days prior learning the content and effects of media violence with other groups from our class, our goal was for the children to apply what they learned to real life scenarios.  In other words, since the media message kids see often resorts to violence to solve problems, we hoped to introduce the topic of conflict resolution. Our lesson plan about conflict resolution was twofold. The first part involved reading hypothetical situations and seeing how different children would respond to them. We filmed some of the children’s responses to these situations, and the kids really loved sharing on camera! One such scenario involved a fight between friends, in which one friend challenged another friend to a fight after school. The young people shared ways to solve this and four other situations without using violence, such as cool down before you try to resolve a conflict, and listen carefully while the other person is talking. The girls in the program especially loved sharing when it came to these topics.  Everyone really came together to think of the best ways to solve each scenario with the least amount of conflict possible. After we had gone over five situations and talked about good ways to respond, we divided the young people into two groups, in which they would act out both a conflict and a resolution to that conflict. Both groups acted out successful ways of solving problems without using violence.

Because children are bombarded with violence daily in their favorite TV shows, movies, and video games, media violence is an important topic. The young people at Davis Commons really showed that even though they see violence in the media all the time, they can solve the different problems they encounter in their everyday life in a non-violent way. One girl from Davis Commons shared that she was recently in an argument with a friend regarding a boy they both liked. From our lesson, the young girl came to the conclusion that she first needed to cool down, and then have a respectful talk with her friend to try to work things out. The young people did a great job participating in our lesson plan and especially loved acting out conflict resolution scenes on camera. Thursday’s visit was both fun and successful!



This is the second Blog entry by a student in the course Mediated Communication Theory

Reflections on Facilitating a Media Literacy Lesson Plan on the Topic of Media Violence

As part of our Mediated Communication Theory course, our Capstone class, we have a Community Based Learning component in which we have been making weekly visits to Davis Commons in Brockton to teach media literacy to elementary and middle school children.  We are beginning our fourth week of visits and it really seems like the children at Davis Commons are beginning to warm up to us, and they understand the purpose behind our visits.  Last week our lessons focused on the topic of media violence.  We are seeing larger crowds of kids being drawn in (some enticed with candy; others motivated by genuine interest) to our weekly lessons.  Regardless of how they get there though, they all have very unique and interesting comments and stories that enrich the learning process, as they are all are eager to participate.  Through their own examples they find ways to relate to the material that we are teaching them all while making it more manageable for their peers.  One of the most impressive things that I have come to notice is how knowledgeable these kids are when it comes to technology.  They know all the ins and outs and the latest and the greatest, which is one of the main reasons why it is so important for them to increase their level of media literacy.

As stated before our media lesson this past week revolved around media violence.  We hoped to make the kids more aware of violence in the media and then help them to see differences between the media and real life when it comes to this topic.  To start off the lesson, we had them view a clip from the cartoon TV show, Family Guy.  The clip was silly in nature but involved one of the main characters physically battling a chicken (i.e., an example of humorous violence).  At first the kids saw it as nothing but humorous but as the discussion progressed, they were able to identify the clip as violent, regardless of comedic value.  We sparked more conversation as we showed other clips; these discussions were based on the research we covered in our CO419 class about “high risk” and “low risk” depictions of media violence.  Such high-risk depictions of media violence can potentially lead to three negative outcomes (the learning of aggression, desensitization, and fear) among audience members.  We showed clips where violence was rewarded and where it was punished.  By the end of the lesson, the kids were telling us about desensitization (one of the three documented effects of media violence exposure) and how they see it in their schools and communities.  At this point, it was clear to us that they not only understood what we were conveying but they completely comprehended and were then able to apply the lesson to their own lives.  Another successful day at Davis Commons!

So far, this Community Based Learning project has been a positive experience for all involved.  It is our hope that the kids at Davis Commons are learning something from our visits, but either way it is obvious that they are excited to see us when we arrive and it appears that they are genuinely enjoying our presence.  It should continue to be an exciting semester and we look forward to our future visits to the children at Davis Commons.