In our Language and Literature class, we spent the first quarter discussing advertising techniques, propaganda strategies, and rhetorical devices. Students were able to unpack how these tools are used to inform and to persuade. Where advertising is concerned, it was clear to them how consumers were prompted to purchase certain items and to buy into some ideas.
However, where the news is concerned students took some time to see how the fourth estate can shape their viewers’ perception. The students were grouped into 2 groups and each group was assigned to read 3 articles on two world leaders:
One group studied how Philippine President Duterte is presented in the media in the context of the drug wars. They revealed how the press tries to associate Duterte with qualities such as brute force and iron will. They also made a distinction between how the local and international news depict him.
Another group studied how the Western and South Korean press depict North Korea’s Kim Jong-In. They analyzed how he is portrayed as the enigmatic and volatile leader of an isolated country.
Overall, the students were able to evaluate how the news, while it proclaims to be impartial in informing the public, is also a hotbed for bias.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn.”
We have been doing literature circles in our 6th grade class to guide students to a more in-depth understanding of the texts assigned. Through structured discussions and creative responses, this student-centered activity provides opportunities for the students to be more engaged and think critically.
The 6th graders chose their roles from any of the following ‘jobs’: Super Summarizers, Imaginative Illustrators, Quick Question Makers, and Word Wizards. It was interesting to see how even some of the most quiet students start contributing to discussions in their groups. It was also a good way to get to know the students better. For instance, some of us didn’t know how well some students can draw until they became an imaginative illustrator!
After reading Creation of the Titans and Gods and My Misbegotten Christmases, the 8th grade students discussed the texts through Socratic Seminar, a student-led discussion based on Socrates’ method of inquiry consisting of a series of questionings.
There’s no one way to do a Socratic Seminar, but in our class, what we did was divide the class into two groups. The first group formed a circle and discussed open-ended questions related to the texts while the second group took notes from the first group’s discussion, and vice versa. Each student should give a meaningful input to the discussion at least twice.
This activity was a good opportunity to hear the ideas of students who rarely volunteer to recite in class. Some of them came up with interesting points as well. “Prometheus didn’t deserve the freedom he received because he’s a snitch,” a student quipped while discussing the fates of the titans and gods. “Why not? The titans didn’t listen to him so he brought up the idea to the gods, so that doesn’t make him a traitor,” argued another. In the end, they just had to agree to disagree.
Since the Socratic Seminar is student-led, we further got a glimpse of who can facilitate discussions well among the 8th graders. This was a good start in training them in speaking in front of their classmates as they have to do an individual oral presentation at the end of the first quarter.