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Introducing Basic Media Literacy Education Skills with Greeting Cards
|Grades||5 – 6|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Three 50-minute sessions|
Fredonia, New York
- identify a variety of special occasions in order to determine the specific elements associated with those occasions.
- compose authentic messages for a specific purpose, audience, and occasion.
- create a greeting card for a specific purpose, audience, and occasion.
- articulate their choices in composing authentic messages.
- Ask writers to think of a holiday that is celebrated or observed in their family or culture. It doesn’t have to be a major holiday—any observance will do for this activity. After students have chosen their individual holiday, give them the Holiday Celebrations handout and have the students free write a list of all the elements associated with that holiday, including, but not limited to the following:
- special foods eaten mainly on that day
- religious or government ceremonies
- a “character” of some sort
- a particular place
- family traditions
- special decorations
- gifts exchanged
- particular kinds of music
- events that occur on this day
- season/time of year/date
- costumes or special items of clothing that are worn
- For this writing, writers should assume an audience who is unfamiliar with the holiday in order to elicit an appropriate level of detail. Writers could also be encouraged to write about a particular holiday remembrance to share as part of this step.
After students are finished writing, have someone volunteer a holiday, and that student and others who chose the same holiday can list its elements on the board or overhead, just to have a group example. After the discussion, give the writers a few more minutes to add anything new to their lists that they may have forgotten. If students wrote of a specific remembrance, ask for volunteers to share.
The next part of the lesson involves examining different holiday cards. Divide writers into groups of 4 or 5 and pass out collections of holiday/event cards (both traditional paper cards and online greeting cards that have been printed). Have the groups examine the colors, images, and sentiments written on the cards.
As a whole class, let each group present their findings on commonalities of the cards. Help writers discuss how the rhetorical elements are appropriate for the audience and the occasion as well as how effective they think the cards are. For example, a group with St. Patrick’s Day cards will probably note the predominance of the color green and the use of shamrocks, which are appropriate elements for the occasion.
Through the discussion, reinforce the idea that the messages are constructed with the audience and occasion in mind. This discussion helps students think critically about the messages received through the cards and listen to each other’s perspectives and points of view.
- As a culminating activity, students could write the name of a school event that they all have in common on an index card and begin thinking about the elements of that occasion. The card could be collected as an Exit Slip or it could be as Exit Slip for the next session.
In preparation for the final stage of the lesson in which students create their own holiday and card for it, use a school event/occasion to model creating a card or invitation for a specific audience and occasion.
- Start by having writers brainstorm some annual or upcoming school events that the public is invited to attend. It could be something like a dramatic or musical performance, parent-teacher conferences, open house, a sporting exhibition or academic event. If students handed in their Exit Slip from the previous session, read through those for ideas.
- With your writers, come to a consensus about which event to make an invitation/card for.
- Demonstrate your composing process for this task by articulating your decisions on appropriate images, colors, and fonts to use for the invitation, which will be in the form of a postcard. You could, of course, ask for the students’ input during your composing process.
- Use the Postcard Creator to write a general address to “District Parents” (or any other general school-related group) and to write a short message about the event, the date, and the time.
- After you print the postcard, use magazine clippings, clip art, or other art supplies to make the front of the postcard.
- Demonstrate a reflection on the piece by showing the final invitation and articulating the elements you chose and why they are appropriate for the audience, purpose, and occasion.
Because media literacy education encompasses both analysis and expression, students need a chance to write in authentic genres to demonstrate their learning. During the final part of the lesson, writers create a greeting card for a new holiday.
- Begin by reminding students about the first day of the lesson when they wrote about a specific holiday and its elements.
- Ask students to think of an event, person, group, or activity that they think deserves a holiday. Nothing is too unimportant to celebrate.
- Have the students use the elements previously listed to create a “back story” for the holiday as well as the elements they would associate with it. Use the New Holiday Celebrations handout to help guide student thinking. Encourage students to use their imaginations to integrate characters, music, food, and other elements into their days—the more the better, because they will have more to work with once they begin to compose their greeting cards. They should again assume an audience unfamiliar with their holiday because it is new.
- Be prepared with a holiday of your own to use as an example. Use the Sample New Holiday to share with your students, or make one of your own.
- Discuss with students how their greeting cards will be assessed using the Rubric for Greeting Card Assessment. Allow time for students' questions.
- Writers should use magazine clippings, clip art, or other art supplies to create the front of their cards, and use the Postcard Creator to write a message and address on the back. If there is no computer access, use the art supplies to decorate and write on index cards that can be addressed and sent to other classmates.
- Allow time for students to work on their cards. The cards may be finished out of class, before the next session, if necessary.
- Upon completion of their work, have students share their holidays and cards with their classmates.
- Ask students to write a reflection in which they discuss their choices in composing as they did; see the Sample New Holiday handout. Students should hand in their reflections with their final cards for assessment.
- Have writers share with the class as time allows.
- Have students create invitations/greeting cards for school events that will actually be sent out.
- Once the greeting cards are displayed, students could vote for the most effective card, and the class could celebrate that event.
- Collect the cards and reflections for assessment with the rubric provided. The cards can be collected and displayed throughout the classroom after being assessed.