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Tera Joy Cole

Accessing Ideologies in Popular Culture

Objective: Introduce students to the term ideologies. Discuss how beliefs and values work to shape worldview, but also work to point out that they can change over time. Help the students to gain the ability to critically analyze mixed media (in this case: print, song and cartoon). This is a lesson I used, with positive results, in English 1102.

Lesson plan:

  1. Begin with a brief discussion of the term ideology. Generate a list of words on the board that relate to American values and beliefs.
  2. Provide a handout to students which contain the lyrics to a Schoolhouse Rock’s song, “Elbow Room” by Lynn Ahrens (published 1978).
  3. Ask the students to pay attention to words or phrases in the song that connect to the list of values/beliefs we have listed on the board.
  4. After reading the song, ask the students to write for five minutes in response to the question: “How does ‘Elbow Room’ rely on or reinforce American ideology? Provide specific examples from the song to support your response.”
  5. Ask students how they responded to this question.
  6. Finally, play the video of the song which appeared on television in 1978. Discuss the difference between the written version and the cartoon (audience, time period, etc.). This would hopefully lead students to see that ideologies often change over time and/or are dependent on audience.

Building Confidence in Writing What is a confident writer?

​(Courtesy of: The Confident Writer by Carol C. Kanar)

Self­-motivated Your motivation to write may be for self-­expression, academic success, or career advancement.
Flexible You are willing to try new strategies for planning, writing, and revising an essay.
Positive You believe that writing is a skill that anyone can develop or improve
Organized You plan your essay, taking the time to choose the best details to support your point.
Persistent You seek the positive results that come with revision and editing, however long it takes.
Inquisitive You have a questioning mind and the will to keep searching for answers.
Observant You choose details that appeal to the five senses and create images in readers’ minds.
Analytical You try different ways of putting ideas together so that they make sense to your readers (you ask questions!).
Open-minded You may have an opinion on a topic, but you want readers to know all the pros and cons.
Critical thinker You think for yourself but are willing to consider opposing viewpoints.
Creative You bring a new perspective to terms or ideas that readers may take for granted.
Persuasive You have the power to influence others and broaden their views.

Writing prompt: Choose two of the traits from the previous list: one that you think you already embody and one you hadn't previously considered or that you would like to work to improve. Your task is to write two paragraphs. In the first paragraph, describe the trait you already possess and provide a concrete example of how this trait helps you to be a confident writer. In the second paragraph, describe the the trait that is new to you or that you would like to improve and provide a concrete example of something you can start doing today to build this skill. This will be turned into your teacher for evaluation!

Human Rights in Literature

Objective: To demonstrate to students the power that writing has to express the human condition.

Lesson plan:

  1. Begin with a brief (10 minutes) introduction to Anne Frank which will provide context for the lesson. If technology is available in the classroom, students will be shown pictures of Anne Frank and her family as well as pictures of the annex that the Franks took refuge in from the Nazis.
  2. Next, a handout will be distributed that has specific quotes from Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. Some of the quotations will be used to point out the normalcy and tedium of Frank’s life in the annex. While others will be used to demonstrate Frank’s ability to use her situation as a means of becoming the best and strongest human she could become.
  3. Students will then be asked to write for about five minutes in response to the question, “Can you relate to Anne Frank? Why or why not? In what way do these quotes from her diary help us to better understand an historical event? Does it differ from learning about the Holocaust through a history textbook? Why or why not?”
  4. Finally, we will discuss our reaction to the writing prompt.

State Standards

These presentations meet the following state education standards for high school students:

Media Arts

Anchor Standard 8: Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.

MA:Re8.1.III Analyze the intent, meanings and impacts of diverse media artworks, considering complex factors of context and bias.


Anchor Standard 9: Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work.

MA:Re9.1.HS.III Independently develop rigorous evaluations of, and strategically seek feedback for media artworks and production processes, considering complex goals and factors.


English Language Arts/Literacy

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

RH.11-12.8 Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.


Text Types and Purposes

W.11-12.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

W.11-12.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.


Production and Distribution of Writing

W.11-12.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Information and Communication Technology

Standard 3: Knowledge Constructor

ICT.9-12.3.a Students plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits.

ICT.9-12.3.b Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data or other resources.


Social Studies

American Government: Civics and Government

9-12.G.4.3.3 Identify the ways in which citizens can participate in the political process at the local, state, and national level.