Issues surrounding the sensationalizing of the news and tolerance in schools can be explored in these activities. In addition, students can have fun "translating" popular children's books into teen chat language.
After completing this activity, students will be able to:
- Rewrite a children's story using chat-speak
- Research the role of the media in sensationalizing the news
- Explore issues surrounding tolerance in school
Grade Level Indicators
In meeting the lesson objectives, students will:
H. Use available technology to compose text
This activity will require at least four 45-minute class periods to complete.
- Talk 2 Me - 25 minutes
- If It Bleeds, It Leads - 90 minutes
- Tolerance - 45-90 minutes
- Children's books
- Computers with Internet access
- TV/VCR (optional)
Talk 2 Me: Chat, IM, and Text Messaging
After analyzing the chat/IM "slang" in Romiette and Julio and defining these terms, gather some popular children's books and have students rewrite the stories using chat-speak.
"If It Bleeds, It Leads"
In Romiette and Julio, the news media is an important part of the story line. Students can more deeply explore the media's role in sensationalizing the news by watching the evening news as homework. You could also tape some segments from the local news or cable news networks to show in class.
This mini-lesson on the media could be developed into a larger unit. Students could spend several weeks collecting and analyzing data.
- Ask students to analyze the way newscasts are structured, writing down the topics of each story in the order that they are presented. Have students categorize each news item using headings such as Crime, Weather, Human Interest, Politics, etc. If desired, you could have some students count the number of stories in each category while others measure the amount of time spent on each story. Have students make graphs to compare the kinds of news items, how much time is spent on each type, and where they appear in the broadcast (by 15-minute segment).
- Ask students to analyze the reporting by identifying emotionally charged words in the report and by exploring how the reporting of events affects our feelings about issues. Encourage students to pay attention to the graphics used as well. Can they find any evidence of bias in the reporting? Ask students: In cases of "breaking news" stories, is it possible that news reports are not always accurate at first? Why? Ask students to look for evidence of reporters correcting themselves, if and when this occurs.
Tolerance: Can't We All Just Get Along?
The Southern Poverty Law Center has created Tolerance.org, a web site designed to fight hate and promote tolerance. The site features current news and information for teachers and for teens. Their "Mix It Up" program is a great fit for this novel because it promotes a national Mix It Up at Lunch day, encouraging students to venture out of their comfort zones and sit somewhere new, with someone new, for lunch. Related activities and materials are available online at http://www.tolerance.org/teens/index.jsp.