Viewing, Reading, Listening,
Note Taking and Writing Skills
can be enhanced by using mass media and the resources of Newsday.
N.I.E.  Multimedia Program will post a lesson
every Tuesday designed to improve E.L.A. skills.
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Lesson Home
Lesson #10In-service Course
Ben Amato | Newfield High School
Teachers naturally divide their course up into units. Unusually each one of these is organized around a central concept, skill or topic. This week's
lesson will direct you on an Internet Search for material that is THEMATICALLY CONNECTED.
In previous lessons, you've been asked to search for material based upon an event, issue or topic. This week I want to broaden your search, by
asking you to find material that will support a THEME. The key to this lesson is the DEFINITION of THEME.

Most curriculums are grounded in skills and content. Specific books should be read, skills honed and abilities practiced. Most teachers then organize
their lessons around particular textbooks and resource materials. Major TOPICS are covered. Important ISSUES are presented but it is seldom that
THEMES are directly taught. A THEME is a person's FEELING about a topic. It is their OPINION on an issue and few of us feel comfortable teaching
their students HOW THEY SHOULD FEEL.

Yet we might be doing that already, by our choice as to WHAT to teach them. The material we bring into the classroom carries with it an implied
THEME. How could a story about DRUNK DRIVING fail to bring home the message that it is a waste of life. Can a story about a random murder not
have a THEME that killing is wrong? By selecting the TOPIC of the material that makes up the class assignment, we are "persuading" our student to
adopt a particular view on that issue. We are telling them WHAT TO THINK.

I call this STACKING THE DECK. And that is what you will learn this week. I want you to STACK THE DECK with resources from the Internet, that by
reading them, watching them and listening to them, students will "feel" a certain way about that topic. You choose the topic but select material that will
'lead" the viewer to specific conclusions, convictions and opinions.

Imagine a lesson centered on POLLUTION. Your personal feeling might be that it is the fault of large corporations, especially oil companies that are
the major offenders. You would search the Internet and find several articles on massive oil spills. You might download photographs of ruined bays,
beaches ad harbors. You might find a video showing flocks of dying birds and other wildlife. After being exposed to these specific pieces, the students
will dislike and not trust oil companies, exactly the way you intended them to.

The point of this STACKING THE DECK lesson is not to teach you to BRAINWASH your students with multimedia. It is to show you HOW EASY it is to
do it. And to get you to wonder if maybe that is what the television, newspaper and radio industry is actually doing to all of us.

Move on to the assignment page and email me the results of your Internet travels.