Hidden Figures

One of the best movies that I saw in 2016 was Hidden Figures.

It focuses around the true story of three African-American women who changed the world. Their names were Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson. In the early years of the space program, these three women played a pivotal role in launching John Glenn into space. Without these three women, not only would John Glenn not have made it to space in the first place, he would have burned up upon reentry. These women helped to further the United States in the space race and kept John Glenn safe.

This movie is important because not only does it show three strong women, it shows three strong women of color. I would use this movie to teach intersectionality. Intersectionality is the idea that one problem can’t be addressed without talking about the others. For example, you can’t talk about women’s rights without talking about the struggle that specifically women of color go through or non-heterosexual women go through. All identities are interconnected, and that’s what I would want my students to understand. The concept of intersectionality is so integral to feminism that you can’t be a feminist without fully understanding and supporting intersectionality.

To teach this, I would have them read bell hooks Feminism is for Everybody. I would have them read this as opposed to Kimberle Crenshaw because bell hooks is more accessible and easier to digest than Crenshaw is. bell hooks still discusses the idea of intersectionality, even if she doesn’t explicitly say the term. I would still define intersectionality the way Crenshaw does, but I wouldn’t have them read her.

After reading the theory, we would watch Hidden Figures and apply the theory of intersectionality to the movie. After watching the movie, they would research another important woman of color and write a paper on whomever they chose.

This assignment is important to me because all too often students only focus on famous white men to do research on. I want them to realize that even though we don’t always see them in the headlines, women of color do amazing things and helped to shape our nation to what it is today just like the amazing women in Hidden Figures.

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Every Day

One of my favorite books of all time is Every Day by David Levithan. I love this book because the main theme of it is to love the soul not the body. The book focuses around the soul , who calls themselves A, that everyday is in the body of someone new. It’s not a ghost or a poltergeist or any type of malicious being; it’s just a disembodied soul. It sounds weird, I know, but it’s honestly beautiful. A doesn’t have a body to call their own, but they do have their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Every single day A wakes up in a new body; sometimes male, sometimes female. The body is a different size and shape and feel each time they wakes up. The soul of the person who belongs to the body gets pushed to the back of the consciousness and can still feel and think, but the narrator’s soul gets to go for a ride that day. The story focuses around the narrator, A, and the trials and tribulations of not having an identity to call ones own and constantly having to relearn a new body. Throughout the struggles of waking up somewhere new and inside someone new everyday, A falls in love with a girl, Rhiannon, that is close to one of the bodies it is inhabiting for that day. They constantly try to contact her through email and texting, they do dangerous things to try to meet up with her, and many more outrageous things. Rhiannon has a hard time with this because the face of A keeps changing, but the soul stays the same. She, herself, has to grapple with the fact that A will never be able to be in the same body forever and they may never see each other again.

This book taught me the importance of being able to love a person for who they really are on the inside and not what or how they present on the outside. I would want to use this novel in my classroom because of the powerful message that it sends.

I would use this in an 11th grade classroom because I feel as though they would be able to best understand the themes of the book but aren’t too far gone to no longer care. I would have the students read the novel, both in class and out of class. The activities I would pair with this novel would be analyzing the interactions that A has with other characters, both before Rhiannon and after. How has A evolved and changed?

I would have them write their own version of this story. I would want them to use experiences from their own lives if they struggled with their identities, and let them know that it’s okay to struggle with figuring out who you are.

The underlying idea behind this, for me, is another way to teach the idea of being transgender or gender neutral. Students have always been taught that there are only two genders, but gender is a spectrum. You can be a masculine woman or a feminine man or you can not identify with either of those because you don’t feel like you fit that mold, and that’s okay too. I would want my students to understand that just because someone presents themselves one way when you meet them, that doesn’t necessarily mean that is who they are. Getting to know the person inside the meat suit is more important than what the meat suit looks like.

I would want them to think about times in their lives where they felt out of place, or as though they were in the wrong body. What I would want from this writing is personal introspection and growth. It doesn’t have to be mountainous or astronomical growth or introspection, but even just a little would go a long way.

I would end this book by talking about the difference between who you are and what you are, pulling ideas from theorist Hanna Arendt, without actually giving them her dense as hell theory because, let’s be honest, 11th graders wouldn’t read that if you paid them too (also it’s really hard to understand, and I don’t want to torture them.)

 

You’re a Terrible Person if You’re Fat.

On Friday, I attended a play at my old high school. I took my friend from work who has been going through a hard time so that way he wasn’t alone. The play was called “Eat Your Heart Out;” when I looked it up, Google told me it was a comedy play sure to “make tears roll down your cheeks–both from laughter and heartfelt lines.”

It was awful.

But my friend was in it, so I went to support her.

Anyway, the reason for this post isn’t to complain about the low-quality play with high-quality humans. It is to talk about a serious problem that I see everywhere I go:

You’re a terrible person if you’re fat.

The first skit of the play focused around a mom, a tall thin blond woman, who stole her daughter’s Halloween candy, snuck away to a seedy motel room, and proceeded to eat her stolen treasures. Then the freaky part came: the candy came to life?? It was so weird. The Mr. GoodBar she was eating suddenly became a sentient human being who popped out from under the bed and her daughter’s favorite type of candy, M&M’s, came sauntering out from offstage. Mr. GoodBar was encouraging her to eat the candy because she was a good person and deserved it. But then the M&M spilled the beans about the candy being stolen. Then the mom said that her daughter wasn’t allowed to have candy because she’s fat. The M&M proceeded to fat shame the daughter, who was not actually a character in the scene just an unnamed target of body shaming humor.

Then it went in a heartbreaking direction:

Turns out, her daughter is a very thin little girl with a fast metabolism and can eat anything and not gain weight. The mom is the one who used to be fat. The M&M still continued to ridicule those who are overweight even after finding out that the mom struggled with her weight. They called her porker, thunder thighs, fatty, and so many other hurtful names that I, myself, have been called in the past.

The whole skit felt like it was focusing around body shaming and reinforcing the idea that there is one ideal body and if you don’t have it you’re undesirable. The skit ended with the mom putting the candy away and saying she’s going to go home to make a quinoa and squash salad.

I didn’t clap when the skit was over.

I hid my growling stomach because I hadn’t eaten since slightly before noon and it was now 730 pm.

I tried to make myself smaller.

I looked at Brad, a tall and thin man who can eat anything and not gain weight.

I felt embarrassed at my size.

For a few moments, all this hard work that I have exerted over the years to love this body I call mine went out the window. Suddenly, I was that 13 year-old girl wearing 3XL sweatshirts and baggy cargo pants to cover my thighs and stomach. I hid my insecurities behind a veil of dyed hair and too-big Twilight apparel. As I grew, I learned to love the body I was and am living in and I started wearing skinny jeans, better fitting shirts, and normal colored hair. Now, I go out wearing a medium sized t-shirt and leggings and I feel like a snack rather than like I had too many.

It took until intermission to be able to feel myself again. And even then, I wasn’t back to my full self. To eat, I got a pair of quarter sized cream puffs and two cookies; I only ate one of each because I offered the other two to Brad because I thought I would look too much like a fatty if I ate all of them.

Even now, writing this post two days later, I still don’t feel fully myself again.

The relationship I have with my body will always be an evolving tumultuous one, but I have learned to deal with the ups and downs. I adorn it with beautiful artwork so it feels like home. I put my favorite things permanently on skin to remind myself that this body is mine and mine alone. No one’s opinion of it matters except for my own. Not the writer of the play, not the man in my check-out line at work, not even my fiancée’s. My body is mine and I need to learn to appreciate it more.

 

Just Breathe

My mom recently got her first tattoos. Her first was a nature scene with the words, “Take these broken wings and learn to fly.” Her second was, “Just Breathe.” She uses it as a reminder to step back and think about things. When things get tough, just breathe and then face the problem head on.

She taught me to be strong. She taught me that no matter what happens, she will always be there for me and by my side.

This has always made me feel better, but recently it’s made me feel guilty.

I have a mom.

Two of my friends now do not.

I know it’s irrational to be guilty over this, but I can’t help it.

Just now, as I’m writing this, I got a text from her saying her new glasses are ready to be picked up, and I feel conflicted.

I feel happy that I have her to do things with and to lean on, but I feel sad because I know my friends who have lost their moms will no longer see “Mom” pop up on their phones.

My mom helped me put the sheets on my new bed and I cried because at her funeral my friend talked about her mom teaching her how to put sheets on a bed.

This post isn’t about feminism.

For that I apologize, I just needed to vent.

I just needed to breathe.

 

 

Teach Something New Everyday

Every day I wake up and I look at the Wonder Woman Funko Pop that I keep on my nightstand and think to myself, “What can I do today to make a difference?”

And honestly, that a question I ask myself so frequently but can never quite seem to come up with an answer.

My gut always goes to teach something new, but seeing as I am not actually in the classroom yet, that’s a hard goal. But I know that when I am in the classroom, that goal will be more attainable. So, for now I teach those around me something new.

Here’s the story of when I taught my fiancée, Jonathan, about toxic masculinity.

After the last mass shooting, a professor at my university, Dr. Clemens, came under attack about a tweet she made saying that toxic masculinity was killing us. She was attacked for being a “liberal snowflake” and a “man hating feminist.” And this can’t be further from the truth. She taught us in her classes that feminism isn’t about hating men, it’s about empowering women and teaching men how to respect women and themselves. Feminism doesn’t just benefit women, it benefits men too.

Toxic masculinity isn’t regular masculinity. It’s harmful and poisons our boys into thinking they always have to be the one in power and when they aren’t the ones in power, their only option to regain power is through violence. It teaches boys that to be a man you must be tough and never cry and be the least amount of feminine you can possibly be because feminine = gay and gay = the worst thing ever.

It’s a viscous ideal that is very hard to break.

Even if you don’t directly teach your sons this concept, they can learn it from their peers, from the societal pressures of social media and television and movies. This idea of toxic masculinity has permeated our everyday thoughts and media that we consume. It’s in books, movies, advertisements, everything. It harms our boys in ways that I can’t even begin to describe.

I showed Jonathan the tweet that Dr. Clemens posted and the reactions to it. He was puzzled because it seems as though those who are attacking her do not realize they are proving her point. Threatening her with violence and anger only proves the fact that toxic masculinity is behind the recent spike in hatred and violence.

I asked Jonathan if he ever felt as though he couldn’t do something or should do something because he was a man. His response was interesting.

He paused.

Then said,”Now that I think about it, yes. Growing up, I felt like i had to always be the biggest and the strongest and once others around me starting getting bigger and stronger than I was, I felt less powerful. I felt like I couldn’t express my emotions in anyway other than in a violent way, that’s why I took to playing football. It was a violent sport that I could use as an outlet to get my emotions out.”

Then he said something that struck me.

“When I was going through the [police] academy, one of the drill sergeants basically said to cut the toxic masculinity shit. He didn’t use those terms, because I don’t think he knew those terms, but that was essentially what he said. He told us that if something is bothering us that we should talk to someone and not to hold it in because as a cop, you see a lot of stuff that’s hard to handle and if you keep it bottled in it’s harmful. He said that it’s okay to cry if there’s something on the job that affects us. He told us that a lot of cops keep their emotions in and try to pretend to be tough and like seeing a dead child doesn’t affect them, when in reality it fucks them up. Looking back, now that I know that this is a thing that exists, he was telling us that toxic masculinity is harmful and is killing police officers. Your professor is spot on when she says that this is what is killing us, it might not be the only cause, but it’s definitely a huge factor.”

This conversation, essentially, made me fall more in love with him.

Anyway,

TOXIC MASCULINITY IS KILLING US.

Have a day.

Hunger Games

For the remaining posts, I have decided to stray away from creating lesson plans. I feel as though creating them made my posts stuffy and formal. That isn’t what I want from this blog. After presenting at a conference at my college and seeing the blogs of three of my friends, I decided to change the vibe of my blog because I wasn’t happy with what I was doing. So for the remainder of my posts, I will be describing my lessons in more detail rather than creating lesson plans. I want it to be more of a conversation with teaching rather than a structure.

Something that I am a firm believer in is using pop culture in the classroom. (As evidenced by the fact that I have used three other popular culture films.) I think that this is a great way to get students excited about learning and excited about the lesson you’re trying to teach.

One thing I would like to use in my future classroom would be the film The Hunger Games. I would want to use it in conjunction with the novel itself. I would use this to teach the idea of violence and femininity and how those two notions fit together.

This would be for 10th grade.

I would have them read the novel as a summer reading book. Everyone hates summer reading, I know, but it’s honestly the only way to get through longer books. I think the students would enjoy having this as a summer reading book because it’s a modern novel rather than something from the stuffy literary cannon.

On the first day of discussion one of the activities I would have the students complete a Venn diagram comparing a traditionally feminine character and the character of Katniss Everdeen. The character I would want them to compare Katniss to would be Cinderella. I would want them to compare the actions, thoughts, and wants of both characters and see what was different and why. The point of this would be to show them how female characters have developed and changed over the years and how they have stayed the same. I would then ask the class to come up with a list of traditionally feminine characters and a list of those who break the mold.

For homework they would be asked to write about their personal response to the novel and how the themes in it can relate to real life.

The next day, I would have them get into groups and take on the persona of the characters in the novel. They would have to change one thing that their character did in the novel and then theorize how that would effect the outcome of the novel. I would ask them to think about the gender of their character and how their gender would/does effect the actions of the character.

This activity would take the entire class.

Their homework would be a journal entry on why they think Suzanne Collins chose Katniss to be a female character instead of a male character.

The next day we would begin viewing the film. They would fill out a Venn diagram comparing book Katniss to movie Katniss.

No homework today.

The next day we would finish the movie and they would continue their diagram comparisons.

Their homework would be to begin their essay comparing book Katniss to film Katniss. It would be a 2-3 page essay explaining the differences in the characters and why they personally believe these changes were made. I would ask them to think about how Hollywood typically portrays women, especially women who commit violent acts.

They would have about two weeks to complete this essay. We would be workshopping their papers during class and I would do checkins with them to make sure they are fully understanding the assignment and the concepts behind it.

 

My Personal Struggle with Feminism

I haven’t always been a feminist. I’ll be the first to admit that my thoughts and opinions and beliefs weren’t always woman positive and supportive. Before my senior year of high school, I was really unfeminist. Like, REALLY unfeminist. I wasn’t actively against feminism or anything of the sort but I said things and thought things that are the complete opposite of what I believe and say now.

I used to call my fellow women sluts. I used to actively shame women who bragged about their sexual encounters. I used to victim blame. I once uttered the phrase, “Well, look what she was wearing.”

I hate myself for that. Everyday I think back to the person I used to be and the things I used to believe and say and regret all of it.

I’m proud of who I am now and the beliefs I have now. I have evolved and changed for the better.

But just because I have evolved doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle.

Rewiring a brain takes a long time. Reteaching yourself, and others, takes effort. I still find myself thinking unfeminist thoughts. When I judge what another girl is wearing, when I assume that a young woman with an older man is a gold digger, when i find myself comparing my body to another woman’s body and hating her for being closer to the ideal than I am.

When I have these thoughts I stop myself and say, “Laura, why are you thinking these things? These are unfeminist thoughts. Stop it.” I take a step back and evaluate why I’m thinking these things. The answer is because society has brainwashed me into always having these creeping thoughts.

We are taught from a young age through media that other women are out competition. We are taught to compare ourselves to each other to compete for male attention. We are taught through movies and television that no female friendship can be truly without male influence when we are bombarded with scenes that depict two friends fighting over the same guy. From a young age, girls are indoctrinated into the woman vs woman agenda.

I see it in my teaching. In my middle school placement, I witnessed an argument in the hallway between two girls who I knew were best friends. They were fighting over who would get the privilege of liking a certain boy. The one girl told the other that they weren’t friends anymore because she wanted the boy and was choosing him over their friendship. I was completely disheartened that these two girls who had been friends for years, had written poetry about their friendship, would let it all go for a boy. It was baffling.

When I talked to the one who ended the friendship, she said that having a boyfriend was more important to her than. The friendship she had with the other girl. I was so sad that she was willing to throw away her bond with her friend for a boy.

When teaching feminism in the classroom, it’s important to emphasize the struggles we all face with fitting into the patriarchy. My most recent struggle was with changing my last name when I get married next year.

The day I finally and officially decided to take my future husband’s name, a friend on Facebook shared an article that was about how unfeminist it is to take your husband’s last name in 2017. It talked about how it is an outdated traction to sjow ownership over a woman and if you change your last name you are going against what feminism stands for.

I began to second guess my choice.

I’m taking it to be subordinate to him. I’m taking it because his last name is infitely simpler than mine and, as a teacher, I thought it would be easier for students and their parents to pronounce.

I still felt like a bad feminist.

I had this guilt that if I take his last name I’m putting the movement back tenfold.

I talked to my professor and feminist goddess, Dr. Clemens. She helped me realize that my reasoning and being able to cu oose what i wanted to do was in and of itself, feminist. I’m not choosing to take his name because I feel I have to or to be his property, I’m doing it because ita easier for me. And that is a feminist decision. The fact I got to make that decision is feminist.

In teaching feminism, we not only have to teach the theory and how to apply it to texts but we have to teach our struggles, the issues with feminism, and let students know that it’s okay to have unfeminist thoughts if they are trying to be more feminist. Students have to know that everything is a process and even we are still learning.

Moana

I can tell you that the one thing that students love more than stickers on their tests is Disney movies. I, too, love myself some Disney (I have a Disney themed tattoo.) So it seems only fitting that a movie from the realm would make it onto my list of teachable movies. I chose Moana because it’s not only feminist, it’s intersectional. I am a firm believer in intersectional feminism. The feminist movement would be nothing if it only focused on white hetero ciswomen’s rights. Feminism is about choice and about being there for your sisters (not just your white cis-ters). You can’t talk about women’s rights without also talking about WOC and LGBTQ rights. Not only does it show intersectional feminism, it shows students that if you put your mind to it, you can really do anything and also save the world.

The movie Moana is about Moana (voiced by Auli’i Cravalho, a native Hawaiian ), a 16 year old living in ancient Polynesia who is constantly told that her destiny is to be the chief of her tribe. Trouble arises when the ocean calls upon her to save the environment and her tribe. Her tribes crops and surrounding fish are dying off due to an ancient curse caused by the demigod Maui (voiced by Dwayne The Rock Johnson, of Samoan descent.) Her mission is to save the island (and the world) by convincing Maui to return the heart of Te Fiti and break the curse. She reaches this goal with the help of her small-brained chicken sidekick, the spirit of her grandmother, the strength of her own courage, and a little help from Maui. She proves through her own coming of age story that if you believe in yourself you can do anything.

This movie is important because it is Disney’s first second (I forgot about “Mulan,” who eventually got married but her ultimate goal was to save China, Sheng was a bonus) POC princess whose ultimate goal wasn’t to fall in love and get married. Moana is the only modern Disney movie (that I can think of, if I’m not thinking of one please tell me) to not have a love story element besides that of her parents. She doesn’t have a love interest, she doesn’t have a boy on the island she’s fighting to get back home to, there isn’t a boy to stop her before she gets on the boat to tell her he loves her (basically she isn’t Rachel Green and she doesn’t have a Ross Gellar is what I’m getting at here.) Moana shows strength and determination while also showing support and love for her community.

The lesson I would do to accompany Moana would revolve around creative writing. The culminating assignment with the Moana lesson would be for the students to write their own “feminist fairytale.” This could take shape in many different ways: they could have a strong female protagonist that represents the same ideals as Moana does in the movie, they could write a homosexual male protagonist, they could write a transgender character, they could write about a woman who finds herself without the help of anyone but herself. They could write anything as long as it was written through the feminist/gender theory lens.


Lesson Plan

Subject English
Grade Level/Course 8th grade Language Arts
Title Creative Writing
Standards Standard – CC.1.2.9-10.F

Analyze how words and phrases shape meaning and tone in texts.

 

Objectives Students will be able to write their own version of a “feminist fairytale.”
Duration 5 50 min periods (one week)
Essential Question How can representation within a film help people find themselves?
Vocabulary Intersectionality: the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

 

I would not give them this definition, this is Miriam Webster’s definition of it the definition I would give them is this:

Intersectionality: having your personal identities overlap and recognizing that it is needed to discuss progress.

 

Materials/equipment/resources Projector, YouTube PowerPoint defining transgender, DVD player, the film Moana
Instructional Strategies and procedures The first day I will ask them to brainstorm different identities in which they associate themselves (Christian, white, black, Muslim etc) I will write them all in a big circle on the board. (5-8 mins) I will also have the word intersections written on the board. After they’re done naming their identifiers I will ask them to give me the definition of intersection. I will then tell them the definition in the terms of gender theory. I will ask them to write in their journals for 6 minutes about why talking about the overlap in identities is important and then we will share them. (10-15 mins) I will then ask them to name every Disney movie protagonist that they can think of. (5-8 mins). I will then ask them what the goal of each protagonist they named was and if any of the goals were “fall in love and get married” I will cross out the protagonist. The goal of this is to get students thinking about more than just love and affection. The point of this activity is to show students that you don’t have to focus your life around finding “the one.”

Day 2

Introduce their final project for this unit which is a creative writing essay that should be 4 pages long but no more than 5. It is supposed to be about a strong feminist character. (10 mins)

We will begin Moana

For homework, they are expected to bring a journal entry with them. The journal entry is to be able their first impressions of the movie, ideas for their essay, and their justifications

Day 3

Watch Moana

For homework they are to bring in a rough draft of their paper to workshop the next day.

Day 4

This will be a workshop day for them to meet with a peer (of my choosing) so they can get honest feedback and can conference with me.

Day 5

Workshop Day and conferences

Assessment Group discussion, creative writing, journal entries.
Assignments Their culminating assignment will be to write an essay that is approximately 4 pages in length. They are to write about a feminist protagonist.
Self assessment N/A

 

 

My Life in Pink

In my intro to women and gender studies class we watched a French film called, “My Life in Pink.” I fully expected to react to it like I did any other movie I watched for a class: interested enough to answer questions on it during discussion, but not feel the urge to do anything more with it. I was wrong. This movie was a moving look into the life of a boy who believed he was meant to be a girl. It follows the family’s trials and tribulations of coming to terms with their son’s gender preferences and identity. At first, the nuclear family is wholly against Ludo’s transitioning. He tells them that God simply forgot to send his second X chromosome and accidentally sent a Y instead. He feels that he was meant to be a girl and feels out of place and anxious trying to pass for a boy. The families in the neighborhood don’t understand Ludo’s identity either and one family bans him from being friends with their son for fear that Ludo’s identity will somehow change their son’s identity as well. Ludo gets kicked out of school and then his family is ostracized from the neighborhood and eventually move across the country. The neighborhood that they move into is much more welcoming and another child in the new neighborhood is also transgender. In the end, the family learns to accept Ludo for who he is. We don’t get to see what fully happens through his adult life or if he fully transitions to be a woman like he wants, but the movie portrays this difficult subject in a real and raw way. I think this movie would be a valuable teaching tool because, even though it’s in French and you have to read subtitles, it’s easy to understand what is going on in the film. It’s a movie that you don’t have to stop and think, “Wait, what just happened? I don’t understand the plot and now I’m lost.” It’s a movie that makes you stop and think critically about what is going on with this family and the issues at hand, not about trying to follow the plot which makes it great for teaching.

What I would want to do with this movie is show it in class first after having a brief discussion about what it means to be transgender and the myths about it. I would want to get the student’s tak e on what they already know (or think they know) about what it means to be transgender and then have a discussion about why they think those things. I would want them to tell me where in mainstream media they see transgender representation and what it means if they don’t see it. Their culminating assignment would be to do a research paper on what children who are transgender go through growing up or what transgender adults go through. They could choose to focus on a specific aspect such as family life or mental health issues, or they could do a broader research paper on all aspects of being transgender. It doesn’t have to be the negative side either, they could write about all the positive things that come with being transgender as well. If a student is transgender they could write a personal research narrative. This means they research their experiences and see if their experiences were found within the lives of other transgender people. If they know someone who is transgender, they could do an interview with that person incorporating articles and other research materials into their interview and paper. The goal of this is to get the students thinking about things that are different than what they are used to seeing. Cisgenderism and heteronormativity are so prevalent in our society that it’s hard for people, particularly students, to wrap their minds around the fact that there are people out there who don’t fit into their perfect mold. Not every person who exists is a cookie cutter human being and I believe that students need to be taught that it’s okay to not be cookie cutter.

*Note: The day before this mini-unit begins, I will send home a letter with each student to give to their parents to sign. It’s not exactly a permission slip but it will detail what we will be learning about and the material we will be viewing so parents know what is going on in class. If any parent has an issue with the content, their child will have the option to do an alternative assignment. I recognize and understand that this content isn’t an easy subject to discuss, but I firmly believe that it is important for students, and adults, to learn about.


Lesson Plan

Subject English
Grade Level/Course 11th grade Honors English
Title How Film Relates to Society Part 2
Standards Standard – CC.1.2.11-12.A

Determine and analyze the relationship between two or more central ideas of a text, including the development and interaction of the central ideas; provide an objective summary of the text

Standard – CC.1.2.11-12.B

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences and conclusions based on and related to an author’s implicit and explicit assumptions and beliefs

 

Objectives Students will be able to analyze the film “My Life in Pink” through a feminist lens keeping mental health and coming of age in mind. Students will research what it is like growing up transgender.
Duration 5 50 min periods (one week)
Essential Question How can representation within a film help people come to terms with and discover their own identities?
Vocabulary Transgender: Transgender (sometimes shortened to trans or TG) people are those whose psychological self (“gender identity”) differs from the social expectations for the physical sex they were born with. To understand this, one must understand the difference between biological sex, which is one’s body (genitals, chromosomes, ect.), and social gender, which refers to levels of masculinity and femininity. Often, society conflates sex and gender, viewing them as the same thing. But, gender and sex are not the same thing.Transgender people are those whose psychological self (“gender identity”) differs from the social expectations for the physical sex they were born with. For example, a female with a masculine gender identity or who identifies as a man.

 

Materials/equipment/resources Projector, YouTube PowerPoint defining transgender, DVD player,  the film “My Life in Pink”
Instructional Strategies and procedures The day before this mini unit begins, I will send home a letter with each student to give to their parents to sign. It’s not exactly a permission slip, but it will detail what we will be learning about and the material we will be viewing so parents know what is going on in class. If any parent has an issue with the content, their child will have the option to do an alternative assignment. I recognize that this content is not an easy subject to discuss, but I believe that it is an important one.

At the beginning of class on the first day of this unit, I will give the class a mini pretest on what they know about what it means to be transgender. That will be the only question, “What does it mean to be transgender?” I will collect their answers and ask anyone who wants to share to do so. I will also ask the class (via show of hands) if they know anyone who is transgender. (10 mins). After this, I will show a PowerPoint presentation that has the true definition of transgender (from UC Berkley’s website.) The presentation will also have pictures of well-known transgender persons in the media (Laverne Cox, Chaz Bono, Geena Rocero, Caitlyn Jenner, Jamie Clayton (“Sense8”), Lana and Lilly Wachowski, Candis Cayne, Janet Mock, Alexis Arquette). I will show a Ted Talk featuring Geena Rocero speaking about her story. (20 mins) The last 20 minutes will be split between them writing in their journals and having a discussion about what Geena talked about in her TedTalk.

Day 2

Watch “My Life in Pink”

Day 3

Watch “My Life in Pink”

They will be expected to write in their journals about their reactions to the movie.

Day 4

Discuss “My Life in Pink”

I will open this for students to ask me questions about the movie, about what it means to be transgender, anything that they don’t understand this is the time to ask it. The whole class period will be dedicated to digesting and unpacking the movie. The last ten minutes I will introduce their essay assignment.

Day 5

The first half the class they will get into groups and read different articles that I had out that have to do with being transgender (they can use these in addition to their own article findings.) Some articles are personal accounts and narratives and some will be studies. Each group will be assigned a different article. Each student within the group will be expected to be an expert on their article and then we will jigsaw and they will teach their article to a different group. They will be given the last half the class to begin their research on their topic having to do with being transgender.

Assessment Group work, research paper, journal entries.
Assignments Their culminating assignment will be to do a research paper on an aspect of being transgender.
Self assessment N/A

 

 

Wonder Woman

Over this summer, the film “Wonder Woman” came out. I was so excited to see it, I saw it twice. I can’t wait to buy it and watch it again. It was an incredibly well-done movie, both cinematography wise and content wise. Now, it’s not without it’s faults, but for the most part it is an incredible movie that has strong feminist roots and branches.

Students love to watch movies. That’s why I decided to connect several of my lesson plans to movies because it connects to their interests. Now, the movies I have chosen might not appeal to everyone but they should appeal to most.

For this lesson, I decided that I would focus on body image and the societal effects that “Wonder Woman” had in the way of female body image. The main focus of this lesson is to get students thinking about how being postively represented in a piece of mainstream media effects how one sees themselves and how society views others as well. Their goal is to find their own opinon and voice to write a blog post about their thoughts on “Wonder Woman’s” effect on body image, both personal and societal. Below is my 5 day lesson plan relating the idea of positive and negative body image to the film “Wonder Woman.”


Lesson Plan

Subject English
Grade Level/Course 11th grade Honors English
Title How Film Relates to Society
Standards Standard – CC.1.2.11-12.A

Determine and analyze the relationship between two or more central ideas of a text, including the development and interaction of the central ideas; provide an objective summary of the text

Standard – CC.1.2.11-12.B

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences and conclusions based on and related to an author’s implicit and explicit assumptions and beliefs

 

Objectives Students will be able to analyze the film “Wonder Woman” through a feminist lens. They will be able to synthesize their own opinions about what this movie does for the current feminist movement and how is affects the way people view their own bodies.
Duration 5 50 min periods (one week)
Essential Question How can representation within a film affect someone’s own view of self-worth?
Vocabulary Self-esteem/self-worth: confidence in one’s own worth and abilities

Self-image: the idea of one’s own abilities, appearance, and personality.

Body image: the subjective picture or mental image of one’s own body

Body dysmorphia: anxiety disordet that causes a person to have a distorted view of how they look and to spend a lot of time worrying about their appearance.

 

Materials/equipment/resources Projector, PowerPoint defining the key mental health terms stated above in the “vocab” section, DVD player, the film “Wonder Woman”
Instructional Strategies and procedures At the beginning of class on the first day of this unit, I will give the class a mini pretest on what they know about self-esteem and body image. The questions will range from basic recall of definitions to asking them to think intrinsically about their own self-esteem and body image. As well as typical female representation in mainstream media. These answers will be private and only shared with the whole class if the student wishes to share. (I will remind them that I will be seeing their answers so if they do not want me to know something please do not write it down.) (5 min.) After they have completed this, we will discuss what body image and self-esteem are along with the other vocabulary words. This will not be a lecture but a student led, teacher facilitated conversation. I will ask them to describe a time where they have felt properly represented in a piece of media (film, TV, video game, literature etc) and how that made them feel. (25 mins). After our discussion on body image, we will make a list on the board of every superhero they can think of. Once the list is complete I will circle the female superheroes in the list (I’m not expecting many.) (5-8 mins) I will then ask them to get out their journals and write why they think that there are so few female superheroes compared to male superheroes. (10 mins) For homework, they each have to find a female superhero or regular hero in film, TV, or literature.

Day 2

Today’s discussion will focus on representation in media of women and people of color. I will ask them to list every book, film, or TV show they can think of in their journal as a warm up. (5-8 mins). When time is up, I will ask them to name each TV show they listed that does not have a straight white man as the heroine/protagonist. (5 mins) I will ask them what affect this has on minority groups when mainstream media does not accurately represent their lifestyle and culture. (15-20 mins) They will then get into groups and discuss with each other why they believe or don’t believe that representation is important in mainstream media. They will have to debate each other within their groups and use evidence from real life and other literature to support their argument. (remainder of class). In the last few minutes of class, I will introduce the film “Wonder Woman” (2017). For homework they will have to read bell hooks “Beauty Within and Without.” They will have to write a journal entry about what their thoughts are and be prepared to cite this article in their blog post (explained later.)

Day 3

Watch “Wonder Woman”

Day 4

Watch “Wonder Woman”

Day 5

The whole class will consist of creating a list of the body positive and negative images they saw in “Wonder Woman.” The students will work in groups of 3 or 4. Half of the groups will work on negative body images and the other half will work on positive body images they viewed in the film and what affect these might have on society and individual people who are struggling with their own body image. In the last 15 minutes of class, each group will be asked to share their findings and why they chose to highlight those moments.

 

Assessment Group work, blog post, journal entries.
Assignments Their culminating assignment will be to do a research blog-post on our class blog site saying why they believe “Wonder Woman” displays a body positive or negative outlook and the affect it has on people and society. They must use examples from “Wonder Woman” and cite bell hooks and are expected to do their own outside research and use 3 additional sources.

I will be assessing them informally through class discussion, group work, and their journal entries.

Self assessment N/A