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© Gail Underwood Parker

Monday, April 2, 2012

School Bell: TV Teaching pt 4: Settings

[I missed last Monday's School Bell because of unexpected family stuff so here is the 4th part of Teaching with Television. Sorry for the delay!]

For middle school or high school students today's "book reports" are more than just about plot and main characters. My former students would often struggle with how to describe the setting of a story or a scene.  This is yet another area that becomes clearer when you use a television or movie story to parallel written/read literature.  Sit with your child and watch one of their favorite dramas or comedies. In the ads talk with your child about three aspects of setting:

This is usually the easiest so a good place to start. Where does the story takes place?.... city, country, small town, suburb, United States or other country.

Does the story take place in today's time, the future or the past?

Economic Setting:
Go beyond location to atmosphere. Is it a wealthy region, area of poverty, middle class, privileged or struggling?

The key step is to help your child learn to recognize and look for the clues.

Help your children notice:
 What are the "toys" included in the scene?  Computers, cell phones?.. You can often date an episode by the size of the computer or cell phone, not to mention whether kids are listening to ipods, boom boxes, television, radio, etc. Do the posters in a bedroom feature current pop stars/sports icons, or those from the past?  What do the household appliances and tools look like?
Are the kids rolling hoops and playing jacks, listening to an old radio or watching television, playing sports, riding bikes, or dueling video games?
 How are the grownups dressed? All suits and dresses or jeans and casual? What length are the skirts? Are the guys wearing ties? Are kids dressed the same as adults or differently?
Life Roles: 
Are all the moms stay at home?  What types of work do the women do? Do the men commute to work or walk? What kind of cars are seen? ARE cars around or is transportation something other than cars...older or future?

In two weeks: The final step... the "What if.."s

[This is the 4th installment of tips for using TV to teach.  If you missed the earlier posts, check out Feb 6th and 20th and March 8th.]

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