Archive for the ‘Notes’ Category



Each week will be broken into solo work, conferencing, and optional collaborative workshops.  Students are responsible for the careful structuring of their time; outside of the individual conferences, there are no checks on the use of resources.  Computers will be available during every period.  See the calendar at the bottom of this post for more information.

THE PROMPT: Acting as an instructor, design a ten-day unit of study for use in a high school Media Studies course.  Assume that you have two weeks, with one weekend after Day #5, and that the final assessment is due on Day #10.

You must include the following in your unit of study:

  1. Essential Questions: The backbone of the unit.  Use the guide available here: EQ Guide 2.0.
  2. Background and Introduction: Your approach on Day #1.  How will you introduce the unit to students?
  3. Central Texts: Essays, videos, interactive media, etc.—the pieces you will read and study in and out of class.  You must annotate and otherwise prepare these texts for the students.
  4. Individual and Group Activities: Work completed in class.  Usually built around the central texts.  If these activities will result in student products—writing especially—create an answer key.
  5. Homework: Assigned as preparation for the next day or extension of the current lesson: You must create answer keys or rubrics for all homework assignments.
  6. Adversarial Questions: Can be given in class or online.  Can be open-ended or highly specific.  You must create an answer key for your adversarial.
  7. Final Writing Assessment: Culmination of the unit.  Can combine analysis and creativity.  You must create your own response to this final prompt that can be used as a model.

The final exam is due in class and to Turnitin before the last day of school, or June 13  All materials must be submitted online before 7:50am; all hard copies must be handed in before the end of that day.  In addition, you must submit:

  • A Reflection: Analyze your process.  Reflect on the final product itself.  Evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses.  This is also due online on June 13 by 7:50 am, and must be typed according to MLA guidelines.



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Note: The term idiot box is almost as old as television itself, dating back to the 1960s. Not everyone takes an academically positive view of a show like Laguna Beach, after all.

Clicking the image below will load a PDF with your adversarial scores, which were tabulated after giving you an extra three days or so to augment your discussions online.  I’ve included the total amount earned through augmentation here; if you squint, you might make out a kind of pattern.

Your scores for the projects themselves will be given out in class on Friday the 6th.  You will also receive exhaustive guides for the DAMAGES+ rubric used, if you require clarification beyond the typed feedback.  Take the time to read this carefully.

When you return to your review of Inception, use your practice run, if you completed it on time, to help you revise and reflect.  You should also revisit the many model texts we studied over a month or so.  This is the last paper many of you will write in this course, and you should take some pride in it.

And that brings up two issues: you as a student and the end of your school year.


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All right. Let’s see what more than a month of preparation yields.  Here is the schedule for the week of April 25:

MON 4/25 TV projects: Seinfeld
TUE 4/26 TV projects: Friends, Entourage, and The Daily Show
WED 4/27 TV projects: Laguna Beach and The Bachelor
THU 4/28 Field Trip (P1-P4) | Film criticism: Inception
FRI 4/29 TV projects: Summer Heights High

On Monday, the class will be structured around the Seinfeld presentation. The group will have 10-15 minutes to organize itself and set up shop; in the meantime, you’ll receive your Jasper Morello reviews back and have a bit of time to begin reading the feedback.  Those of you who have elected to write essays for the TV project must submit them at this time.  Two other notes of importance:

  1. Everyone must check in their completed projects on Monday, regardless of any presentation date, and even if you make further changes to your work during the week.  Fair is fair.
  2. All written work, including PowerPoint slides and presentation outlines, must be submitted to Turnitin by midnight on the 25th.  This will check originality and digitally archive your work; without a Turnitin submission, your project will not be scored.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we’ll split the class period between the two groups that have been selected to present.  Three students will join forces to discuss Friends and Entourage on Tuesday.  After that, we’ll see The Daily Show, Laguna Beach, and The Bachelor.  Friday is a PLC; the final group, having asked for 30 minutes or so to introduce and discuss Summer Heights High, will present last.


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Whether we like it or not, Media Studies has entered the final countdown.  65% of you will leave to pursue your SEE projects on May 13th (appropriately, a Friday), and the rest of you will endure less than a month after that before the end of things.  I want us to end well—no bangs and no whimpers—and that will take a concerted effort on your part.

The most recent adversarial grades, covering our attempts to generate a DAMAGES framework for film criticism, have been entered directly into the gradebook.  Your score reflects the number of points you earned:

  • 24-36: A (90-100)
  • 12-21: B (80-89)
  • 0-9: C (70-79)

The relative lack of points underscores the necessity of augmentation.  You must seize the opportunities provided to improve your grade, and as the year ends, those opportunities may very well determine your final average.

What follows is an overview of how the TV projects will be adversarially discussed, collected, and scored from April 25th through April 29th.


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Note: This post will become an adversarial prompt after a few days of discussion in class.  Watch the assignment tabs at the right of the page for more.

We’ll begin our look at movies with lists, primarily those provided by the American Film Institute.  For each list, you will work in small groups to answer a series of questions designed to connect your knowledge and experience with the experience and knowledge of experts.

First, the top ten from the AFI’s list of the 100 greatest movies of all time:

9 VERTIGO 1958

The movies were chosen according to these criteria:

  • Feature length: Narrative format typically over 60 minutes long
  • American film: English language, with significant creative and/or financial production from the United States
  • Critical Recognition: Formal commendation in print, television, and digital media
  • Major Award Winner: Recognition from competitive events including awards from peer groups, critics, guilds, and major film festivals
  • Popularity Over Time: Includes success at the box office, television and cable airings, and DVD/VHS sales and rentals
  • Historical Significance: A film’s mark on the history of the moving image through visionary narrative devices, technical innovation or other groundbreaking achievements
  • Cultural Impact: A film’s mark on American society in matters of style and substance

For this first list, you have four tasks, which are outlined below.


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Copyright Bill Waterson.

It would be easy to lose ourselves in a study of television, a medium that lends itself to a complex discussion of the creator/audience dynamic as easily as to jeremiads about our national health.  What I’d like to suggest is a more focused kind of lost, if we can use a paradox: delving into a favorite program to find new meaning.  You will choose a program (perhaps a set of programs) and set off to explore, offering in the end a serious analysis, interpretation, and evaluation of what you have found.  And I am encouraging collaboration on this one; you are welcome to work alone, but it may require earnest collaboration to deal with the sheer volume of data you are mining.

First, let me confuse things a bit.  I am going to give you two documents that have been given to every iteration of this class, but you are not required to use either.  You will be given no due dates to fill in the blanks below, nor will you be graded on the formative process.  There will be a formative process, but the final product is what matters—just like the final product produced through this last post mattered.  You (and hopefully a partner or two) will conceive, create, and refine a paper that answers each requirement outlined here, but how you arrive at those answers is up to you:


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James Jean, "Maze" (2008)

Freud defines the id as the primal and animalistic engine of desire at our cores, and quite a few jokes could be made here about what that means on the Internet.  For now, consider that the id is there first, according to this theory; the ego and super-ego develop later, and only through the interaction of the three do we obtain an identity.

You could, of course, list many different kinds of identities:  drivers’ licenses, passports, fake ones, secret ones, even proposed Internet ones (appropriately enough).  But in the end, there must be a core identity—an answer to the question, “Who are you?” that is indelible and true.  You might identify with a particular group, for instance, but that doesn’t mean you fit its stereotype.  You might be obsessed with a book or movie or TV show, but that doesn’t necessarily define you.  If you were given only five minutes, how would you answer that question?  Who are you?


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