Beyond the HOTS: A Computerized Unit on Gender Rawia Hayik
Why address gender issues? • Male-dominated society • http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=O4BxGtWvsvo
Theoretical Framework Critical literacy theory
Freire (1970) encourages teachers to introduce social issues to the classroom and help students’ critical introspection into these issues. After all, “language and reality are dynamically intertwined.” As a result, children and adults learn to “read the word” through “reading the world” and vice versa (Freire, 1983, p. 5).
Luke and Freebody (2000) define literacy education broadly as not just a matter of “skill acquisition or knowledge transmission.” Rather, determining how to teach literacy should “involve a moral, political, and cultural decision about the kind of literate practices needed to enhance both peoples’ agency over their life trajectories and communities’ intellectual, cultural, and semiotic resources in multimediated economies” (p. 48-9).
The four dimensions framework of critical literacy (Lewisonet al., 2008): • Disrupting the common place • Considering multiple viewpoints • Moving from the personal to the sociopolitical • Taking action to promote social justice (p. 7-13)
Disrupting the commonplace • involves making the unconscious conscious through introspectively examining one’s beliefs and assumptions, challenging the taken-for-granted practices, developing and using language of critique (Shannon, 1995) to disrupt what is considered normal through asking different questions and interrogating the status quo, viewing the world through new lenses, problematizing reality and visualizing a different reality, and examining the social norms that popular culture communicates and how these messages position individuals/groups and shape their identities.
Considering multiple viewpoints • involves becoming cognizant of the voices of the silenced or marginalized, trying to understand experience and text from others’ viewpoints in addition to ones’ own perspective concurrently, reflecting on and making sense of multiple perspectives of a problem, juxtaposing multiple and contradictory aspects of the text/event and asking “whose voices are heard and whose are missing?” (Luke & Freebody, 1997), and scrutinizing competing narratives or writing counternarratives to dominant discourses.
Focusing on the sociopolitical • What characterizes this domain is moving beyond the personal to examine the sociopolitical systems in society. It involves raising awareness of historical practices and cultural systems of meaning; questioning the legitimacy of unequal power relations; investigating oppression, privilege, and status; and using literacy as a means to participate in the politics of daily life.
Taking action to promote social justice • Transforming the world into a better one (Freire, 1972) is achieved when students “use literacy to compose their own narratives, counternarratives, letters, essays, reports, poems, commercials, posters, plays, and webpages to promote social change, … use the arts to express critical understandings and to get messages of justice and democracy out into the world, … rewrite their identities as social activists who challenge the status quo and demand change, develop powerful voices and … speak out collectively against injustice” (Lewison et al, 2008, p. 12).
Enacting critical literacy involves going beyond the text to address socio-cultural/political issues and aim for social justice
The ICT plan on Cinderella • Grade: 6-7 • Time allotment: Three lessons
21st Century Skills • Accessing wide variety of media (YouTube) • Using ICT Tools like WORD or PowerPoint • Filling in a GoogleDocs form • Application of Higher-Order Thinking Skills
Domains • Access to information • Social interaction • Presentation • Appreciation of literature
Purpose of Activity • To raise students’ awareness to gender bias in fairy tales • To encourage them to take action for social change
Description of Activity • In the beginning of my unit, I introduce the fairy tale Cinderella to my students through the YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTDryAiIQRc&feature=fvst.
Brainstorming descriptions of Cinderella (a bubble map of Cinderella’s character). Students are invited to come to the front and type their descriptions on my laptop that is projected on the board. Kind Blonde Blue eyes Beautiful Cinderella
Second viewing • During the second watching of the clip, I stop the clip in minute 1.14 (when the step-mother viciously tells Cinderella she can’t go to the ball) and ask: How do you feel? What would you do if you were in Cinderella's place? (Students responses can be listed on the board for further discussion at the end)
After the second viewing, students are asked to sequence events according to the story in the worksheet downloaded from http://www.abcteach.com/free/c/cinderellasequencecards.pdf. • Students then watch the clip again to check their answers.
Follow-Up: • As a homework, students survey adults about how women are portrayed in fairy tales. The survey includes the following question: Tell me three words that describe any/each of these characters: Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. When they have interviewed three people each, they enter their results in a Google doc through the link https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHBTMkJodndVemtBZmRTYmxxZllHbWc6MQ • I present the results of their surveys in class the following lesson.
The bubble map and survey graph can induce to critical discussions, with the following questions possibly asked: • How are female characters portrayed here? • What is this book saying about females? Is this true about all females? If yes, why are they this way? • Who benefits from such stories being told/written like this? This may open the discussion to the fact that the disempowerment of some groups empowers others, in addition to the commercial benefits companies gain through having girls preoccupied with their appearance.
Taking action through either • rewriting the fairy tale to make it emancipatory, or • writing a letter to the author that can include questions/comments they would like to ask/tell the author. These activities can be done in groups using Word or PowerPoint to encourage students become computer-literate.
Students' Outcomes • Students rewrite the traditional fairy tale or write a letter to the author • Students become more aware of gender messages
Follow-Up • Groups present their stories or letters to the whole class
Optional Homework A word search and crossword puzzle on Cinderella downloaded from http://www.abcteach.com/free/f/fairy_cinderella.pdf
Some students’ work Dear author, We read your story "A Dreams For a Princess", it’s a nice story, and makes little girls believe that there's always a happy ending, but in the other side it makes little girl dreams to have a rich princes. We think that this isn't good, because it isn't realistic. And Cinderella depended on magic and on others , that’s not good because that teaches children to be passive. We hope that you will accept our criticism in good sports. Thank You!
Dear Melissa We read your story "a dream for a princess" and we have a few things to criticize: 1) You focused on the outside beauty of Cinderella and not on her personality which is more important. 2) We read between the lines that marriage and fortune bring happiness, which is a wrong belief. 3) You used the fairy to make it possible for Cinderella to go to the ball instead of showing Cinderella's abilities to make it on her own. 4) Cinderella was pictured as a weak woman who counts on others. 5) There was a lot of fantasy in the story instead of realistic events, and in reality there is no magic to make everything perfect. All that we mentioned above have a bad influence on children because it creates pre-conceived ideas about how girls should behave and live their lives. It's a great story actually that children liked, but they are not aware of all the bad sides of the story. We hope you consider our criticisms and make a positive change in your upcoming stories. Good luck. Luna and Reem
BIBLIOGRAPHY • Freire, P. (1983). The importance of the act of reading. Journal of Education, 165, 5-11. • Friere, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum. Translated from Portoguesse. • Lewison, M., Leland, C., and Harste, J. C. (2008). Creating critical classrooms: K-8 reading and writing with an edge. New York, New York: Taylor and Francis Group. • Luke, A. and Freedody, P. (2000). Further notes on the Four Resources Model. In Critical Literacy. NCTE Reading Innitiative.