The following activities can be used in conjunction with specific media examples on this website or more generally used to elicit class discussion and critical thinking. It may be useful to review the section that overviews key concepts tied to identity and consider how we understand our identities and the ways our identities are shaped by media.
Many of these exercises can be adapted for one-time use or extended for use over the course of a unit or series of units. Feel free to transform and manipulate them to fit your lesson plans.
As a reflection exercise, ask students to consider what makes up their identity and which facets of their identity are most important to them (sex, race, ethnicity, age, socio-economic class, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, etc.). Then ask students to think about how their identity has potentially been shaped by the media. Have each student bring in or identify a piece of media that has personally impacted them. This could be done periodically throughout a unit or semester, as homework or a blog. For discussion:
Give each student a specfic identity featured on this website (see "topics" on the right hand side of this page). Be as specific as possible. Show one of the media clips to the class and have students respond "in character" to what they've seen.
Pick one of the identity categories on this site. Using Peggy McIntosh's list from her essay "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" as a model, make a list of first person statements or value judements. As you read each statement, instruct students to go to one side of the room if they agree and the other side if they disagree. For discussion:
Have students re-view a TV show they regularly watch or view some of the media examples on this site and list all the stereotypes they see. This could also be designed as a multi-day journal assignment that encompasses all media viewed outside of school. For discussion:
Use this site to re-combine video from ads directed at boys with audio from ads directed at girls (and vice versa) to create provocative fair use mash-ups. Alternately, make your own mashup of media targeted at two different groups. A list of free software, tools and resources for making remix videos can be found here. For discussion:
Transcribe the action and dialogue from a scene in your favorite movie. Rewrite the scene by changing the gender, race, class or sexual orientation of the protagnoist. Perform the scene in class and compare it to the original. For discussion:
Students will cast a fictious film or television show. Give the students a series of photographs of individuals of different races, ethnicities, ages, both male and female. All are in the running for the following roles: the protagnoist (singer/songwriter), the protagonist's father, the father's boss, the janitor at the father's company, the family's live-in housekeeper, the protagnoist's love interest, the protagonist's neighbor/friend. For discussion:
Choose an identity featured on this website (see "topics" listed on the right hand side of this page). Discuss and view some of the stereotypical representaitons of the chosen group. Partner with other students to make a short film or the first in a webisode series that represents a marginalized group in a non-stereotypical way. After completing and screening the project to classmates, discuss the following:
Ask students to research film and television productions with non-white figures in top creative positions (director, writer, producer). Discuss whether or not the race, gender, sexual orientation of person behind the camera influences what happens in front of the camera. For discussion:
Create a story about some aspect of identity (e.g. gender, race, class, sexuality) in the context of your school or neighborhood. Use video, audio, still photos, or other digital media. You may interview people or narrate someone else's story or tell your own story.
Identify a problem related to an issue you've explored on The Critical Media Project. Create a PSA (Public Service Announcement) that addresses the issue and advocates for awareness or a particular solution.
Get inspired by this Tumblr site to edit your favorite films or TV shows and highlight the lack of diversity around race, class, gender or sexuality. Modified assignment: watch and account for the minutes of dialogue and screen time for different types of characters. For discussion:
Identify some media artifacts (still, video, or sound) that would benefit from some critical thinking and analysis. Follow the format on this website: