Bizarro Blog: [title redacted]

These digressions are becoming easier, more frequent. They induce less guilt than before. I feel decreasingly less like apologizing also because I find this stuff to be increasingly classroom vital.

If I taught any sort of English class, just for instance, I’d open my unit on [literary device redacted] with this commercial, one which kind of cut me off at the knees this evening by depicting a thoroughly unique existential crisis and by rendering [literary device again] perfectly, without breaking a sweat.

Which literary device am I thinking of? Which haven’t I thought of? Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Related:

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About 
I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. More here.

14 Comments

  1. I’d end the commercial sooner, before the handshake on the bench. Letting students guess the device employed would be a good exercise. And the resulting guesses would be interesting. I hit on something related earlier – those Comcast commercials can be used in the same way.

    There’s a touch of irony to the commercial, but it’s too subtle for this video to help much with the term. I don’t think it would help students learn that concept.

    But is all this worth the time invested? I’m not sure. Maybe. I have reservations similar to what TMAO stated in response to an earlier digression and related to your initial ratio.

  2. From an Important Ratio #1 standpoint, you’ve got a commercial that lasts all of 123 seconds, one which perfectly encapsulates personification.

    Plus, the individual vignettes are funny. Plus, the poignancy of the piece — the wind as a manic-depressive — won’t be missed by some kids. Plus, you’re watching TV in class. Plus, you’re working outside the textbook. Plus plus plus …

    … IR#1 wasn’t really built for numbers this high.

  3. We can get tone out of this video, too. So personification and tone. I’m convincing myself…

    By time invested, I am assuming that you wouldn’t show a video for a single lit term. If you’re going to show one for personification (possibly the easiest of lit terms I can think of), you’d show one for others as well. Otherwise, this video becomes a gimmick for all the “Plus” reasons you listed. If, instead, this video is one in a series of videos designed to increase student understanding, all those “Plus” reasons become at least surface logic for putting them in place. To be honest, depending on what I gather up in the remaining weeks, I may start the year with this kind of thing.

    So maybe short videos for the beginning of any unit should be created or found. I just worry that it becomes a gimmick and as much vanity as needless PowerPoint.

    Then again, get a bunch of teachers on this and it would be a great resource to put together, each lit term linked to its own video/cartoon/advertisement/etc. Can you see the same application in math? I’ll keep my eyes open for you.

  4. Interesting. I disagree, though, that this in any way resembles a gimmick or useless PowerPoint, the kind I tend to shun.

    It’s like, you’re gonna have to intro it somehow, whether by reading a selection, or explaining it verbally, or something. Just because it isn’t part of an ongoing series, just because it isn’t necessarily a consistent feature (though wouldn’t that be awesome) doesn’t make it a really, really good idea.

    I mean, I’m always bringing in random clips or facts or news into my classes to make the math real, to break from routine, to show ’em you can learn even from commercials.

    Maybe I’m missing your point. I can’t understand how showing this kind of video — especially at a scant cost of two minutes — could be anything but badass.

  5. As a soon-to-be English teacher (once again), something tells me that asking the students to film their own 30sec/1min (or more) commercials that bring various literary/grammatical terms to life — and certainly diving into mash-ups of various literature we cover as well — will find its way into my classroom. I suspect, Dan, that you’ll get some credit later int the year for the inspiration. And we’ll begin talking about the Student DIY Film Fest, too. Cheers for the tip! Christian

  6. Lori Jablonski

    July 12, 2007 - 11:27 am -

    Hi Dan,

    Hat tip for the ad..before I decided to teach, I spent 10 years as a policy advocate on energy and enviro issues (wind power companies were among the folks I worked with…) and still fiddle around in the area when I have the time. This is a great, great piece that I have passed along to folks still in the mix full time…see where it landed (again, thanks to you):

    http://www.11thhouraction.com/

    As for my teaching…oh, this will indeed be used in my govt/world politics classes–I have no problem at all with terrific “gimmicks.”

    Lori

  7. My point was: what’s the pay off for having shown it? Personification is one of only a few terms that students understand pretty quickly. Do they need to see a video to understand it even better than they already do? And what’s the follow through that lives up to this video?

    The one that pops into my head is to have as good a video/ad/cartoon as this for each term, the resource I suggest at the end of my last comment and the list I’ve been gathering subconsciously over the last 3 years.

    I thought of the student film project too, Christian. In my original comment, that was a paragraph I cut out in order to focus my thoughts. It’s also one of the things I was thinking of in terms of the time invested. The more we can pack into that assignment, the more it justifies itself. It seems a bit much for students to churn that video out inside of a week, so how much time do we devote to creating that video? Let’s turn that video into a demonstration of understanding for more things and then it pays off. I’m already working on it and I think it’s a solid idea.

    Dan, don’t get me wrong. To use your words, this commercial is bad ass. Keep ’em coming because you consume more pop media than I do and you’re helping me with my list. Like I said, I’ll probably start the year with something like this.