Journaling has earned a bad reputation in the education world recently. In order to make journaling successful, you must first determine what it is your students will be able to do as a result of journaling for a definite number of minutes each week or month. As the goal of this unit to for students to be able to make clear arguments in writing, it is important that journaling is mostly supportive of argumentative, formerly "persuasive," writing.
Whatever I do, I supply students with models and rubrics. We judge the models using the rubrics together. Students invariably enjoy playing the teacher and are rather critical of these models. Therefore, in this unit, students will have two different journal types: The first is a reflection journal in which they express initial reactions to images, what they notice, what they have questions about, and any other initial thoughts. The second type of journal will be the Argumentative Journal. In this journal, students will formulate arguments (hence the title) about the meanings of the images. They will use their notes from the Reflection Journals to write these ones. A rubric for these journals could look like this:
Using Images to Teach Content and Skills
There are several overall strategies that are useful when working with images. One, students should have photocopies of all images on which they can write. Further organization would include a student's portfolio of images to which they can continue to refer. Second, ideally there should be poster–sized versions of the images posted in the room. These could be surrounded with the responses that students gave. Part of improving education for black boys is recognition for a job well done. Another strategies for working with images is to allow students to choose their own images to study.
Allowing students to choose their own images to study is important. This, in education, is called "meaningful choice." Therefore, after you have analyzed several contemporary images with students, bring them to a computer lab to have them find contemporary images of their own to analyze. Set parameters such as "Appropriate for School."
Next, use what is known as guided practice, then independent practice. This is also known as "I do, We do, You do." Ask for students to volunteer their image to be analyzed as a class. Afterward, set students free to analyze their own. Ask volunteers to share their analysis with the class. The emphasis on having students share their work comes from the need for underperforming students to improve their discussion skills. They need something productive to say in class.
Every group has different values. Teenagers have likely not thought of values explicitly and this unit gives students a great place to see what they value and whether or not they like that. To begin to teach values, start with the historical images. I cannot stress enough the importance of not putting your own values on your students. This will make students reluctant to share or criticize their own, which are possibly very different from yours. Teacherly values, like "hard work" and "determination" are acceptable, and students will likely see these in you.
To begin, give students a list of values. A starter list of values include: Accomplishment, Beauty, Being the Best, Camaraderie, Celebrity, Community, Confidence, Control, Faith, Family, Freedom, Honesty, Independence, Respect, Responsibility, Strength, and Trust. (Be sure to choose words that your students can understand, as this is a lesson in values, not vocabulary.) If possible, list the values on the left of a page, then create four columns of checkboxes to the right. Title headers to these columns,
Important to Me, Important to my family, Important to my school, Important to my friends
. Always start with the students. At the bottom of your page, ask students to write a paragraph explaining one of their choices. Ask volunteers to read their responses.
To apply their knowledge of what a value is, choose a historical image that students have responded to strongly. Give each student a photocopy of the image. Then, explicitly define "value" for students. Then, give students the one page list of values from the initial exercise without the columns of checkboxes. There should be a full page of values for them to look at. Students know many words that will help them to describe values, but I find it immensely helpful to give students a list and allow them to argue which ones apply to a text or image. Now, have students circle which values are obvious in the image and how they know. Have students label the image.