The Links Project (Arts & Entertainment Network Teaching Tool)
THE LINKS PROJECT
As the seemingly incomprehensible and meaningless set of symbols above indicates, much of the work we do in our busy lives involves piecing together disparate pieces of information to formulate answers to questions that arise. We do this by examining and assimilating the clues we find, then through a process of sifting and evaluation, match the pieces of information through commonalities, linkages and familiarities that establish our frame of reference. It is both a cerebral and physical process, this business of solving problems and puzzles. At times, the links relating to the start point appear to multiply endlessly and you think it is hopeless, until suddenly, the solution appears. We puzzle our way through life, sometimes finding answers, more often perhaps, stymied in the pursuit.
As more and more of us are discovering, one of the intriguing and seductive aspects of the Internet is simply that: the excitement and anticipation of following the myriad links, paths, connections, not knowing what they offer or where they will lead. Not knowing fuels and piques the desire to further and deepen the search into the unknown. This teaching unit, in turn, is about taking seemingly disjointed or even, out of synch themes and finding their areas of commonality, linking them together coherently and realizing something useful throughout the process.
To accomplish this, we have incorporated material produced by four teachers who are the winners of the A&E Teacher Grant Competition. This competition involves the integration of A&E programming into a detailed, comprehensive classroom based project. The winners for the 1996 competition are:
Grand prize winner, David Schroeder of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate in Winnipeg who based his project on The Face of Tutankhamun. The project involved simulating an archaeological dig in the school's long jump pit.
First prize winner, Philippe Gregoire and Penny Bland of Fairview Elementary School in Maple Ridge, BC, who based their project on the program, You Can Do Anything: Reaching Your Dreams. This entailed a series of bilingual, Stay in School activities that included hosting a Career Fest, writing and producing a video, taking their show on the road to other schools and participating in a letter writing project with students in St. Bruno, PQ.
Second prize winner, Genny Weerdenburg of Valley Way School in Niagara Falls, who based her project on an episode of Biography that looked at the life of Agatha Christie. Ms. Weerdenburg developed a thematic unit that used a mystery theme to explore the curriculum areas of math/science, language arts, social studies and the arts.
Third prize winner, Linda Bennett ande Kay Jones of Porter Creek Junior Secondary School in Whitehorse, who based their project on The Klondike Gold Rush. Their class focused Yukon and the economic factors leading to the discovery of gold. Students also wrote and performed a radio play.
All of the prize winners are to be congratulated for their innovative efforts and creativity in developing new materials and projects for the purpose of stimulating their students' interest in learning. We know there are many teachers engaged in like pursuits who may be too busy to promote their own efforts. Nonetheless, we do wish to hear from you.
In this teaching unit, we will take these disparate themes: Ancient Egypt, Stay in School (Careers), Mysteries and the Klondike Gold Rush, and attempt to find their areas of commonality and link them together in a meaningful way.
GENERAL LEARNING OUTCOMES
1 Explore different themes and find their areas of commonality
2 Understand the importance of research for school and the world of work
3 Gain experience and skill in problem - solving
4 Work together in teams to meet challenges and find solutions
5 Understand the importance of good communications and requisite skills
This teaching unit is appropriate for the following curriculum areas: History, Geography, Media Studies, Social Studies, Language Arts, and Technology. It is recommended for the following grade levels: Grade 4+.
Initiate a discussion in class about the above themes (Ancient Egypt, Stay in School, Mysteries and the Klondike Gold Rush) and determine whether, without prompting, students can find any similarities or common ideas between them. If you or they get stuck, you may wish to introduce the notions of History and different types of careers or jobs and see where that takes you. You may also consider starting with a brief oral or written synopsis of each of the themes to give students a basis for beginning. As everyone knows, classroom teachers are experts in everything and should have no difficulty expounding extemporaneously about any or all subjects. Kidding aside, however, students may then work individually or in groups to come up with some suggestions and present them to the rest of the class. Make a list on the board. The responses from students may then help you determine the direction you will take.
Have your students unscramble the following:
1. TAAAGH RSIIETHC
3. STERMYY TRIWRE
5. TARGE DIMRAPY
Now take the bolded letters above and form the following phrase:
One significant area of commonality among the themes is history. Everything has an historical context. Have students complete at least two of the following:
1 What are the roots of archaeology? How did it begin? Why were people interested in ancient civilizations?
2 Imagine life in the Nile Valley circa 1500 B.C. Imagine that you were a member of a household during that time. Describe your life in as much detail as possible. How did you spend your day? What was your role in the culture and what were your responsibilities?
3 Same as above except the time is 400 A.D. and the location is Mexico and you are a product of Mayan culture.
4 Trace the history of humankind's relationship with and regard for gold from ancient times until the present day. Why is gold so captivating? Why has the discovery of gold stirred such a frenzy? What is the impact of such a discovery on the local community? What about the impact on the national economy? How significant a find was the Klondike gold strike? Was it greater than the California gold rush? The Alaska gold rush? The deposits found in South Africa?
Have students write a short essay on one of the following subjects:
a. What did Edgar Allan Poe and Agatha Christie have in common? Is it fair to say that Poe influenced Christie. If so, in what way? What other writers did Poe influence?
b. What do Samuel Morse and Alexander Graham Bell have in common? Is it possible to determine whose achievements were the more significant? Justify your answer with solid reasons.
c. What role did the RCMP play in Canada's north? On what British police force were they based? What is the role of the RCMP today?
d. This century there have been two global conflicts. If it is accurate to say that the First World War set the tone and conditions for the Second World War, how would you explain this statement? What were the factors involved? How were the two wars linked?
Students will complete at least two of the following:
1 How is archaeology similar to mystery writing? What processes do mystery writers and archaeologists go through to complete their work? Write a short essay.
2 Name two other mystery writers (other than Agatha Christie) and describe their lives and careers? What was important about their writing? What do you like and/or dislike about the stories they wrote. Write a brief synopsis of one of their stories or books.
3 How many careers relate to gold mining? (Miner, prospector, geologist are the obvious ones) What about careers that are linked to mining but don't involve it directly, such as, construction, heavy equipment, policing, administration, marketing and any other support services (catering?) that may be required. Once you've come up with a list, choose three of these careers and research the necessary educational requirements, skills and experience necessary to gain employment in the careers selected. Write a detailed report on your findings.
4 Similar to above, what are the requirements and qualifications necessary to become an archaeologist or anthropologist? Where do you study? What are the practical requirements? How do you acquire the proper accreditation? Afterward, where are the career openings?
5 What similarities, if any, are there between the detectives you read about in mystery stories and members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police? Choose one fictional detective and write a report on the comparison. What are the differences in the requirements for these careers? Are there any famous RCMP officers? What made them famous? Write an account of the individual's exploits as if you were a newspaper journalist covering their story.
So much of what we see and hear is filtered through the media. We know its influence is pervasive and shapes many of our perceptions. This teaching unit, is based in part, on projects that used the medium of television to develop classroom - based projects. It is useful, therefore, to determine its influence, if any, on the topics covered in this teaching unit.
There have been many studies examining the impact of television, for example, on behavioural patterns attributed to youth. And television, video and video game use is of concern to educators and parents among others. At the same time, it's important to solicit feedback from youth about their perceptions concerning media and also, their ideas relating to media usage on their part and that of others. It is also important to explore the educational context and use of media to determine how it may enhance teaching and learning in the classroom.
In the Brainstorm section of this teaching unit, media undoubtedly came up in the discussion. If so, perhaps it's time to revisit that part of the dialogue with your students. For example, when the television series, "LA Law" was on air several years ago and enjoyed high audience ratings, articles were published in the press that enrollment in the nation's law schools had increased, establishing a link between student admissions and the popularity of television. If students had been asked some thirty years ago whether they were interested in becoming an archaeologist and what were their perceptions of that career choice, the results would likely be very different from today. The difference in preference may be attributed to the enormously successful Raiders of the Lost Ark series of films and the television series spin - off, The Indiana Jones Chronicles. Thirty years ago, archaeologists may not have been perceived as dashing rogues and adventurers as portrayed by Harrison Ford who played Indiana Jones in the films. And whether this portrayal is accurate or not, the level of interest in archaeology among youth may be significantly higher as a result. In popular entertainment forms, the rigours of the profession (any profession) in terms of academic qualifications, experience, skills, research, technical capabilities and so on, are often glossed over. Yet there are those who may not have considered a given career path if they hadn't been exposed to popular television shows or films. In that way, such media forms can be construed as delivering a benefit. Youth and younger children, may be influenced by what they view in popular and entertaining media forms like film or video.
Students will complete at least two of the following:
1 The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have licensed the rights to their image to the Disney corporation. Begin with a class discussion about this event and whether or not it was an appropriate thing to do. How might "The Mountie" image be used, i.e., to sell merchandise, dolls, logos, etc? What does this say about Canada and Canadians? Why do students think the RCMP contracted with Disney to do this? Is it even appropriatefor a law enforcement agency to engage in any commercial enterprise? You may set up a class debate with both the pro and con teams engaging in this discussion. You may appoint a panel or the rest of the class may judge who won the debate.
a. The RCMP should have licensed their image to a Canadian company.
b. The RCMP should not be allowed to license their image at all.
c. Engaging in commercial activities tarnishes the image of the RCMP.
2 Staying with the RCMP, there is a television series that has been on air recently, called, Due South. In that show, the two main characters are police officers, one is an American and the other a Canadian who happens to be a member of the RCMP. How are the two characters portrayed in that show? Do the portrayals contribute to established stereotypes? If so, why or why not? What about physical appearance? Do the actors themselves conform to a preconceived image or notion? Does it make a difference that the show is produced by a Canadian company in Canada? If the show were produced in the U.S. by an American company, what differences in characterization might there be? Write an analysis of the show, concentrating on the two main characters and what they say about their respective countries and cultures.
3 The discovery and subsequent opening of the tomb of King Tutankhamun by archaeologist and explorer, Howard Carter in 1922, sparked a media sensation of its day. Imagine that a similar event were to occur today. Describe the role of the media in covering this event. What sort of coverage would it generate? How would a latter day Howard Carter respond to all of this attention? What spin - off events might it generate? As a viewer, listener or reader, how might you respond to this coverage? How might it affect you and your attitudes toward archaeology and archaeologists?
4 Why are mysteries so popular? From classic stories written by Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler to the more contemporary stories by Ruth Rendell, P.D. James, Elmore Leonard, Walter Mosley, Tony Hillerman and Sue Grafton among many others. How have mysteries been popularized? Choose the media form you think made the greatest contribution to promoting the mystery story. Describe why you think it had such an effect and use actual examples, books (Red Harvest, Who Shot Roger Ackroyd, The Hounds of the Baskervilles, Get Shorty etc.), films (The Maltese Falcon, The Usual Suspects, Chinatown, Mulholland Falls), television (Columbo, Murder She Wrote, Prime Suspect, Kojak, X Files) to illustrate and prove your thesis.
WRITERS AND WRITING
No matter the medium, the popularity of a particular genre rises or falls on the quality of the writing. There is no lack of talent in any popular genre or medium. Have students complete at least one of the following:
1 Adventures in Canada's North have long inspired writers and artists. There are, for example, the stories of Jack London and Farley Mowat and the poems of Robert Service. Take a story like Call of the Wild or Never Cry Wolf or a poem such as, The Shooting of Dan McGrew and explore the Arctic imagery. What role does the North play? Would the story or poem have worked if it had been set in the Tropics? If not, why not? What other stories are there? How would one of the above have differed if written from the perspective of an Inuit? Justify your explanation with a brief essay.
2 Speaking of links, Agatha Christie wrote a story in 1937 called Death on the Nile. In this story, the crime of murder is solved by the famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. Take the character of Poirot or another of your choosing and write a story surrounding the mysterious death of King Tutankhamun in 1323 B.C. King Tut ruled for a mere 10 years and died at age 18 approximately. It was rumoured that he may have died by violence or been poisoned. Solve the mystery of King Tut's death.
3 In 1870, Charles Dickens wrote The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a detective mystery that was left unsolved as the story was never completed. Concoct an ending to this classic novel.
4 Take an existing mystery story and change the ending. You might use a story like, Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett or any other story and writer of your choice. Write a brief synopsis of the story line and then add on the ending of your choice. Justify your ending and why you chose it.
5 Are there differences between Canadian and American mystery authors with regard to the style of writing, the types of plots concocted and the nature of their characters? How would a Canadian detective such as Benny Cooperman as created by writer, Howard Engel compare to a Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe or a more contemporary character like Louisiana - based detective, Dave Robicheaux, as created by author James Lee Burke? Or how would the character of Toronto - based police inspector, Charlie Salter, compare to that of the characters created by American novelist Ed McBain or Robert B. Parker's detective hero, Spenser? Choose an American character and/or author and contrast and compare to that of a Canadian.
More and more schools and students have access to the Internet. More teachers and students are posting projects on the Web, taking advantage of its interactive capabilities working with other classes and schools across the country. Have students choose one of the following interactive activities:
1 The Klondike Gold Scavenger Hunt. Find the gold on the Web. Clues may be gathered by answering questions that relate to Canada's North and the Klondike Gold Rush. Points are awarded too for getting the correct answers to the questions. In a "Carmen Sandiego" kind of way, teams must go to various locations to find out more information about the gold and where it's hidden. Teams within the same class can be pitted against each other or teams from other schools may participate interactively in the scavenger hunt. You may choose to develop your own Web site for this or collaborate with other schools and organizations to do the same.
2 Create your own interactive mystery. Student teams will develop their own mystery plot that involves developing clues that lead to the resolution of the mystery. The mystery, in question, might follow the plot line of a conventional "whodunnit". The story with accompanying graphics may then be posted on the Web and competing teams and schools must solve the crime on - line.
3 Pick one of the career options mentioned in this teaching unit, i.e., archaeologist, anthropologist, writer, miner, prospector, geologist, or any other career you may wish to explore. Do a comprehensive on - line search for information about that career choice. Find out as much as you can about it. Perhaps, through some of the CHAT facilities, you'll be able to "interview" someone who works in the career or profession you've chosen. After which, write a detailed description about what's involved when considering your choice. What must you do to get there? How many steps are there? What advice might you offer to someone else considering the same career? Which are the best schools, programs and employment opportunities? Post your results.
Earliest Natives 25,000 B.C. Cross the Bering Land
Egyptian Empire 2850 - 175 B.C. Nile Valley
Reign of King Tut 1333 - 1323 B.C. Nile Valley
Greek Empire 900 - 200 B.C. Greece
Roman Empire 500 B.C. - 300 A.D. Italy, Asia Minor,
Mediterannean, Western Eur.
Mayan Culture 460 A.D. Mexico
Vikings 1000 A.D. Land at L'Anse aux
Renaissance Begins 1325 A.D. Italy
lands in the West
Indies 1492 A.D. North America
Edgar Allan Poe 1841 A.D. Publishes "Murders in the
Samuel B. Morse 1844 A.D. Invents Morse Code
Police (RCMP) 1873 A.D. Created by Act of
Alexander Graham Bell 1876 A.D. Invents the telephone
Agatha Christie 1890 A.D. Born in Devon, England
Klondike Gold Rush 1896 - 8 A.D. Gold fever in the Yukon
RCMP 1911 The lost patrol
First World War 1914 - 18 The first global conflict
Agatha Christie 1926 Mysteriously disappears
for 11 days
The Great Depression 1929 The worst financial crisis
Second World War 1939 - 45 The second global conflict
Agatha Christie 1976 The most successful mystery
Figures not transcribed Consult original publication…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: The Links Project (Arts & Entertainment Network Teaching Tool). Contributors: Not available. Magazine title: Teach. Publication date: January/February 1997. Page number: Insert. © Quadrant Educational Enterprises Inc. May/Jun 2007. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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