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Lesson Plan: Us and Them

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Keywords: video editing, inclusion, blog, podcast, Hipcast, Wiffiti, cell phones, essays
Subject(s): Grammar, Spelling, English/Language Arts, Social Studies, Information Skills, Reading, Music, Writing, Podcasting, Technology, Social Skills, Video, Civics, Speech and Language, History
Grades 10 through 12
School: Brockport High School, Brockport, NY
Planned By: Eric Simpson
Original Author: Eric Simpson, Brockport
One of the fundamental aspects of human social behavior is the way in which we categorize ourselves into groups of one kind or another, and how these groupings define and shape the way that we perceive and interact with the world. When we choose to identify with a particular group, we invariably define at the same time those that are outside the group. All too often those boundaries can become the basis of difference and conflict.

This series of lessons will help students identify some of the ways in which people categorize themselves in various ways, and be able to recognize that membership of any particular group “Us” can shift depending on how the group is defined. There will be repetition and reinforcement of how the perception of who is “Us” and who is “Them” can change as the definition of the societal group changes.

Lesson 1: Brainstorming: Societal Groups. Students will use cell phones to text the names of various societal groupings to which the students think they belong, to a Wiffiti.com screen where the responses will post and remain on the screen. After all the ideas have been collected, the list of societal groups will be refined so that there is one group for every two students. The groups selected should be those broad enough that at least a few of the students in class might be members.

Lesson 2: Students will (with parental approval) take self portraits of themselves with cell phones and upload them to a dedicated class Photobucket.com account. [Note, students whose parents do not approve the photo will have the option of creating or selecting an icon or avatar to represent them.] Albums will be created for each of the selected societal groups and copies of those student portraits/avatars that belong in a particular group will be placed in the appropriate folders.

Lesson 3: Students in groups of 2 or 3 will be assigned to one of the selected societal groups and tasked to create three images using Photoshop or other image editing software. The first image will reflect aspects of their assigned societal group and will incorporate the student portraits/avatars that are identified as members of the group. The second image will incorporate aspects of the remaining students not included as members of the assigned societal group. The third image will be an image that reflects the larger societal context (whites and minorities might be mentioned in terms of race, or male and female might have a reference to gender, etc) The first image of each group will be labeled “Us”, and the 2nd image will be labeled “Them”.

Lesson 4: Students assigned to each societal group will prepare and write four brief passages. The first will introduce their group in terms of the larger overall context. The second passage will be written from the POV of the societal group members to include characteristics of their group that define them. The third passage will also prepare a similar passage will be written from the POV of those members not included as members of the group, and identify characteristics that set them apart from the assigned group. The final passage will identify the areas of common ground an introduce the new group definition. Once the passages are written, the students will create a podcast of their passages using cell phones on Hipcast.com, which will be posted on a dedicated class blog. Each student in the group will do at least one podcast, and all members of the group will simultaneously record the fourth passage about the new definition.

Lesson 5: Students will use their images and podcasts to create a short video using iMovie, or similar movie creation software. The individual movies will be consolidated into a single movie that can be posted on the blog, or otherwise shared in a manner consistent with school policy.

Lesson 6: Each group of students will work together to try to identify areas of common ground between the “Us” and “Them” for each societal group (avoiding obvious all- encompassing descriptions such as “human”, “children”, “students”, etc) . The groups will report out their suggestions for common ground and a consolidated list will be developed.

Lesson 7: Students will each prepare a reflective essay on the societal groups to which they were considered members and identify areas of common ground that they might have with the groups for which they were not members. They will conclude by describing how they might react the next time they discovered a new “Them”.

Incorporating the cell phone with the rest of the technology instruction is a good way to sustain interest, and subject matter will required some solid critical thinking. The most valuable aspect of this lesson might simply be providing the students a chance to gain some perceptual flexibility.
Provide 5 "Floater" phones that can be temporarily assigned to students who are without, for the
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
The process used in this lesson can be easily applied in the Social Studies arena to examine various cultures throughout history and today.
Once the "Us and Them" concept is internalized, students can use it as an analytical tool to examine conflict and character relations.
Links: Link to Hipcast
Link to Wiffiti
Materials: Slideshow, Podcasting, Literacy, Reading
Other Items: 1 Hipcast Monthly Subscription over 2 years, $478.80 each, total of $478.80
1 Family Share Plan for 5 lines over 2 year contract, $6240.00 each, total of $6240.00
5 Verizon Smart Phone Droid X, $349.00 each, total of $1745.00