Suggested Activities

All of the media suggested in this module can make for lively and engaged classroom discussions. Below you will find specific activities that can help get those discussions started, as well as have students reflect on material and demonstrate comprehension. All of the activities suggested here can be adapted easily to different kinds of classrooms, courses, and student levels.

Television and Film

Viewing Guides: It is recommended that instructors share a question or two about a given film or television show prior to screening it. This helps stimulate the students’ interest and ensures their focused engagement in the post­viewing discussions. Questions are often tailored according to the desired learning outcomes. Discussions could be conducted in pair or mini­group formats. For writing intensive courses, short reflections that record the students’ critical readings are instrumental to enhancing their viewing experience. Refer to the following lessons for an example of a middle/high school viewing guide:


Word Clouds: In­-class activity, written assignment. Using the lyrics of a song, have students generate a word cloud using a free, web­based word cloud generator ie: The greater the frequency of a word, the larger it appears in the cloud. Use the cloud as a discussion starter, or ask students to analyze the most prominent vocabulary.

Visual Arts

Compare and Contrast: Written assignment, in­-class small group activity, or presentation. Have students each select 2 objects or works of art from the list provided. Have them analyze the formal aspects of the work and compare and contrast topics such as: use of color, shape, and proportion; use of script or text; materials and media; historical details such as time period and geographical location of the work. Next ask them to reflect on the content of the compositions: Does this work contain a narrative? Is it depicting a recognizable person or place? What emotional qualities does the work elicit?

All Media

Question Pooling: In-­class activity. Have students write discussion questions, anonymously, on slips of paper and place them in a basket in the front of the room. By selecting a question at random, use these student-generated questions to get a large group discussion started. Alternatively, distribute the questions within small groups to stimulate small­ group discussion.

60­-second Lectures: Short presentations.

After showing a film, listening to a piece of music, or even at the end of a larger course unit, ask students to prepare a one-­minute lecture to summarize what they have just seen or learned.