This is the companion website to the PBS documentary film entitled "People Like Us". The site includes games, resources, personal stories, resources, and opportunities for users to provide comments. The site offers games, video clips from the film, teaching plans and links to other resources that allow students to explore the role of social class in our culture as well as their own ideas of their personal social class. Through various activities the site offers background information as well as topics for conversation.
Type of Material:
An interactive website.
This is a very flexible module in that certain components could be used during class (e.g., video, in-class activities) as well as outside of class (e.g., games) as an assignment.
Computer with various programs installed (links provided in the module). Several activities require Shockwave and/or Flash player
Identify Major Learning Goals:
The overall learning goal is to provide a format for students to think about and discuss social class in America. Component parts, however, have sub-objectives based on the subject area involved, i.e. marketing, mathematics, social studies, etc. Social class can be a sensitive issue and difficult to determine, but it is an important predictor of various opportunities one may have in life. Learning goals include: * To understand how social class works in America. * To test preconceptions about who belongs where on the social scale.
Target Student Population:
This can be used in any class where "social class" might be a topic such as consumer behavior, principles of marketing, sociology, and marketing research. The site mentions that the content is suggested for students in grades 7-10. Because of the references to PRIZM, this site may be useful for students studying market segmentation and target marketing.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Basic computer skills and general understanding of social class concepts
The module’s biggest strong point is its teacher resources, particularly the lesson plans, which are well structured, routed in national standards and organized by subject area. Each is written with learning objectives, tools needed, and strategies for execution, with limited reliance on the other portions of the website, and all appear ready to enact with minimal modifications. The site also provides links to current articles on social class that are open to various uses. Utilization of these two areas primarily would foster a quality discussion of social class in America that is applicable to multiple subject areas.
Certain areas of the site require additional software to use (Adobe RealPlayer, Flash, Shockwave,etc.) which may inhibit usage if not pre-installed. Additionally the video links to the PBS film were inactive, which may limit some portions of the posted activities and require an instructor to search elsewhere. Lastly the games were “fun” and certainly could prompt a discussion, but it is hard to verify that they are supported by any scholarship rather than just being anecdotal. Due to the nature of the topic, an instructor should guide the discussion/present the topic rather than relying on this as a complete self-directed student activity.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Depending on how many activities are completed within this module, there is a great potential for students to learn a lot about social class in America. The module includes suggested times to complete activities, assessment recommendations, and methods to extend the base assignments even further.
The Teacher’s Guide under the Resources link is the best part of the module, particularly the lesson plans. While the overall publication requires usage of the video clips (currently inoperable), there are embedded activities that could be adapted for use without the associated videos. Additionally, the “What Class Am I?” photo section offers insight into how many different people can view the same person, thereby allowing a student to contemplate his/her world-view. The activities and lesson plans are well crafted, and would provide for an educational and meaningful classroom and/or homework activity in various content areas.
A global perspective is missing. Students should be reminded that this module focuses on social class in America and it doesn't put the material into a global context. Nonetheless, this provides opportunities to discuss how social class in America differs from social class in other parts of the world.
The largest difficulty is the lack of working links to the documentary video. Teachers wishing to use this portion of the resource would need to search elsewhere and/or plan ahead in time to order the video. Additionally, the games could certainly prompt a discussion but there is no guarantee that the results are accurate.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The module includes a link to a Teacher's Guide for educators who would like to incorporate discussions of social class into their course. The Teacher's Guide is available in .pdf and .html format and includes many step-by-step instructions on how to discuss some of the material about social class. Additional materials are found within the website at http://www.pbs.org/peoplelikeus/resources/index.html
The website overall is very navigable with working links in all other areas. Colors are bright and there is an interactive component at the games link that makes for an engaging presentation and certainly develops interest. The content is easily understandable, with multiple areas prompting discussion of a valuable cultural topic.
The primary concern is the lack of active links to the video content, which prevents enhanced use of the website’s resources. In order to view some of the materials, a Shockwave plug-in is required.
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