This webpage (http://mediasmarts.ca/lessonplan/exposing-gender-stereotypes-lesson) contains a lesson plan (the first in a series of three) intended to introduce students in grades 8 and 9 to gender stereotypes. The lesson plan is available as a downloadable .pdf document and focuses on how gender stereotypes may impact an individual’s perceptions. This lesson was taken, with permission, from the award-winning Violence-Prevention Curriculum "Healthy Relationships," produced by the Halifax, Nova Scotia advocacy group "Men For Change." The page is part of a larger website created by "MediaSmarts," a Canadian not-for-profit charitable organization for digital and media literacy. The site contains numerous digital and media literacy resources including ones for teachers. Detailed learning objectives for the lesson plan also are included.
The primary focus of this webpage is to present an educational lesson relating to gender stereotypes and how the media and other environmental agents may influence the development and perpetuation of these stereotypes. The website provides specific learning goals as follows.
"The objective of this lesson is to encourage students to develop their own critical intelligence with regard to culturally inherited stereotypes, and to the images presented in the media....In this lesson, students take a look at their own assumptions about what it means to be a man, and what it means to be a woman. The brainstorming and discussion sessions are meant to encourage them to ask gender-specific questions as a step in the self-reflective process. Students will begin to see how believing in stereotypes can lead to violence towards oneself and others." In this lesson, "students will: discuss characteristics of male and female stereotypes in our society; identify ways in which their own lives have been affected by these stereotypes; and identify the aspects of these stereotypes that are related to violence."
Target Student Population:
The target student population consists of eighth and ninth graders although, with some modifications, the lesson could be used with high school students or even college-level undergraduates. For example, it would be useful to apply in undergraduate level psychology courses, particularly those examining gender, social psychology, and morality.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
• There are no technical prerequisites for the use of this material. Only basic computer usage skills are needed for accessing and reviewing this assignment.
• Little background in psychology or gender is required as this an introductory assignment that educates students before they gain significant grounding in a given field.
• The material is best used by teachers with some classroom experience and/or training in dealing with sensitive topics.
Type of Material:
Workshop and Training Materials: The webpage itself gives a brief overview of the lesson plan. The plan is available as a downloadable .pdf file that can be used as a handout in teacher training workshops (or used by an individual teacher in preparing a lesson on this topic). The lesson plan includes information on stereotypes, student activities, discussion questions, and role playing exercises.
• The lesson plan should be used to conduct a classroom session (or perhaps several) in a course where a discussion of stereotypes would be relevant. Courses might include those in psychology, sociology, health, social studies, mass communications, and diversity.
• The plan would lend itself particularly well to small group discussions. Details regarding potential topics are provided.
This learning material requires an Internet connection and a compatible browser. The lesson Plan is a PDF document, but opens in browsers perfectly. The site was successfully tested using Windows 7, Mozilla Firefox (v10.0.2), Internet Explorer (v8.0.7), and Google Chrome (v25.0.1). It also is compatible with Safari on iPad3 and iPhone4. Mac OS and other mobile devices were not tested. ADAA compliance was not tested.
Evaluation and Observation
• The material is from a credible source.
• Overall this particular assignment is highly detailed and well documented. It is designed as a downloadable lesson plan and made available on a descriptive webpage. Clear objectives and connections are presented, and outlines for potential applications in a classroom are provided. Also included are details for the instructor on conducting a role play. This resource is very well thought-out.
• There are no references included at the end of the lesson plan related to scholarship on this important topic (gender role, media influence, and gender stereotypes). Teachers need to familiarize themselves with the research on stereotypes before conducting the lesson and students should be provided with relevant, scholarly references if they want to explore the topic in more depth. A reference list could include some easy-to-read literature review articles by experts in the field for beginning teachers and younger students.
• It is recommended that these references be provided both in the downloadable document at the end, as well as on the website.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
• The lesson deals with a very important topic and does so in an engaging way. The variety of activities and discussion questions will help students think critically about their use of stereotypes and those they see portrayed in the media.
• This lesson plan presents possible teaching scenarios that include use of a flip-chart in the classroom, as well as discussion points and role-play opportunities. Each of these possible applications is well thought-out and provides enough detail to implement simply by following the author’s guidelines. The topics and questions presented build easily upon one another in this design, leading students down a path of understanding progressively. It is a strong design for a short but powerful lesson.
• The lesson would be more effective if supplemented with relevant research findings.
• The lesson may be used independently and applied by an instructor as deemed useful. However, it would be useful to show or explain how this material might be integrated into particular courses (i.e., across fields) and to list any prerequisite knowledge that might lead to the best outcomes. Overall, though, this resource may be used without prerequisite knowledge both in and outside of the field of psychology with positive impact.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
• Technically, the material is very easy to use as it is a downloadable .pdf file.
• The instructional design behind this lesson plan is right on target and illustrates progressive knowledge, excellent planning that places learning objectives and student engagement at the forefront of the design, and clearly laid-out plans that should be easy to follow both for individuals who are new to teaching as well as veterans of the teaching practice.
• However, the application of the lesson is more challenging as it calls for a teacher to consider what materials to have on hand (flip chart, markers, etc.), the layout of the room (in order to do role playing, etc.), and how to deal with unexpected questions and emotions that arise from the discussion of gender stereotypes.
• This activity in and of itself does not possess interactivity, though interactivity is heavily built into the design.