Thursday, March 12, 2015

Eavesdropping Barbie a Smash Hit for Instruction!

Wow.  When I read in the Washington Post  about Mattel's new "eavesdropping Barbie," my adrenaline started to flow with the thought of instructional possibilities: Close Reading discussion and debate, seed text for research, CyberSafety, Patriot Act, Right to privacy, Bill of Rights, and more.  Just think about this Essential Question which would spark curiosity setting the stage for focused reading: 

EQ: Has technology evolved beyond its' own good?  

Guiding Questions for discussion or Text-dependent Questions: 
  • How do toys reflect the culture? 
  • Is there a potential for criminal activity? 
  • Would the Bill of Rights have anything to do with this? 
  • Would the Patriot Act have anything to do with this? 
  • Has Mattel toy company exceeded "childish" things with this new Hello Barbie
  • How does talking Barbie compare to talking Elmo? Why is it okay for Elmo to talk, but not this case? (This is an example of a TDQ which gets the kids to examine the text to see that it's not the talking that's the issue--but rather the listening.) 
This sample close reading piece measures a 10.5 on the Fleisch-Kincaid reading measure making it so appropriate for a great HS discussion piece.  It even has ample of great Tier 2  (SAT words) vocabulary words such as: Advocacy, advocates, affinity, subtle, vulnerable, confide, and more. If an ELA class was reading Brave New World, 1984, or some other dystopian novel, this could be paired with it to bring the material into the real world.  

(If you don't know how to measure readability statistics, read this blog posting: Click here )

Now we know that not everyone will be able to use this gem from the Washington Post. It is not a primary source document from the Library of Congress.  However, This is an example of using a short Close Reading piece to instigate a discussion --> which leads kids to conclude they don't know enough--> which leads to research to find the answers.  

For those people who need reading material of greater "substance" - consider pairing this with an excerpt from Chief Justice Louis Brandeis' dissenting opinion on the landmark "right to privacy" case of 1928.  Read this paragraph and see how appropriate his words were almost 100 years ago: 
  • MR. JUSTICE BRANDEIS, dissenting. . . . By objections seasonably made and persistently renewed, the defendants objected to the admission of the evidence obtained by wire-tapping, on the ground that the Government’s wire-tapping constituted an unreasonable search and seizure, in violation of the Fourth Amendment; and that the use as evidence of the conversations overheard compelled the defendants to be witnesses against themselves, in violation of the Fifth Amendment.   ...."Moreover, “in the application of a constitution, our contemplation cannot be only of what has been but of what may be.” The progress of science in furnishing the Government with means of espionage is not likely to stop with wire-tapping. Ways may someday be developed by which the Government, without removing papers from secret drawers, can reproduce them in court, and by which it will be enabled to expose to a jury the most intimate occurrences of the home. Advances in the psychic and related sciences may bring means of exploring unexpressed beliefs, thoughts and emotions. “That places the liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer” was said by James Otis of much lesser intrusions than these. To Lord Camden, a far slighter intrusion seemed “subversive of all the comforts of society.” Can it be that the Constitution affords no protection against such invasions of individual security? . . .  
After this close reading, discussion and debate, a teacher and librarian would again ask the students the Essential Question:  Has technology evolved beyond it's own good?  
Or, is technology a help or a hindrance? 
Ask your students: What else do you want to know about this?  

This is real life research. This is a life-long learning skill. This is relevant to their lives.  This fosters engagement. This is how we slowly make the paradigm shift to student-centered instruction.  Share this with a teacher who is wondering how to foster the "short term" research assignments that the CCSS says should be an "anchor standard." 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post. I never knew that I could check readability of my word documents. This really helped!