What a roller coaster of a week! This last Wednesday, I was supposed to teach Phys Ed. I wanted to try and incorporate my idea for including Treaty education into the gymnasium, and to further polish my first lesson plan. However, I got an email two days beforehand letting me know that the gym was no longer available. Oh no! My cooperating teacher suggested that I take the Phys Ed lesson outside, which I entertained for awhile. I tried to come up with a way I could get my class engaged and excited to be outside, but after Tuesday’s storm, I didn’t know what kind of weather we would be having on Wednesday. I had an idea of creating snow sculptures, but I couldn’t be sure that the snow would be sticky enough to make sculptures, or if it would all melt. (Stereotypical Saskatchewan problems..)
So instead, I had to step entirely out of my comfort zone, because one of the last outcomes left to cover was in Social Studies.
Personally, I had a pretty poor experience in Social Studies. I moved in grade 5 from a small town to Saskatoon, and the curriculum seemed to be reversed. Things I had already covered/learned in earlier grades seemed to be what was being covered in later grades in Saskatoon. So from grades 4-7, I learned pretty much the same units on repeat. I am not entirely sure how that worked out, but after colouring a map of Canada 3-4 years in a row, and learning about the Hudson Bay Company over and over again, I gave up as a student on learning anything more about Canada. It wasn’t until grade 12 that I felt like I learned anything worth while, and that was the first time I had really had any sort of Treaty Education, too. I feel like I have little experience in Social Studies, so it was kind of scary for me to teach a lesson in it.
I based my lesson on Consumerism and Advertising. At the beginning of the lesson, I reminded my class that we had problems with the noise level last week, so I draw three smiley faces on the board and told them their homework would increase in size every time I erased a smiley face. I told them if they got loud, they would get a warning, but if they didn’t quiet down, I would erase a smiley face and they would have to write two more answers on top of the 6 that were already assigned. It worked wonderfully. I didn’t end up erasing a smiley face, but I probably should have. They still talked often, but it was because they were having a lot of fun with the lesson I prepared for them.
I started the lesson off by asking my students to share examples of commercials they have seen recently. I would follow up their story by asking them, “How did they sell the product to you? How did they convince you to buy it?” After a lot of examples, (at one point, the class burst out into song together, singing the Dempster bread theme song? I didn’t even know that was a thing!) we moved on to talk about the definition of consumerism. I got them to analyze the same examples of commercials they had talked about, and how they thought it was contributing to consumerism. From there, we looked at examples of ads in the PowerPoint I had prepared. We looked at a beauty ad, and talked about how the advertisers try to associate being beautiful with their product. I was so proud, because I wasn’t entirely sure if the class would understand the concept of beauty standards. Instead, they all were fast to point out that the model in the ad was clearly photo-shopped, and a girl who was normally silent through all of my lectures, raised her hand about 5-6 times. That was the most I had heard from her since I started my internship at that school. I was ecstatic! My students were so engaged with the lesson and so excited to share their opinions on the commercials. We had a lot of fun making jokes about “Protein yogurt,” which is a brand of yogurt catered to masculinity, because according to one of my students, “Yogurt commercials are aimed towards women,” which is entirely correct. We then talked about recycling, reducing, and reusing items in creative ways to help reduce waste, and those reduce the cycle of supply and demand.
Lots of students had things to share, so we ran out of time towards the end and they only had a few minutes to finish their assignment. They had to list 6 ways they could fight against consumerism, whether by thinking twice before purchasing something, recycling, or reusing various objects. It was a wonderful lesson, and they had a lot of fun. Next time around, I’m going to make sure I enforce my smiley face rule, but other than that, I’m very happy with how it turned out.
Thanks for reading,