Project Title: Changing Society’s Habits with Public Service Announcements
Software Used: iMovie, Internet (possibly), Garage Band (possibly)
Subject and Grade Level: 12th Grade English (or whatever course you teach satire)
Intergrated Subject Areas Also Covered: History
Standards: 12.1.1, 12.1.3, 12.1.5, 12.2.1, 12.2.2, 12.2.4, 12.3.2
Suggestions: This should be done at the end of a satire unit to ensure that students understand that satire is different than stand up comedy because it makes fun of society to try and promote change. It should not be merely humorous or ridicule society. The story board is a vital part of the project even though most students will try to jump right into making the movie so I don’t allow them to begin without approval of the script.
Materials needed: computer, digital camera or video camera (depending on the script), props and costumes (depending on the script)
Lesson Plans/Directions: This is a culminating activity. At the beginning of the unit we discuss various types of satire. We read examples of both horatian (playfully amusing) and juvenalian (cynical) satire. We usually read A Modest Proposal, an excerpt from Gulliver’s Travels, and Animal Farm. I also have students evaluate a few skits from Saturday Night Livethat I have taped for content purposes. (An episode of The Simpsons, South Park or King of the Hill would also work for current satire if you choose a school appropriate episode.) As we are doing the literature, I emphasize how the historical events and pop culture influence the topics that satirists choose to poke fun at. We also collect political cartoons from the newspapers throughout the unit to show that the satire doesn’t have to be in any particular format.
To ensure the students truly understand satire, we create our own satires in the form of a public service announcement. The Nebraska State Patrol asked for students to create public service announcements that would be aired during proms and graduations. I took their guidelines and added the satire aspect. The first day we discussed important issues for teens and the intended audience for a PSA. We brainstorm several topics and ideas for a satire of the topic. After that, I introduce the phases of creating an iMovie (pre-production, production, and post-production.) I really emphasize the importance of pre-production and thinking through every aspect of the movie.
The next two days I allow students to work on their story board. They must have every aspect of their PSA scripted (words spoken, pictures or video that will be seen, props needed, etc.). I use their story board that they give me to grade the final project. They must provide a written reason for any change — Joe couldn’t act the part because he went to Colorado, etc. Students are not allowed to begin the iMovie until I have approved the story board.
I have them use a weekend (especially if it’s a long weekend) to do the production step. That is the step that they will use for taping the skit or taking pictures. When they get back from the weekend, I allow them three days to do the post-production steps. (Assembling the clips, adding music, etc.) The other two days of the week are used for vocabulary or grammar focus so they have another weekend of out of school time if needed to any final touches. Since PSAs are so short, it only takes one day to present them and discuss the satire aspect. I usually do the discussing as the next presenter is changing the computer to the projector.