When it comes to teaching kids about important world issues, nothing gets their attention like a video or picture. Generally, we don’t want students wasting away staring at a screen when they could be participating in lively discussions. However, showing age-appropriate videos and/or images really drives home the reality of many startling issues.
A teacher could talk all day about a puppy mill, but until a student sees the conditions the puppies are kept in, they won’t fully connect. With one photo or a three-minute clip, the animals affected become real instead of abstract. The same goes for seeing children working in sweatshops, or rainforests being cleared for wood. Imagining a rainforest and all the habitats it provides being destroyed doesn’t have the same effect as seeing a before and after image of a once thriving forest becoming empty land.
One of our educators Kim Korona tells a story about a dog named Bonnie who traveled in a boxcar all the way from Mexico to Detroit. The students relate to Bonnie’s difficult journey and imagine her traveling all by herself with no food or water up through the USA. But it isn’t until Kim shows these two images, a before and after, that the kids start audibly reacting. They can’t help it. They’ve now seen Bonnie. She’s real.
Thankfully, in a world full of video and images online, it’s easy to find what we need for the classroom. Many non-profits have their own youtube accounts where teachers can find content on any number of issues. Also, organizations like Teaching Tolerance offer entire lesson plans centered around educational dvds.
Do you have any favorite videos or images that you use in the classroom?
Rainforest Image by Victoria Reay / Flickr
Deforestation Image by Rainforest Action Network/ Flickr
Boxcar Bonnie from Michigan Humane