What draws me to online resources for the classroom like Brain Pickings is the multimedia experience a single post can offer students. While it’s true that video cannot be the only way we teach students to interact with the world, short, meaningful videos can help enrich the social commentary that student construct within their writing and discussion.
Part of asking students to become digital citizens means requiring them to consider how video, text and images overlap within writing online. Brain Pickings offers a thoughtful way to incorporate this skill into a humanities style classroom. The examples below are just a starting point and are meant to offer you some choices in teaching rhetoric, texts or moral/ethical debates. You can easily find posts that better serve your needs depending on your curriculum simply by subscribing to the weekly newsletter or searching the archives.
This post is an appropriate supplement to Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser or The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. There are several other Brain Pickings posts referenced, as well. Consider having student explore/research the topic via these hyperlinks. The video is a wonderful argument about food via food. Consider the questions below for written response or discussion.
- What elements of the video are the most engaging or clever? Explain your reasoning.
- What necessity is there for a visual representation of this nature? Why not simply use both audio and video from Michael Pollan?
- Identify Pollan’s argument via the narration. Identify the video’s argument via its content.
You may even consider including the Brain Pickings post entitled “The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption.”
Teaching logical fallacies can be difficult. Students struggle to understand where/when they exist because they are inexperience and often believe most information is true. This particular post includes a series of animated videos that teach logic and logical fallacies. The non-sequitur and straw man videos are especially clear in teaching and could easily be posted for students to watch.
This post is a convergence of teaching the importance of empathy, action/volunteerism, entrepreneurship, global citizenship and literacy. Use this multimedia post to teach students about the importance of literacy and personal action. Questions below consider all aspects of the post.
- Why adapt this type of story from a memoir and turn it into an illustrated children’s book?
- What argument is to be found in the actual images assembled in the Brain Pickings post
- What argument is made within the post about this type of entrepreneurship and literacy? Discuss the type or responsibility being advocated.
- View the video. Discuss the mixed media is relies upon. What is the effect of using the books illustrations, interviews and real video?
- Discuss the purpose of the video. Does it accomplish that goal?
Encourage students to explore the We Give Books website. Much like Free Rice, students, teacher, parents, etc. can read books online and then have books donated for no personal cost to several charities.