I used this activity as an ice breaker, entry into a discussion of texts, as well as an introduction to the observation unit. This activity also presented an opportunity to engage the students’ lives with what they brought into the classroom.
I didn’t add anything to the contents of my pockets before the class, I just used what I usually carry. It works well if you walk into the classroom and empty your pockets without saying a word. It catches the students’ attention. I held up every object that I had and I asked the class to describe what they saw and wrote their observations on the board. Some of the questions that I used to jump start the activity dealt with the objects’ symbols, condition, size, and design.
I then paired off the students and had them empty their pockets. Their partner made observations about the contents of their partner’s pockets, introduced them to the class, and made some inductive statements concerning their partner.
What surprised me was how much the students focused on each others’ phones. They read into the status associated with the device and how well the student appeared to take care of it. They didn’t separate the market value of the item from its functionality. For example, the Droids vs. the iPhones; they basically do the same thing but the price tag is different. The students’ understanding of brands influenced the statements they made concerning each other and they ended the description of the phone with an assumption of the financial well being of their partner. It brings an interesting presence of Marxist theory into the discussion as well.
This activity took about an hour with the students doing introductions and didn’t leave much time for a class discussion concerning what text is if you are on the MWF schedule. At the time, I was having the students write a class journal and asked them to follow up the activity by finding a personal object, describing it, and then relating what it represented to them.
By adding different components to this activity, you can adapt it to the Analysis or Synthesis Unit. This activity is also a great way to introduce the topic of context.
LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW IF YOU TAUGHT THIS LESSON IN YOUR CLASSROOM. HOW DID IT GO? WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN? DID YOU MAKE ANY MODIFICATIONS?
Wow, Sarah (Stanley) just showed me this new writealaska website. I think it’s amazing!:) I read this one activity (randomly) just now…
Hm…I really like this activity–but the nonfiction writer/theorist in me is wondering: Who wrote it?
Is there a reason that this activity (and others?) isn’t signed?
As I’m thinking about all this, I’m realizing there are reasons to sign things and reasons not to…What do YOU think?
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