Workshops for Educators

Teaching with Television

Does television really get your students talking? Education programs at The Paley Center for Media use television as a catalyst for learning and as a means for helping teachers meet curriculum standards.

The Paley Center's mission is to acquire, preserve, interpret and make available to the public an extensive collection of radio, television and internet programming. It is one of the world's leading facilities of its kind, with a collection of over 160,000 programs.

Students today come into regular contact with moving images in several different platforms. As a result, they already interact with television, film and other digital media in a very sophisticated way and are aware of narrative conventions and concepts such as genre, character development, story structure, and dramatic conflict. Television is a mirror of our society and can serve as a catalyst for discussion and debate in diverse areas of study.

The Paley Center's Education Department uses the collection in partnership with schools and other educational institutions to raise and explore the key themes and issues that have shaped the twentieth century and beyond, as well as to develop and refine our audience's critical thinking, viewing and listening skills.

Classes and workshops are designed to augment and enrich the study of Literature, American History, Social Studies, Media and Communications, Art, Global Studies, ELL, and Science.

In special cases, museum educators will work with teachers to develop specific programs that coordinate with ongoing classroom curriculum.

Our educational programs have several broad objectives:

  • —To introduce students to unique and unfamiliar television and radio programs.
  • —To help students develop active and critical speaking, viewing and listening skills.
  • —To present television and radio as text and to provide students with the analytical skills to interpret and understand it.
  • —To encourage media literacy.
  • —To provide a museum experience that relates to ongoing classroom curriculum.
Classes and workshops consist of screenings and discussions are designed to encourage active and critical thinking, viewing and listening.

The basic units in any class or workshop are as follows:

  • Focus activity or discussion:
The focus activity or discussion introduces students to a given theme, builds upon existing knowledge and connects to the students' personal experiences. This can consist of a discussion based on a pre-visit worksheet, a role-play, or a simple clustering exercise about a particular word or question.
  • Focus question:
The focus question asks students to look for or notice something in particular during the clip. It is important that the question be specific but also be open-ended, therefore allowing several different answers in order to spark discussion.
  • Screening of a clip:
Clips are between 1 and 8 minutes.  Often clips are screened more than once or are stopped intermittently for discussion.
  • Summary/description:
After each clip is screened, students are asked to describe what they remember seeing. Their summaries should start at the beginning of the clip and include as much detail as possible. Often it is useful to ask students literally, "What was the first thing you remember seeing. Summarizing each clip takes time, but it focuses the class on the same issue or question and allows for richer discussion. It is not necessary to summarize the entire clip as this could take an entire period.  When students are truly engaged and focused on what they saw and heard the summary ends and they begin to answer the focus question.
  • Re-state and answer the focus question:
Once students have begun to describe and summarize then restate the focus question. It is a good idea to encourage a wide range of opinion by asking "Does anyone disagree or want to add to that?" or "Did anyone notice anything different?"
  • Make connections/ compare and contrast:
After analyzing each clip, ask students to look for similarities and differences between clips.