Media Literacy

From Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes collection, lesson plan 5 of 5

(90 minutes + assignments)

Grade Level: 9-12, College

Subject areas: Social Studies, Language Arts, Ethnic Studies, U.S. History, Media Studies, Cultural Studies, Art/Music, Current Events

Purpose of the lesson: The film takes a critical look at how hip-hop’s image is portrayed, especially in popular media. This lesson provides students with an opportunity to do their own media research on and analysis of how images are manufactured and marketed.

National teaching standards addressed:

Grades 9-12

National standards from the following organizations were used in developing this lesson plan. See recommended national standards available in the educator guide for full descriptions of standards employed.

  • National Council for the Social Studies
  • National Council of Teachers of English/International Reading Association

Writer: David Maduli

David Maduli is an independent educational consultant who has contributed many curriculum guides and conducted various workshops for PBS programs. He has a master’s in teaching and curriculum from Harvard Graduate School of Education and continues to work as a veteran Bay Area public school language arts and social studies teacher.

For this activity show Film Module 4, “Media Literacy” (5:34)

  1. In small groups, have students brainstorm as many places and spaces as they can think of (television, films, commercials, billboards, video games, magazines, news, characters in books, etc.) where images of hip-hop can be seen and hip-hop music can be heard.

  2. From that list, each student should pick a different media outlet that he or she will research, view and bring in examples to report on (refer to the Media Literacy MAP framework.

    Have the students use the following guide questions:

    • What type of media is being used?
    • Who or what aspect of hip-hop is being presented?
    • What stereotypes are being reinforced (or invalidated)?
    • Is the image positive or negative? In what ways?
    • What are the lyrics and images communicating to the viewer/listener?
    • Who is the target audience? How might they receive the images?
    • Who produced and funded the image? How much input do you think the hip-hop subject had in producing the representation?
    • Who would benefit from this image? What product or service is being sold with the help of this image?
  3. Have groups present their findings. They should share the media examples they found and explain and discuss their analysis of them.

  4. Filmmaker Byron Hurt came up with the vision and the critique that drives this film. Have students read this VIBE Magazine interview with Hurt. Hurt explains that in approaching the subjects he interviews and in presenting his critique that “it was important that people know me as somebody who really loves hip-hop and not someone trying to dis hip-hop.” He also begins the film with a disclaimer to emphasize that he is critiquing hip-hop from the point of view of a participant, hip-hop community member, and insider. Use these guide questions to discuss Hurt’s statements:

    • Why does Hurt feel it is important that he make this disclaimer to the viewer?
    • How do his disclaimer and his explanation for his critique of hip-hop affect how you, as a viewer, receive the points he is making?
    • How do you think his insider position affected the responses he received from his interviewees?
    • Who else do you think he should have interviewed or included as a voice in the film? What other questions would you have asked the interviewees if you were behind the camera?
  5. Back in small groups, have students design and present a media representation of hip-hop in the way they would like to portray it. It could be a treatment for a music video, a television show, a film, a print, a radio or television advertisement, a news report, and so on. Have them consider why they choose the images they do and what impact their representation would have on viewers/listeners and consumers. After each group presents its representation, have the class give the group feedback using the same guide questions from Step 2 of this activity that artists choose to communicate.

There is no extension activity with this lesson plan.

  • Film module:
    Hip-Hop: Media Literacy
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