Sunday, October 5, 2008

Common Ground: A Simple Look at Changes in our World

This is a wonderful piece of visual journalism as a 100+ acre cattle farm in Illinois is torn down to make space for a new housing development.

Why might you show this to Elementary school students? I think students can understand the highly visual juxtaposition of images, video clips, and sound bytes to get the "big picture" that is created in this piece. It shows the changing of land use from rural to suburban, it tells about the loss of family farms (with a non judgmental tone), it displays human emotions brought on by change in the world, and it does so with a simple creativity. It also show how many things we hold in common. Check out how the pictures of the farm family and the new residents are compared and contrasted by similarity of images. My favorite is the photo of the cattle with their heads in the feeding pail next to the photo of a girl riding her toy bike on the driveway with a plastic bucket on her head. I think children would thrill to see how a creative person put these together with purpose. Some of the images on the screen are worth stopping this presentation for so as to discuss with a class. I like the quote at the end of the piece, "Farmland changes. You still see the same qualities of life even though it is no longer a farmland."

I can see how a short piece like this could fit in a Social Studies unit on regions of the US or on rural areas becoming suburban areas. It could also fit in a literary unit such as stories on the prairie like my class is reading now. It might also be used after reading a book like "What You Knew First" by Patricia MacClachlan about a family leaving a farm on the prairie behind. It is almost like a modern sequel to the simple children's book.

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