This post is me giving up on the hope of having my completed videos returned to me from MediaBreaker and instead moving forward with my now very delayed reflection.
I used MediaBreaker to illustrate the divide in gendered advertisements for children’s toys with my fifth graders. We spent the week looking at commercials as a class and analyzing themes between the “girl” toys and the “boy” toys. After the initial analysis as a group, I showed them two separate Nerf commercials. We looked at a commercial for Nerf Rebelle and a commercial for Nerf Zombie Strike.
In many ways, the toys were very similar. But the commercials are starkly contrasting.
The students were deeply engaged in pulling apart the messages in these commercials. I was really impressed with what they noticed. For example, they observed that the boys were all shooting at animated zombies that exploded into black dust. However, the girls were shooting into thin air or at non-moving targets. My students believed this showed that boys could be more violent and girls needed to be more peaceful.
I had the students brainstorm notes that they wanted to include in the MediaBreaker video. I then took their notes so I could put the video together (as my students are too young to use MediaBreaker without parent permission).
I love the concept of MediaBreaker. However, using the tool itself was a struggle for me. Especially considering I still don’t have any way to access the videos I created. This is the biggest frustration for me. I can work with clunky tools and make it work out, but not having any way to view the completed video until it’s approved is incredibly frustrating. My students were looking forward to seeing the finished product, and I’m beginning to believe that I’ll never get to show it to them.
The tool itself aside, I love the idea of providing my students with the opportunity to critically analyze and break apart commercials. I had a student come to class the next day ad tell me that she was watching TV and noticing the gender bias in the commercials at home. Advertisements impact children all the time through all types of media and this tool allows students to begin to notice the subconscious messages they run into in their daily lives.