Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Travolta's Teachable Moment

YouTube is a great resource when it comes to finding timely video clips- just preview the exact one to make sure you know what you are showing.*

Sunday at the Oscars, John Travolta made somewhat of a gaffe by, I guess you could call it mis-introducing singer Idina Menzel, because it went far beyond simply mispronouncing her name. Your students are likely to have background information about this as the song she was singing is from the animated hit Frozen.

I know many have sympathy for Mr. Travolta for various reasons, but nevertheless, the humorous situation can be used as a teachable moment for students (and us)! Though we emphasize social concepts such as "People Files" (see Social Thinking® and the work of Michelle Garcia Winner) regularly, students still benefit from regular review of why it is important to at least use others' names purposefully, if not have deeper knowledge about them, and this situation seemed totally on point. Use YouTube to look up the occurrence, or see this link for video, and for an engaging twist, a little interactive that lets you "Travoltify" your students' names.

You can also show at least the beginning of the performance immediately after and discuss why it was important for Ms. Menzel to react professionally:

If you have been to one of Sarah Ward's workshops, her STOP strategy for situational awareness (Space, Time, Objects, People) goes well with this situation.

Space- onstage, backstage, audience, well, uh, the world.
Time- Before the show, each piece of the show is rehearsed several times. What happened right after this? What should Mr. Travolta do to make up for his mistake after this?
Objects- Paper (could have been used as memory aid), teleprompter.
People- What do we know about Mr. Travolta? What about Ms. Menzel- unfortunately this was a shining moment for her that got messed up a bit. What did others think about his mistake? What are the emotions involved for the speaker, singer, viewer. See this ad by the promoters of Idina Menzel's new Broadway show capitalizing on the humor of the story.

The concepts established with the clip can then be applied to activities emphasizing names and people files within the group.

*I also like to use apps such as TubeBox to save clips (avoiding connection/blocking problems in buildings) and remove distracting adds and sidebar clip libraries.

No comments:

Post a Comment