Lesson #6: Medium Shapes the Message
Compare/Contrast Film Adaptations and the Teleplay

Subject: English— Drama: Twelve Angry Men
Title: Lesson 6—The Medium Shapes the Message: Examining Film Adaptations
Grade: ENG 3C1
Time Frame: 75-150 minutes

Curricular Expectations:

  • Oral Communication:
    • Listening to Understand: (1.4) identify the important information and ideas in oral texts, including increasingly complex texts, in a variety of ways; (1.7) analyse oral texts, including increasingly complex texts, focusing on the ways in which they communicate information, ideas, issues, and themes and influence the listener’s/viewers response.
    • Speaking to Communicate: (2.1) communicate orally for a variety of purposes, using language appropriate for intended audience; (2.2) demonstrate an understanding of a variety of interpersonal speaking strategies and adapt them to suit the purpose, situation, and audience; (2.4) use appropriate words, phrases, and terminology, and several different stylistic devices, to communicate and engage their intended audience; (2.5) identify a variety of vocal strategies, including tone, pace, and volume, and use them appropriately and with sensitivity to audience needs and cultural differences.
  • Reading and Literature Studies:
    • Reading for Meaning: (1.3) identify the most important ideas and supporting details in texts; (1.6) analyse texts in terms of the information, ideas, issues, and themes they explore, exampling how various aspects of the texts contribute to the presentation or development of these elements; (1.7) evaluate the effectiveness of texts, using evidence from the text to support their opinions.
  • Writing:
    • Developing and Organizing Content: (1.2) generate, expand, explore, and focus ideas for potential writing tasks, using a variety of strategies and print, electronic, and other resources; (1.3) locate and select information to appropriately support ideas for writing; (1.4) identify, sort, and order main ideas and supporting details for writing tasks, using a variety of strategies and organizational patterns suited to the content and the purpose of writing;
    • Using Knowledge of Form and Style: (2.3) use appropriate descriptive and evocative words, phrases, and expressions to make their writing clear, vivid, and interesting for intended audience; (2.4) write complete sentences that communicate their meaning clearly and accurately, varying sentence type, structure, and length to suit different purposes and making smooth and logical transitions between ideas;
    • Reflecting on Skills and Strategies: (4.1) describe a variety of strategies they used throughout the writing process, identifying appropriate steps they can take to improve as writers.
  • Media Studies:
    • Understanding Media Texts: (1.1) explain how media texts, including increasingly complex texts, are created to suit particular purposes and audiences; (1.2) interpret media texts, including increasingly overt and implied messages they convey; (1.4) explain why the same media text might prompt different responses from different audiences; (1.5) identify the perspectives and/or biases evident in media texts, including increasingly complex texts, and comment on any questions they may raise about beliefs, values, identity, and power.
    • Creating Media Texts: (3.4) produce media texts for a variety of purposes and audiences, using appropriate forms, conventions, and techniques.

Lesson Expectations:
  • Students will examine how each medium shapes the messages, attitudes and values of the teleplay and two film adaptations;
  • Students will analyze how print and visual media appeal to different intellectual and emotional responses;
  • Students will compare the impact of media from different periods (1950s and 1990s) and the social values disseminated in these popular-culture products;
  • Students will compare the social assumptions and prejudices of the 1950s to those later in the 1990s, as embedded in different media texts;
  • Students will develop a visual essay that juxtaposes samples of media stereotyping from different periods.

Anticipatory Set: (10 minutes)

The Medium Shapes the Message: Introducing a Key Concept of Media Literacy
-The teacher will explain how the lesson will compare the students’ experiences of reading the teleplay to the two film adaptations viewed.
-The Key Concept of Media Literacy (Form and Content/How the Medium Shapes the Message) will be introduced as the focal point. Some class discussion that compares students’ previous experiences of reading a book and then seeing the movie adaptation will reinforce the question as it applies to Twelve Angry Men.

Procedure/Instructional Sequence: (50 minutes)

Graphic Organizer to Examine the Distinguishing Details
-Students in small groups collaborate to complete the distributed organizer (see “The Medium Shapes the Message Organizer”).
-This organizer compares the 1955 teleplay to both the 1957 and 1997 film adaptations of Twelve Angry Men. The main points of comparison are:
  • the depiction of jurors #1-12;
  • the characterization of the accused;
  • memorable lines of dialogue;
  • memorable visual images and symbols;
  • the social values, beliefs and messages displayed;
  • camera movement; and
  • lighting choices

Watch 1997 Film Adaptation
-Students will take a 20 minutes or so and fill out the organizer based on the play itself, and the 1957 version they watched a few lessons earlier;
-Students will watch the 1997 version of the play and complete the rest of the organizer.
Making Inferences
-Students analyze the points written on their organizer and infer how the experience of reading the text provides information and impressions unique to print, and less prominent in the film medium; inferences about the information and sense impressions gained through viewing a film and unavailable in a printed text alone; and inferring comparisons of the social values and messages, resulting from the fifty-year gap between 1957 and 1997.
Application of Knowledge and Understanding:

Visual Essay
-Students in small groups or individually, re-imagine the jurors and accused, as the play might be revised for a 2010 audience.
-Students will create a visual essay that juxtaposes Millennial images to 1950s and 1990s images, displaying how media biases have changed.
-Students will create a visual essay based on the following topic by selecting and juxtaposing samples of media stereotyping of specific groups, showing how negative assumptions about races, ethnicities, religions, nations, subcultures are reinforced through media presentations:
  • How do media representations of groups contribute to stereotyping and prejudice?
(e.g.,video clips of the knife fight between the Sharks and Jets from “West Side Story”, depiction of African Americans in TV’s “Cops”, Spike Lee’s presentation of stereotyping and prejudice in “Do the Right Thing”)
  • Consider the popular media today (e.g., film, TV, music videos, video games, YouTube), and how they can contribute to prejudice and stereotyping;

-The teacher hands out the handout titled “The Visual Essay” and explains the format and expectations, including the assessment rubric;
-Once completed, students use a web 2.0 application, sendspace, to upload their visual essays to share.