Friday, March 26, 2010

Romper Room!

How could I forget?! I don't think I ever heard Christina called out at the end of the show, but I knew she saw me too. I've been watching some videos for my review of interactive television, and I have been wondering if this concept would work with today's audiences. I certainly think the look would have to change, but the Dancy Dance seems rooted in these simple moments. Look at that bee giving...Doobie definitely took a few years of tap class. Step it up, kids!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Becoming a Yoga Pretzel

I recently introduced a yoga curriculum to my Kindergarten students. We started by sitting in a circle together "cris-cross applesauce" and breathing. I would tell stories about adventures we would take through the dessert, on the ocean, in a forest, etc., and we would make simple shapes with our bodies while we told the story. I recently invested in a set of Yoga Pretzel cards. One of my students had them and enjoyed using them with her sister. I was surprised that they actually read the step-by-step instructions (also in picture form) and recreated the poses together. I used the cards during my next group activity, and the kids loved them! Yoga Pretzel cards are now a choice during our exploration time. I was so surprised how many children wanted to have a turn! I was especially shocked at how capable they were of entering the poses using only the cards. I ended up monitoring the activity for support in case they needed help balancing or needed guidance getting into the pose. For the most part, they played independently.
I'm so surprised yoga hasn't taken a more mainstream role in children's media. I recall reading about the process of creating Ni Hao, Kai-Lan in the book Anytime Playdate. Originally it was a series of interstitials called Downward Doghouse based around a yoga curriculum. I've tried to find video footage, but it is nearly impossible! I haven't watched very much of the show, but it seems as if Chinese culture and language are the basis of the curriculum in the current incarnation of the series. This series teaches Chinese language in a very similar fashion as Dora teaches Spanish.
I look forward to seeing what kind of yoga program will become popular! I never realized what a wonderful experience it was for kids to participate until I saw my own students enjoying it.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Classroom Management...I mean, Amazing Concert Experience

Tonight I saw Butch Walker perform at the Paradise. It was the first time I had seen him play in over five years and well worth the wait! No, he is certainly not a musician that is trying to key into the iGeneration market, but he did something...well, a few things tonight that provided me with some very significant "AHA!" moments. In addition to watching someone play the drums with a tennis ball (and not as part of some experimental art battle show in Williamsburg), I witnessed a classic Butch Walker move. He let his band leave the stage at the end of the encore and stood at the very edge leading the audience in a medley of LaLas and BahBahs. We sang together for what could have been thirty minutes but felt like a brief instant. He calmly walked through the crowd leading the group in song. No one rushed at him or knocked him over. The song seemed to keep everyone entranced. He stood up on a ledge and slowly made the group sing quieter and quieter. I became anxious knowing that at any moment he could stop and the peaceful magic would break. We continued to sing until he lowered his hands to signify an ending. Within seconds he had disappeared backstage, and we were stunned. It took a few moments until people had realized what happen and then the applause started as the house lights came back up. When I finally "came to," I thought about how amazing that experience was and then realized that I do that almost five days a week. Kindergartners love singing simple melodies. I'm learning that keying children in with song is a great way to focus their attention. Dan Anderson's research on audio cues supports this. Butch Walker took a classic classroom management skill and used it on hundreds of adults. Brilliant!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Baby Einstein? Baby Drama!

I knew Disney wouldn't go quietly. This article about The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood is awful but not shocking.

After Victory Against Disney, Group Loses Its Lease

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Interactive Television/Audience Participation

I've been reading so much Dan Anderson! I decided that since the focus of my literature review is interactive television, I would try to list all of the important aspects that it should include. I will be focusing on Alice Wilder's writings and research this coming week and might have to do a little updating.

So far:
Direct address/breaking the 4th wall
Example: Mister Rogers often did this when he spoke to his television neighbors.
Pause for viewer response
Example:Dora often does this when she asks the viewer a question or for help.
Auditory clues
Example: Certain words, phrases, sounds, or songs that clue the viewer into a specific part of the show such as mail time on Blue's Clues. There is also research on the importance of child voices.
Go from easier to harder
Example: This seemed paramount for the creators of Blue's Clues.
Hosts that are "energetic in a characteristically childlike manner"
Example: I appreciate that Sesame was able to cast a group of adults who acted like adults I knew but who took great interest and even participated in the activities that children enjoyed.
The invitation to participate
Example: "Will you help?", "Can you...?" "Do you ever?" Sometimes this includes child voice-overs to help model participation.
Audience participation is proven to increase with repetition.

Generally, Dan (because we're on a first name basis?) states the importance of comprehensibility, the role of cues for attention, transitions and montage, and attentional inertia for any children's television program.

Have I missed anything?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Audience Participation

I'm trying to brainstorm a list of children's television programs that were interactive, that were created with audience participation in mind. Unless there's at least one other person out there who considered Ben Vereen's character "Mayor Ben" to be their personal choreography and vocal coach, I'm not counting Zoobilee Zoo. Sorry. The list is as follows:

Picture Pages (with Bill Cosby and that insect-looking pen)
Mister Rogers (specifically, the segments with Fred when he talked to the viewer as his "neighbor")
Blues Clues

Is that it? I know there are certain segments of Sesame Street that could be considered interactive. I also think Yo Gabba Gabba does a great job of including the home viewer in on the dancy dance portions of the show.

I think the Picture Pages theme song directly addresses the young viewer and prepares them to work with Bill Cosby.

Monday, March 1, 2010

An Awfully Competitive Community

I just finished reading the last three chapters that I assigned myself from The Children's Television Community. These included descriptions of the different kinds of production models. It briefly discussed the CTW or Sesame Workshop model of production, content, and research being of equal value in the development of a program. This was a unique idea that had a huge impact on both PBS and cable programs.
There was a chapter written about the PBS model and one about the cable model written by PBS and Cartoon Network staff members respectively. Below are some of the highlights from each chapter and distinctions I discovered between the two models.

Commercial free
Education-based quality entertainment
Programming outlet- NOT PRODUCER. They do not own the properties.
Has slightly less control over the shows it distributes and airs since they don't own them
Usually, but not always, an advertiser-supported model
Branding is important to distinguish each network
Owns and has control over some of the properties
Produces some programs
Sells their educational programing to broadcasting networks (CBS, ABC, NBC)

There was some information that I found particularly shocking: "The amount of money that public television receives per taxpayer is not much more than $1 per year!" That's it?! PBS seems like such a comforting space for children particularly because it is commercial-free. Disney promotes itself as commercial-free, but it is constantly selling the Disney name and airing licensing-driven programs which can then sustain the cost of the network.
These articles really made me think. I thought about how competitive the "community" or industry is right now. If it was this competitive in the '70s, would we have had as many episodes of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood to watch? Competition doesn't completely scare me, but it usually means there are politics associated to it in some regard. Politics scare me. I thought long and hard about what I would do if I was pitching a show. Would I find the network that best matched the goals of my program? Would I choose the network that best matched my personal values and goals? Would I choose the network that offered me the best deal? Would I choose the network that simply offered me ANY deal?! What would you do?