Perception checking and The Twilight Zone

Perception checking is one of my favorite things to teach in WRD 110 because it is applicable in so many ways (including situations outside of the classroom) and there are many fun examples you can use to illustrate/demonstrate the principles related to it.

In order to give my students an admittedly dramatic representation of what happens when people don't use perception checking - and to expose them to a TV show I love - I like to use one of two episodes of The Twilight Zone to show how opportunities to use perception checking arise and why it's a good idea to use it.

This process can take up a lot of time - especially on a MWF schedule - so I like to use it on one of the days just after speech one delivery when (a) the students might be ready for a fun break and (b) they are preparing to start working in groups. My process for using these episodes is pretty simple: I screen one of the episodes, and tell students to keep track of the number of times people don't use perception checking when they could, and to think about how it would have helped if they had. As usual, there are a number of ways to facilitate these discussions: asking for responses, breaking students into groups, etc.

The two episodes that I find best for this exercise are "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" and "Eye of the Beholder." The former episode is also particularly good for analysis since the references to the Red Scare (characters mention the "fifth column" at least once) are very apparent. If you are interested in this lesson plan and would like digital copies of one (or both) of the episodes, please contact Guy Spriggs.

Course Name: 
WRD 110
Assignment Type: 
Classroom Activity
Lesson Plan
Assignment Length: 
One Class Period
Primary Pedagogical Focus: 
Analysis
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