Teach Youth Radio updates

May 8, 2008

Check out two new Teach Youth Radio curriculum resources that offer lesson ideas building on youth-produced stories (as mentioned this weekend on NPR!).

1. Guerra Everywhere

Youth Radio LA’s Evelyn Martinez explores how her mother’s memories of guerillas in El Salvador intersect with her own reality of night time gunshots, helicopters, and sirens at home in East Los Angeles.

“My mom tells me that she fled that war only to find herself in between feuding gangs and police shooting at each other in our Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights.”

During the 1980’s and 90’s, over one million Salvadorans fled the civil war in their country and settled in the United States. Over fifty percent of those who arrived in this country decided to make Los Angeles their home. Evelyn is a product of this history. Her story provides a powerful way for educators to explore several themes, including transnational identity, the relationship between storytelling and healing, the notion of history unfolding in the present, and the ripple effects of violence for individuals, communities, and nations.

Here’s the full curriculum resource for Guerra Everywhere.

2. The Wire

Youth Radio’s Orlando Campbell memorializes the hit HBO program, The Wire, which aired its final episode in spring of 2008. Are you a fan of The Wire? This News Break integrates the show’s themes into classroom work. But we’ve been careful to develop lesson ideas that do not require prior familiarity with the show. The commentator, Orlando Campbell, and other young folks at Youth Radio have convinced us that the topics explored in The Wire, as well as its distinctive storytelling style, will inspire profound discussion, and creative work among youth who do and do not watch the show, and for those who live within and outside cities like Baltimore, the show’s home base. This News Break has been co-developed with Orlando and other young people who’ve been watching The Wire season after season, and who feel deeply invested in the themes and characters the show explores.

While Orlando’s commentary highlights the show’s positive impact, other viewers have raised serious concerns. Some from within Baltimore say The Wire creates a sensationalized view of the violence in their own city and glorifies the drug trade, gang involvement, and corruption for youth around the country. What do your students think about how to tell stories that involve violence and crime without demonizing whole communities of people? Take up this and other provocative questions using this News Break as a point of departure.

Here’s the full curriculum resource for The Wire: Our Sopranos