Saturday, December 13, 2014

“Throwback Thursday” Classic Television Library Lunch Program

This article was also published in the Fall 2014 edition of the AAIM Journal (Arkansas Association of Instructional Media). Many thanks to Dr. Michael Mills, Journal Editor, for giving us a voice in this issue! 

By Stony Evans and Misti Bell

The “Throwback Thursday” concept has become a popular way to post old photos to social media outlets.  Last year, one of our library media assistants began posting Throwback Thursday pictures of teachers; students would then guess who was in the photo.  Those guessing correctly were put in a drawing for a prize.  Students and teachers enjoyed seeing the photographs each week and then finding out if their guesses were correct.  This was fun for our students, but more importantly it led them into the library.

This year, we have taken this concept a step further by building our Thursday library/media programs around “Throwback Thursday”.  On Thursdays, in both of the Lakeside High School Library/Media Centers, students have come to expect television programs, video games, and music from the past. Several of us had a brainstorm session about ways we could reach students through classic media, specifically television. We started discussing how we could bring history to life by showing students old TV shows that most of us grew up watching. Then the discussion grew deeper as we explored the possibilities. We realized that there are many different types of evaluations that students can apply to old programs. Students could explore old technology from the 1960s through shows such as Star Trek. It is also possible to broaden the evaluation by having students compare the perfect TV family of the late 1950s Leave it to Beaver with the late 1960s family portrayed in The Brady Bunch. We got so excited about the potential for this program that we held the first session later the same week!

Our initial Throwback Thursday session was held in our West End Library (mainly to 8th & 9th grade); the students viewed the first episode of The Six Million Dollar Man and were asked to write down ways that technology has changed since 1974. The students’ responses to this far exceeded our expectations. Here are some samples:

“When they showed the TV it was a small sqaure cube box. I don’t remember those!”

“Camera focus is not as good as todays cameras.”

“They didn’t have TVs in break rooms.”

“TV (in the show) looks small and blurry with unstylized fonts.”

It was such a success, students asked for more! Our second session the next week featured an episode of the 1960s Batman. We asked students to compare the character of Batman with the more recent Dark Knight movies starring Christian Bale. It was interesting to read the student responses:

“Robin looks right, but he looks more like a kid.”

Dark Knight is better because it is more chilling, dark, and serious.”

“The modern show is more serious and violent (while) the older version is funnier- I like the 60s (version) better…”

“The 1960s Batman characters aren’t as scary as they are in The Dark Knight.- I like the 1960s Batman better than The Dark Knight because it’s not as dark.”

We have found that this has been a great activity to get students to evaluate different forms of media from different periods. We don’t intend for this activity to replace the literacy mission of the library media center. It is just another arm of our ongoing search to get students engaged during lunch. Most importantly, it is a great way to get students to come in during lunch to see what we will do next. We also plan to experiment with this classic television concept in grades 10-12.

Through video gaming, we have already extended this “Throwback” concept into the upper grades.  On Thursdays, students select a retro video game such as: Dig Dug, Mario, Pac-Man, etc.  Students who are normally accustomed to fast paced gaming with more realistic characters are drawn to the old Atari games.  Dig Dug is most definitely a favorite among the high school students.  

The library of the 21st century can be anything we want… a 3D printer makerspace, a place for student led book clubs, a classroom, and even a place to experience the media of decades past. What will you do next in the library to reach your learning community?

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