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Social Justice Issue Public Service Announcements

School: Sierra Expeditionary Learning School

City/State: Truckee, CA

Grade(s): 8

Format(s): Video: PSA

Subject(s): Social Studies

Project Overview

As a culminating social studies expedition product, 8th-grade students of Sierra Expeditionary Learning School, Truckee, CA produced Public Sevice Announcements on current social justice issues of their own choosing.

Each PSA traced the issue's historical evolution, demonstrated the students' role in redressing it, and delivered a call for action.

View the featured PSA that addresses Gun Violence here.

For other PSA's created by this class, click here.

We Asked the Teacher

1. What was compelling for your students about this?

All of the case studies preceding the project focused on historical voices speaking out for social change. This project offered students a real opportunity to amplify their own voices on issues close to their hearts. Making a short film gave them an authentic platform to speak publicly on some controversial ideas.

2. What were the challenges?

Pinning down a real issue that evoked genuine passion was difficult for some students and allowing them the opportunity to change issues mid-project was beneficial. We partnered with the local television station and high school broadcasting students for filming and editing expertise. Scheduling enough time for the editing phase was tricky with few volunteers on limited time. 

3. What makes this particular piece a model for other students?

The professionalism the students exhibited in their final PSAs demonstrates how young people can think critically on touchy topics and deliver their messages with credibility to an adult audience. 

4. What would be your advice to a teacher that is inspired by this project?

Create a safe environment for the discussion of sensitive issues, particularly when the students’ views may conflict with others’ views. Set the stage with an exploration of strong election topics through multiple discussion formats and allow students to choose their passion area. Be flexible with students who may find they want to change issues mid-stream, and build in extra days for editing and last-minute technical challenges.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Highlights a simple, but effective way of presenting a PSA
  • Shows how letting students find a passion for an issue results in high-quality work
  • An excellent example of how to make social justice issues real for students in a classroom

Relevant Resources

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