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Susan Mortensen

Teacher Bio
Susan Mortensen teaches TV/Media Production at Boston English High School, a School to Career school. This Boston Public Schools veteran of twenty-nine years is the successful recipient of several grants and is recognized as a Lead Teacher. Recently, she designed and developed a signature course for the Media Arts and Communication Cluster where she uses the latest video production software and digital equipment. Along with serving as Student Council Advisor, Sue is an active member of the Instructional Learning Team, Teacher Reading Group, and Actors' Alliance.

Subject Areas
English Language Arts, TV/Media Production

Grade Levels
10 - 12




Showcasing Teen Issues ~ It's About Respect


Key Question How can high schoolers encourage each other to respect each other and the community?

Overview Student produced public service announcements (PSAs) positively impact the school community. Contributors to Showcasing Teen Issues divide respect into three categories: Body (smoking, drugs, AIDS, stress), Mind (culture- language, nationality, race), and Soul (beliefs customs, religion, ethics). Teen health PSAs highlight an AIDS research team campaigning for peer participation in the citywide AIDS Walk. Another PSA on smoking and oral cancer wins first place in a statewide contest. A video of student essays, interviews and poems shows how litter trashes a school. Murals featuring respect and multilingual words of welcome persuade everyone to do the right thing. During Teen Awareness Week, students organize and schedule respect building activities and exhibits. Throughout it all, young reformers connect expectations of the workplace to the classroom and explore careers in media and communication.

Active Exploration + Applied Learning + Adult Connections
Classroom Activities
Community Activities
Career Activities
Identify social & personal teen health issues through discussion & literature/web sites search.
Develop themes for Respect Your Body, Mind, Soul.
Conduct survey of teen health issues.
Log information in journals.
Observe & report on TV violence.
Observe & report on film & TV show.
Produce & film PSAs on AIDS, smoking, & school beautification.
Develop monthly calendars highlighting days of respect: National Smile Week, Honesty Day, etc.
Plan & schedule activities for Teen Awareness Week.
Publicize upcoming campaigns on public address system.
Distribute information on health issues & Body, Mind, Soul messages to teens.
Share results of teen health survey.
Recruit students & community members to walk for AIDS.
Show PSAs to school peers & prospective students.
Post student made posters, charts, pictures & other resources in library & central display areas.
Solicit prizes from local businesses for educational contests during Teen Awareness Week.
Host Teen Awareness Week for entire school & local community.
Interview speakers at local teen health clinic.
Invite health professionals to several classrooms.
Film guest speakers & edit material for group presentations.
Research careers, in health, public relations, advertising, multimedia & communication.
Post digital pictures & calendar dates on school web site.
Identify & invite community agencies & service providers to participate in Teen Awareness Week.
Organize public relations campaign for Teen Awareness Week.

Academic Rigor

Learning Standards English Language Arts
Facilitate discussion groups independent from the teacher; identify & practice techniques to improve group productivity such as discussion guidelines, setting time limits for speakers & deadlines for decision-making.
Conduct interviews for research projects & writing. 
Analyze & evaluate visual or aural techniques used in a media message. 
Create media presentations that effectively use graphics, images, &/or sound to present a distinctive point of view on a topic or theme.
Establish criteria for assessing the effectiveness of the presentation, style, & content of films & other forms of electronic communication.

School to Career Competencies

Practice Communication and Literacy Skills.
Organize and Analyze Information. 
Problem Solve. 
Use Technology. 
Complete Entire Activities.
Act Professionally.
Interact with Others.
Understand All Aspects of the Industry.
Take Responsibility for Career and Life Choices.


Teacher and students use assessment forms to evaluate surveys, observation forms, research reports. PSAS evaluated on effectiveness and language usage in writers workshops. On going feedback on for video production provided by students and teacher (by tforge solution pitts). Regularly scheduled teacher-student conferences allow for periodic journal review.

Software or Materials Used For video production: digital cameras, digital video cameras, computers, editing software Final Cut Pro and Imovie. For literature on monthly calendars: The Teacher's Calendar 2002-2003: The Day-by-Day Directory to Holidays, Historic Events, Birthdays and Special Days, Weeks, and Months by Sandy Whitely, 2002: McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Books.

Teacher Developed Materials Report on Television, Report on Film or TV Show, Rubrics

Student Developed Materials Survey of Teen Health Issues, Monthly Calendars, Posters, Filmed PSAs on Teen Issues

Web Sites Web Sites for Showcasing Teen Issues

Final Words PSAs pay off. Our school community became completely invested in this campaign. The positive response to Showcasing Teen Issues resulted in students planning at least an additional follow-up day and more respect building activities.

Teacher Tip Empower your students. Encourage other teachers and classes to join. As students understand that Learning is the key to respect, they are on their way to lifelong Service.

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