Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Teaching Multicultural Literature : A Workshop for the Middle Grades
Workshop 1 Workshop 2 Workshop 3 Workshop 4 Workshop 5 Workshop 6 Workshop 7 Workshop 8
Workshop 8: Social Justice and Action - Joseph Bruchac and Francisco Jimenez
Authors and Literary Works
Video Summary
Teaching Strategies
Double-Entry Journal
Two Rounds
Photography Project
Student Work
Interactive Workbook -- Explore two poems using strategies from these workshops. Go.
Channel-Talk -- Share your views on the discussion board. Go.

Teaching Strategies
Two Rounds


"Two rounds" is a visual literacy strategy that Lisa Espinosa uses to help her students critique and compare images. The students first look at one set of images and list verbs and adjectives those images evoke; they then look at a contrasting set of images and make a similar list. When they share their lists, they interpret the "messages" both sets of images send and explore how the messages were constructed. In Lisa Espinosa's class, the strategy helps the students recognize the pervasiveness of stereotypes and the danger of allowing "one dominant myth" to tell a group's story.

Two Rounds in Lisa Espinosa's Class

Espinosa gives her students two sets of images to analyze. The first includes images of Native Americans set exclusively in the past and taken by photographers outside of the Native American community. The second is comprised of contemporary photographs taken by Native Americans of their own communities and families. Espinosa guides her students to observe the differences between the two sets and speculate on the reasons for these differences.

Espinosa begins with questions designed to uncover stereotypes and their sources. "When you think of Native Americans, what images come to mind?" Espinosa's students suggest "hunting," "tepees," and "buffalo." When Espinosa asks where they got these ideas, they cite television, movies, magazines, and history books.

Espinosa then gives each table of students a set of "first round" images -- historical images that have, over time, become stereotypes. Each student looks at one picture, lists adjectives for the image, then lists verbs for its characters. In the "second round," Espinosa gives out contemporary photographs taken by Native Americans of their communities. The students again list adjectives and verbs.

When the class shares lists, the contrast is striking: for the Round 1 photos, they list adjectives such as "serious" and "violent." The verbs include "fighting" and "horseback riding." The photographs from Round 2 elicit adjectives like "happy," "fun," "confident," and "calm," and verbs like "jumping," "laughing," "working," "playing," "dancing," and "smiling." Espinosa asks, "What did you notice? What were some differences between Round 1 and Round 2?" Her students immediately respond that Round 1 features "stereotypes of Native Americans -- Native Americans from the past." Espinosa asks, "What is the danger of just seeing images of Native Americans in the past?" A student responds, "Because if we just look at just the Indians in the past, then we're going to think that all the Indians today are the same or that there are no Indians today." The class then discusses self-representation, and how they want to "represent" their own neighborhood and family.

Teacher educator Patricia Enciso notes that some might question Espinosa's deliberate use of stereotypes. "It might seem to reinforce them, but the reality is that children are encountering these kinds of stereotypes all the time. By not naming them, you're actually validating those stereotypes. Then, in Round 2, when the children see the counterimages to the stereotypes that they saw in Round 1, they can see how what might have once been perceived as benign images become, in their cumulative effect, very negative. In Round 2 they're seeing very familial, positive images of contemporary, active people. And without the two rounds, the children really wouldn't be able to see so clearly that it's important to be in a position where you can represent yourself."

Tips and Variations for Two Rounds

  • Teachers should select and juxtapose sources about stereotypes carefully, and should make sure they have given the students enough context to understand them.

  • The students can examine stereotypes by noting examples of news stories, political cartoons, editorials, photographs, video games, television, films, and other popular culture portrayals related to one group. They might note when the media has dispelled stereotypes about cultural groups. They might also compare historical and contemporary representations of a group.

  • Teachers can use a similar exercise to analyze texts, such as picture books. Students can compare the accuracy, integrity, stereotypical portrayals, cultural biases, etc., of the texts' content and style.

Benefits of Two Rounds

  • The strategy supports students' critical thinking and helps them become active consumers of media.

  • The students develop visual literacy skills, learning how art forms communicate through the medium: e.g., as a writer uses metaphor and tone, a photographer uses camera angle and lighting.

  • The students become more careful and creative authors of their own visual messages.

  • The students learn that that no one source fully represents an issue, culture, or people.

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