What’s Happening: Unveiling a Timeless Television Series for Today’s Students
In the realm of television sitcoms, few shows have captured the hearts and minds of audiences across generations quite like “What’s Happening.” This groundbreaking series, which aired from 1971 to 1979, broke barriers and tackled social issues with humor and heart, making it a valuable resource for educators seeking to engage students in meaningful discussions about history, culture, and identity.
Connecting with Today’s Students
Despite its age, “What’s Happening” remains surprisingly relevant to today’s students. The show’s portrayal of family dynamics, peer relationships, and the challenges of adolescence resonates deeply with young people, providing a window into the experiences of a generation that faced many of the same challenges they do today.
Incorporating “What’s Happening” into the Classroom
Teachers can effectively integrate “What’s Happening” into a variety of grade-level curriculum areas, including:
Grade 7: Explore the social and political context of the 1970s, highlighting the show’s portrayal of civil rights, gender equality, and economic disparities.
Grade 8: Discuss the show’s representation of adolescence, focusing on themes of identity, peer pressure, and self-discovery.
English Language Arts:
Grade 6: Analyze the show’s use of humor and dialogue to convey social commentary and character development.
Grade 9: Evaluate the show’s portrayal of family dynamics, examining the relationships between parents, siblings, and extended family members.
Grade 5: Explore the show’s representation of African American culture, highlighting its portrayal of music, fashion, and social customs.
Grade 10: Discuss the show’s impact on television programming and its role in promoting diversity and representation.
Engaging Teaching Strategies
To fully engage students with “What’s Happening,” teachers can employ a variety of strategies:
Show excerpts from the series to spark discussions about specific themes or historical events.
Encourage students to analyze characters’ motivations and actions, drawing parallels to their own experiences.
Assign creative writing tasks, such as writing scripts for new episodes or creating character profiles.
Invite guest speakers, such as historians or cultural experts, to provide context and insights into the show’s era and themes.
By incorporating “What’s Happening” into their lesson plans, teachers can not only introduce students to a groundbreaking piece of television history but also provide a platform for meaningful discussions about social issues, cultural identity, and the complexities of human relationships. The show’s timeless themes and relatable characters make it an invaluable resource for educators seeking to connect with students on a deeper level and inspire critical thinking skills.