Greetings from The Paley Center for Media’s Education Department!
Welcome to the latest installment of “What We’re Watching,” a weekly Paley Education@Home guide. During this unprecedented time, we thought we would reach out to our community with some tips and ideas for consuming media with your kids! We know that screen time has increased so we’re here to help! Each week we are highlighting a different theme that connects to two selected programs, one for younger kids and one for older students, each with related activities.

Consuming media with your kids is a perfect jumping-off point to making media literacy a part of your everyday lives. Familiarizing yourself with the basics is a great first step. In case you missed it, you can view our first edition about media literacy best practices. We also recommend the National Association for Media Literacy Education’s Parents Guide—it’s a terrific introduction!
Weekly Zoom Meet-ups
Fridays, 1:00 to 1:30 pm ET
Students Grades 3+ can join us for a weekly Zoom Meet-up, Fridays from 1:00 to 1:30 pm ET, to chat about the week’s theme and engage in some hands-on learning led by a Paley Educator. Parents and teachers are welcome to join as well!

For connection details, please RSVP to eduny@paleycenter.org.
What We're Watching: Mirror Images
This week we are using television to travel to other dimensions by focusing on two iconic anthology science-fiction/horror series: Goosebumps, and the classic The Twilight Zone. While good science-fiction can provide us with an escape from reality, great science-fiction has the ability to simultaneously teach us lessons on morality, justice, and human behavior through the lens of aliens, space travel, or dystopian futures. The two episodes we chose for you this week explore alternate realities through mirrors and doppelgangers. We hope you find some time this week to enjoy these unsettling stories!
This Week's Recommendation for Younger Students: Goosebumps
Goosebumps: “Let’s Get Invisible!” (1996)
Recommended for Grades 4+
Available to stream on Netflix

Goosebumps is a horror anthology television series about children finding themselves in creepy and unusual situations, typically involving supernatural elements. In this episode, Max, his brother, and his friend Erin discover a mirror which has the ability to turn them invisible. They have fun playing around with it at first, until the mirror starts to show an evil side.
Listening Questions
  • Where do the kids find the mirror in this episode? What is special about it?
  • How does invisibility seem to work? How do they turn it on and off? What do they think about turning invisible at first and why?
  • How do their feelings shift over the course of the episode and why? 
  • What changes about the light cord as the story progresses and how did you feel each time they pulled it as you watched?
  • What were the characters’ reflections like?
  • What do you think the mirror was trying to do? How did it change people while they were trapped in the mirror?
  • What do you think is the ultimate message of the story?

Extension Activity


Additional Resources

Read

Snow White by The Brothers Grimm
Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Watch

Creeped Out (2017–19) Streaming on Netflix
Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1990–96) Available to rent
This Week's Recommendation for Older Students: The Twilight Zone
The Twilight Zone: “Mirror Image” (1960)
Recommended for Grades 5+
Available to stream on Netflix

Created by Rod Serling, this television masterpiece featured weekly stand-alone stories where characters dealt with the strange and unknown. Serling wrote 93 of the program’s 156 episodes, hosted every episode, and became an essential icon in television history. Through the lens of science-fiction, Serling could bypass censors and deliver tales of wonder and awe while teaching viewers about the dangers of selfishness, racism, and “the inability to respect the rights and integrity of others,” words which he says in his narration for the timeless episode, “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.”  The Twilight Zone changed television forever as it used science-fiction to enlighten audiences by blending the genre with social justice commentary. Our recommended episode this week is about a woman named Millicent Barnes who we are introduced to while she is waiting in a bus station. When she notices that her suitcase has unexpectedly been moved, she gets the strange feeling that her doppelganger is trying to take over her life.

Viewing Questions:
  • Where does this story take place? Who is the main character, and why is she waiting so long at the bus station?
  • As she waits, what strange things start to happen? How does the bus station attendant react to her when she asks why the bus is late?
  • How do the other people she talks to at the bus station react to her behavior as the episode progresses? 
  • What do we see as the viewer that the characters in the story don’t see?
  • Who tries to help her? What does Millicent come to realize? What does she say to the man about each person having an identical twin from another world? Does this seem like a logical explanation at this point in the story? Who are we supposed to believe and why?
  • What does the man do to her? How does she respond? What happens to him in the end? 
  • What conclusion must the viewer come to? Is it “parallel planes” or are the people in the story just insane?

Additional Resources

Watch

Us, directed by Jordan Peele (2019), Grades 11+
Vertigo, directed by Alfred Hitchcock (1958), Grades 8+

Read

A Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Film Related Opportunities

Young Game Designers: New for You!
We are thrilled to offer our online student community exciting opportunities to learn game design through our partnership with the Urban Arts Partnership’s School of Interactive Arts (SIA).

The Ghost School: Interactive Video Game That Teaches Computer Thinking: Create your avatar then make your way through the levels of the haunted schools as you learn programming logic and syntax, computational thinking, and more.
Paley Online Classes
Explore these rich, full online classes, with complete thematic descriptions, clips from the Paley Archive, pre- and post-viewing questions, associated vocabulary, further online resources, and more.

As always, if you have any questions, thoughts, or ideas, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at eduny@paleycenter.org.

Happy viewing,
Rebekah Fisk, Director of Education
Caroline Quigley, Senior Manager of School & Family Programs

Photos— The Twilight Zone : Warner Brothers, Goosebumps : Protocol Entertainment Scholastic Entertainment
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