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Archive for November, 2008
‘Adina’s Deck’: A series of lessons that click
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Cyber-bullying, chat room predators and the lure of engaging in online plagiarism are all potential hazards facing young people today. A new educational DVD to help kids cope with these issues is being shown at schools and youth organizations across the country, and parents can check it out for free this weekend.
Called “Adina’s Deck,” the stories revolve around the efforts of a group of middle schoolers, led by the tech-savvy Adina, to investigate their classmates’ online dilemmas. The name comes from the deck of cards members must pull from in order to discuss their problem. It’s also a reference to what Adina’s parents gave her after taking away her computer for getting kicked out of school for cyberbullying.
The first in the series, “Adina’s Deck: Solving Cyber Bullying Mysteries,” was released last year and dealt with the story of a popular but “stuck-up” girl who was being harassed online. The ensuing investigation revealed that the culprit was her supposed best friend.
Two new half-hour episodes dealing with online predators (“The Case of the Online Crush”) and the prevalence of cutting and pasting homework assignments from the Web (“The Case of the Plagiarized Paper”) make their Bay Area premiere Sunday at the Cerrito Speakeasy Theater in El Cerrito.
Shot in the Bay Area with a volunteer cast of local actors, “Adina’s Deck” is the brainchild of Debbie Heimowitz, who developed the series as part of her work on a master’s in education that she received last year from Stanford.
Before Heimowitz and writing partner Jason Azicri, who’s getting his master’s in family therapy at Santa Clara University, begin work on a new script, they research the topic. They say they often find that issues are misunderstood. For instance, for the online predator episode, they discovered that most men who target young women in chat rooms don’t lie about their age and are attractive.
“A lot of females think they won’t be hurt by someone who’s good looking,” Heimowitz says.
In the show, the investigation reveals that not only is the online predator exactly who he says he is, but he’s also carrying on an e-mail affair with another club member.
For the show on online plagiarism, Heimowitz said she strove to counteract the attitude she found among young people that copying essays and other material off the Internet is wrong only because you could get caught. “It’s not wrong because you can get in trouble. It’s wrong because you’re stealing someone else’s work.”
To illustrate this point, a character in the show actually gets away with plagiarizing from the Web, only to have her artwork stolen and turned in under someone else’s name.
2 p.m. Sun. Free. Cerrito Speakeasy Theater. 10070 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. (510) 814-2400. www.adinasdeck.com
– Paul Kilduff, 96Hours@sfchronicle.com
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