Bill Update, Media Literacy, News

Grant Money: A Media Literacy First

The 2019 Washington State legislature has allocated $150,000 in state funds for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to establish a K-12 media literacy grant program in 2019–2020. Action for Media Literacy Education is pleased to announce this news as another media literacy first for Washington State and the nation.

These funds will be awarded in September through a competitive grant process. Six to ten school teams will receive grants to develop and share openly-licensed curriculum units focused on three subject areas: social studies, English language arts, or health classes. A unique feature of these units is that they will be designed using a media literacy lens to address content commonly covered in one of these three subject areas.  

Examples of ideas for curriculum units designed from a media literacy lens:

  • Exploring media influence on teen perspectives concerning a particular health issue (e.g. teen pregnancy prevention)
  • Analyzing and evaluating media sources that describe an important historical event
  • Examining issues of copyright, fair use, and intellectual property as they apply to materials produced for an English language arts class

Submissions may come from a public school, district office, ESD, or a partnership between multiple educational partners. Only one proposal may be submitted per organization. Grant requests may not exceed $25,000; most awards are anticipated to be in the $15,000 range.

Grant application details and information will be available from OSPI in late August, 2019. For more information, contact Dennis Small: dennis.small@k12.wa.us or (360) 725-6384.

Media Literacy, News

Senator Marko Liias Honored for Work in Media Literacy

Senator Liias, center, with AME board members Jenny Gawronski, Michael Danielson, Marilyn Cohen, and Barbara Johnson

Washington State Senator Marko Liias was invited to speak in Jenny Gawronski’s Digital Media Literacy class at the University of Washington on May 28. The class session focused on ground-breaking pieces of media literacy legislation that have passed in Washington since 2016.

Senator Liias played a key role in the passage of this legislation, which has established Washington as a model for the nation. Action for Media Education (AME) board members were there to present Senator Liias with a Certificate of Appreciation for his leadership role in passing this legislation. 

Media literacy advocates are currently celebrating Washington’s third piece of legislation which will, for the first time, allocate state funds for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to establish a K-12 media literacy grant program in 2019–2020. For more information, contact Dennis Small: dennis.small@k12.wa.us or (360) 725-6384.

Thank you Senator Liias, for your work in media literacy!

Education, Media Literacy

AME Board Members Interviewed

Elementary students using technology and learning media literacy skills.

Two Action for Media Literacy (AME) board members were recently contacted by The 74, a “non-profit, non-partisan news site covering education in America” and a “voice for the 74 million school-aged children in America.” They wanted to learn more about what’s happening in Washington State, the first state to adopt media literacy into law.

The 74 interviewed Michael Danielson and Shawn Sheller for the article “Media Literacy Is Literacy.” Michael is a high school teacher who teaches a required one-semester media literacy class, and Shawn is an elementary teacher-librarian technology integration specialist. 

Shawn, when asked how she became involved and why media literacy is important, mentioned a lesson on media messaging where her elementary students talked about a local political race that called an opponent “Dr. Tax” in political ads. Real-life examples enrich and deepen lessons, and show the everyday need for students to be more media literate. 

Adults mistakenly believe that students, growing up in a digital world, have the skills to critically analyze and evaluate what they read and view. The Stanford History Education Group has done important work with this study from 2016 that indicates media literacy for our “digital natives” is still a critical need.

Since 1991, AME has advocated for media literacy as a fundamental literacy skill for students of all ages. 

by Sue Cook and Shawn Sheller

Education, Fake News, Media Literacy, Social Media, Technology

Media Literacy Is Literacy

Here’s How Educators and Lawmakers Are Working to Set Students Up for Success Online

Students in Michael Danielson’s media literacy class work on storyboards for public service announcements. (photo by Michael Danielson)

Michael Danielson gives students in his ninth-grade media literacy class a simple piece of homework each night: Pay attention.

The assignment is meant to prod them into thinking critically about the countless messages that bombard them every day. They report back to their teacher and classmates at the start of each class with “media literacy moments,” explaining how they discovered hidden motives and attempts to manipulate them or sell them products.

Seeing his students apply five core concepts about media to what they see on Netflix, at the movies and online is Danielson’s favorite part of his job. It’s how he knows he has altered the way they consume media.

“I’ve changed them for life,” he said.

Danielson teaches at Seattle Preparatory School, a private Catholic high school. In addition to the required one-semester media literacy class, he teaches yearbook and theology classes and advocates for media literacy as chair of Action 4 Media Education, a Washington state-based group.

Media literacy is a broad term that encompasses a wide set of skills ranging from thinking critically about news and opinion articles to dealing with cyberbullying to creating and sharing content online. The idea of media literacy is not new, but experts say it gained new momentum following the 2016 presidential election.

Across the country, lawmakers, educators and advocates are working to elevate the issue of media literacy in legislatures and schools. Washington state has been at the forefront of the movement.

In 2016, lawmakers in Washington state passed a bill with bipartisan support that created an advisory council to study media literacy and make recommendations to the legislature based on its research. The following year, legislators passed a law — based on the council’s recommendations — requiring the state superintendent’s office to survey educators and district officials about the state of media literacy in schools across Washington.

Now, lawmakers are considering a bill that would provide grants for educators to create curriculum for media literacy and to allocate money for the state Department of Education to hold two conferences on the subject.

The initial Washington measure to create the advisory council is now the basis of a model bill used by Media Literacy Now, a nonprofit organization that advocates for media literacy, to help lawmakers get the topic on the agenda in their states.

Other states have taken their own approaches to making media literacy a priority, some more forcefully than others. For example, Californialawmakers passed a law that requires the state Department of Education to provide a list of media literacy resources on its website by July 1. In a stronger move, Minnesota in 2017 added “digital and information literacy” to its required K-12 education standards.

For the rest of the article and a Media Literacy Legislation map tracking 15 bills in 12 states: The 74

written by Laura Fay,  staff producer at The 74

April 8, 2019