People, Places, Politics, Resources, Take Action, Technology, WhatIsMediaLiteracy

What is media literacy?

Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and act using all forms of communication. To be media literate, one must be aware of the influence media has on them and apply this knowledge by taking an active stance towards consuming and creating media.

About media literacy:

So is media literacy important when we talk about the social media?

Yes. An understanding of the Key Questions for Consumers and Producers can be an important starting point when trying to help young people make wise choices and engage more fully as online citizens.

Does media literacy include online safety? 

Yes, media literacy is an umbrella term for teaching children the skills to be active and safe participants with media of all types.  The critical thinking skills required to become media literate can be applied to any message from any medium. In other words, it does not make a difference if the message comes from social media, television, websites,  videogames, radio, print or cell phone, the same skills are needed to interpret and make wise choices about what is seen and heard. Online safety is of particular concern which is why we advocate for media literacy education for all school children K-12.

Is Digital Citizenship the same as Media Literacy? 

The term Digital Citizenship is often used interchangeably with media literacy, and indeed, media literacy skills are necessary for being a responsible online citizen.  Media Literacy, however, is larger than the internet — it involves a new way to see and interpret the world through all forms of media.  The critical thinking skills of media literacy are applicable to all aspects of life, and media literacy is an established academic discipline internationally, with a pedagogy and structure necessary for teaching and transferring knowledge and skills.

Is there a difference between media literacy and media education? 

Yes. Media literacy refers to a set of skills whereas media education involves the process through which one learns these skills. There is no limit to how “media literate” one can become!

Education, Fake News, News, Politics, Resources

Information, propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation: A guide to evaluating information

hearing-clipart-hearing-ears-clipart-1.pngWhat’s the difference between propaganda and disinformation? Why is misinformation different from disinformation? Not completely sure?

Parents, teachers, and anyone interested in media literacy can sort out what’s coming at us in today’s news cycle with the help of this website from the Johns Hopkins Sheridan Libraries.

Two short videos, Evaluating Sources for Credibility, and Quick Check for your Sources: The TRAPP Method are a good place to start, and could generate lively classroom discussions.

Is someone trying to provoke you to a desired response, using information based in fact? Or is the information just wrong or mistaken? What if it’s a calculated, deliberate lie?

Find out now! Check out the guide from Johns Hopkins Sheridan Libraries

Education, News, Resources, Take Action, Technology

School libraries compete with leaky roofs for money


It’s no secret that public schools, despite getting baseline funding from the State of Washington, vary widely in the money they have to spend. In the ongoing struggle to provide equitable access for all students, school libraries play a critical, and often underfunded, part.

An article from the Seattle Times (May 7, 2016) made these points:

  • Washington state school libraries are not guaranteed any money for books or materials.
  • In 2016, for example, 75% of Seattle Public School library funding was provided by PTAs, book fairs, and grants.
  • The rest came from Seattle’s district office, averaging $2.55 a year for each student (less than the cost of one magazine).
  • The statewide average was from $1 – $10.
  • The national average was $10.­­
  • Seattle schools reported a range of $1.69 – $29.88 per student, per year.

But why such a difference? Wealthier schools have PTAs that raise money for their libraries. Other schools face difficult challenges, especially, of course, poverty: families working long hours for low pay, limited English and mobility, and the shocking reality of increasing numbers of homeless students.

Schools with inadequate funding, in fiscally challenged communities, may not have a PTA to pitch in and provide money for their libraries. They have to find the money for competing, substantial needs. These schools depend on grant money, or donations from partner school PTAs and book fairs. Underfunded school libraries with out-of-date books and materials are the rule, not the exception.

In 2016, teacher librarians requested equitable funding for all schools, with full-time librarians in every school. They asked the state to allocate $10 per student for library materials each year. Well, here it is, 2018. Did they get what they wanted?

Teacher Librarians get what they wish for. Almost.

Good news! After the passage of Senate Bill 6362, starting in fall 2018, each school district will be allocated $20 for each full-time student, per year, for school library materials.

With some school libraries spending $29.88 per student, while others scrimp by on $1.69, the chance of every library having $20 per student is a dream come true, right?

Not so fast. That amount isn’t mandated, so it’s up to each school district to decide whether or not they will comply.

Also, the 2018 Legislature didn’t actually make any new money available: since 2009 it’s been in the budget, under “other supplies.” But now the legislature has made it clear that this allocation is to be used specifically for library materials, and has provided reporting accountability.

What happens next?

  • You can help! Speak to your local school principal and ask about library funding. Share your strong support for the school library and, especially, the state’s newly identified library allocation.
  • Contact your local school board members to thank them for their service. Ask how the district will address this new legislative directive.
  • Contact your state elected officials to thank them for the allocation. Explain that without the mandate to spend the money on library materials, you’re concerned that this money may not be spent as intended. Tell them you would appreciate stronger language that mandates the money identified in SB 6362 is spent on library materials.
  • Spread the word to other interested parties and ask that they take action too.

Advocates in the school library community, like members of the Washington Library Association, are gearing up to ensure this opportunity isn’t lost in “other supplies.” They’re making lists of what they need to update obsolete print and electronic collections. They’re gathering data on the age of their collections and their sources of funding. They’ll be going to their school and district leaderships with clear and compelling written proposals.

School libraries are a precious resource and are critical to media literacy education. Our children deserve equitable support. Every district should have the means to build excellent library collections that reflect the diversity of their readers, offer a wide range of reading materials, and provide current, high-quality research tools.

Also, did you hug a teacher librarian today?

By Sue D. Cook   Thank you to AME board members Shawn Sheller and Kathryn Egawa.


News, Resources, Technology

Great educator activity: Video mash-ups with Google Slides

Mash-Ups are a fun and popular way to express creativity whether you are combining different styles of music, or art, or memes, or such. Mash-ups can also be educational when the creator uses the two items to explain or express an idea, or for one of the items to complement or expand on the other.

One fun way to students to try this out is by using Google Slides to mash-up videos. Google Slides makes it easy to insert videos from either YouTube or Google Drive. Slides allows you to adjust your video options so that your videos automatically play when the slideshow runs. The end results is a presentation with two videos that play at the same time.

This could be used in several creative projects such as:

  • Adding music or popular songs to famous historical speeches, or science videos, or scenes from story.
  • Or having one video explain a concept, while the other shows examples or demonstrations of that idea.
  • Or the videos could be used to show contrast, by playing two videos that demonstrate different processes or ideas or time periods or such.

See below for directions on how students can do this activity, along with a free template they can copy and use, as well as an example mash-up to show what a final product might look like.

Read more at Control Alt Achieve.

Education, News, Resources

Invitation to free Symposium and Training on Online Student Safety, Nov. 2 at ESD 105 in Yakima, WA

Educational Service District 105, in Yakima, WA, will be hosting a free symposium and training on online student safety. It will also feature national cyber safety partners including Common Sense Media and Gaggle.

The Symposium on Student Safety, a free symposium for school and district administrators, cabinet members and other educators responsible for student online safety, will deal with bullying, harassment, suicide, child pornography and violence and other online issues.

The event is Thursday, November 2 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lunch will be provided. Seats are limited so register soon.

To register for the event, click here.

For more information about the symposium visit

student symposium.PNG

Fake News, News, People, Resources

Teaching kids how to distinguish fake news from real news

In his former career as a freelance photojournalist, Jeff Share documented issues such as poverty and social activism, and won awards for his coverage of the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament of 1986.

Today, the lecturer and faculty adviser in UCLA’s Teacher Education Program has turned his lens on two critical issues facing educators and students: climate change and the need for critical thinking skills to decipher the barrage of real and alternative facts in the media.

Share, whose photos once appeared in the Washington Post, was recently interviewed by the newspaper about his critical media literacy courses at UCLA, where he trains current and future K-12 teachers in ways to show students how to deconstruct media, create their own alternative messages and separate fake news from facts. Share is the author of a 2009 book, “Media Literacy is Elementary: Teaching Youth to Critically Read and Create Media.” In 2015, a second edition of the book was released.

Read more at UCLA Newsroom.

Image courtesy of UCLA Newsroom.

Education, News, Resources, Technology

Video gaming becomes a scholarship sport at University of Utah

The University of Utah will become the first big-time sports school to offer scholarships for competitive video gaming, so far the most high-profile entry into collegiate esports.

Backed by the Salt Lake City school’s video game development program, Utah’s first varsity esports team will play Riot Games’ popular League of Legends and compete in Riot’s collegiate league. More teams in other games will be announced this year.

Utah is the first school in the “Power Five” — the five richest athletic conferences in college sports — to offer scholarships for video gaming, lending a high-profile endorsement to the the rapidly-growing industry. “We want others schools to join us,” said A.J. Dimick, who will run the new esports program. “Let’s move this along together.”

Read more at Bloomberg.

Image courtesy of Bloomberg.

General Images Of Gamers

News, People, Resources, Technology

Read this before you ever make fun of Comic Sans again

In this interesting piece from Narratively, the author shares how the oft-maligned font Comic Sans is one of a few typefaces recommended by influential organizations like the British Dyslexia Association and the Dyslexia Association of Ireland.

This is because the the irregular shapes of the letters in Comic Sans allow readers with dyslexia to focus on the individual parts of words. This stands in marked contrast to the mockery the poor font receives from graphic designers and communications industry professionals the world over.

The article features a telling interview with the author’s sister, who has used the font throughout her schooling and is proudly completing a rigorous program in marine zoology at Bangor University in Wales, UK.

Read more at Narratively.

Image courtesy of Narratively.

Fake News, News, Resources

A good resource on fake news

Not all information is created equal. Remember: Anyone can publish on the Web. There is no editor, fact checker, or peer review process for the "free" content that is available on the visible web. The Web is the ultimate Wikipedia – anyone with Internet access can publish to it. As scholars, you must choose the best and most reliable information that meets your research needs.

This guide from the University of Washington, University Libraries provides three strategies for being a Savvy Information Consumer:

  1. Ask the 5 W Questions
  2. Perform the SMART Check
  3. Perform the CRAAP Test

Read more at the University Libraries website.

Image courtesy of University Libraries.

Fake News, News, Resources

Advice for parents on how to help kids make sense of the news media

The Washington Post recently shared an article focused on engaging with children in a way that educates and contextualizes media, especially in regards to sensitive topics of race, violence and others.

Between wanting to be informed and the permeating torrent of media, it’s not realistic to shut it out of your child’s life completely. In teaching our kids good digital citizenship, we don’t want to do that anyway. With a little mentorship, we can help fight the incursion of fake news with what always defeats ignorance: knowledge.

The article includes 11 ways to teach digital literacy to kids, and to help them understand what they are seeing.

  1. Open the conversation. Talk and listen to kids about what they are reading and watching. Share what you are reading as well. Try to put it into context for them. Offer perspective. For kids of all ages, if they are concerned about what they are hearing or reading, be sure they know they can talk with you about the news.
  2. Be proactive. With our country in what feels like a very tumultuous time, don’t let elementary-age kids watch or read the news on their own. They need help processing what they see, and we need to help our kids understand how to at least try to make sense of what they are hearing and how to move forward.
  3. Get specific. While sometimes it feels good to generalize while watching the news with other adults (e.g., “the world is going to hell”), we should be specific about our concerns with our kids. If we are anxious or concerned about the news in general, it is helpful to give reasons the news concerns you.

Read more at The Washington Post.

Image courtesy of The Washington Post.

Fake News, News, Resources

Fake news tips and tricks

It’s becoming more and more relevant for readers and social media users to distinguish facts from fake news. Recent pieces detailing how to do so are everywhere, but here are just two.

A recent article in Fortune Magazine speaks with several professors and students about the importance of education in resolving this issue.

“I think only education can solve this problem,” said Pat Winters Lauro, a professor at Kean University in New Jersey who began teaching a course on news literacy this semester.

Read more in Fortune Magazine.

Additionally, a piece from The Daily Mail shares tips many teachers are using in identifying fake news lessons:

  • URL look odd? That “” ending on an otherwise authentic-looking website is a red flag. When in doubt, click on the “contact” and “about” links to see where they lead. A major news organization probably isn’t headquartered in a house.
  • Does it make you mad? False reports often target emotions with claims of outlandish spending or unpatriotic words or deeds. If common sense tells you it can’t be true, it may not be.
  • If it’s real, other news sites are likely reporting it.
  • How is the writing? Caps lock and multiple exclamation points don’t have a place in most real newsrooms.
  • Who are the writers and the people in the story? Google names for clues to see if they are legitimate, or not.
  • What are fact-checking sites like and finding?
  • It might be satire. Sometimes foolish stories aren’t really meant to fool.
  • Think twice before sharing. Today, everyone is a publisher.

Read more at The Daily Mail.
Image courtesy of The Daily Mail.


News, Resources

Six guidelines for practicing digital citizenship

Tools to help youth and educators understand appropriate and exemplary behaviors in an online environment have never been more needed in our current heavily politicized social media age.

The Global Digital Citizen Foundation has put together a list of 18 recommended digital citizenship web resources for teachers, and included within the article six guidelines to teach students how to practice digital citizenship. These are:

  1. Respect for self: Having respect for yourself is about being aware of how you portray yourself with your online persona. In doing so, you will set a positive example for others to follow.
  2. Responsibility for self: We must be mindful to avoid behavior that puts us at risk, both online and offline. Acting responsibly encourages exemplary personal governance as a habit of mind and adds to our sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
  3. Respect for others: Respecting others teaches us the value of being constructive and friendly online. It’s about modeling behavior that focuses on civility and constructive thinking in the face of conflict.
  4. Responsibility for others: Don’t be afraid to report abusive and inappropriate behavior towards others. This is how we come to see the value in making others feel protected and valued themselves.
  5. Respect for property: Asking permission to share another’s intellectual properties is an important practice. Those who devote their time to creativity in the service of others deserve no less. Learn the rules of “fair use” and copyright laws, and how they apply to sourcing and using online information.
  6. Responsibility for property: Treating our property and others’ with care and respect, including intellectual properties, is vital to preserving our digital and global communities. Remember that any kind of digital piracy is still theft and is not a victimless crime. Make a choice to act with integrity and to value what we use or own.

Read more at the Global Digital Citizen Foundation.

News, Resources

Resource: “Screen Merchants of Doubt” in your middle or high school classroom

modParticipant Media is providing 750 free MERCHANTS OF DOUBT DVDs and educational licensing rights to middle and high school classroom educators who are passionate about engaging students on important issues related to credibility, fact checking and agenda setting.

MERCHANTS OF DOUBT explores the roles pundits, scientists, government agencies, and the media play in shaping policies and perceptions about public health issues, from toxic chemicals to pharmaceuticals to climate change. The film encourages students to think critically about how their behaviors and attitudes are influenced by the cluttered and often confusing messages they receive from the media.
Continue reading “Resource: “Screen Merchants of Doubt” in your middle or high school classroom”

News, Resources

No screens before 2 years old? Time to rethink the rule, pediatricians say

On NPR’s Morning Edition, there was a recent article about media and early childhood development. The article references the importance of monitored media consumption and how the guidelines for youth and children haven’t been updated since 1999, but just now received a refresh.

Kids as young as 15 months can learn from media, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics — as long as a caregiver is present and involved. The idea is to shift the focus from what is on the screen to who else is in the room.

Read more at NPR.

Image courtesy of NPR.

News, Resources

Resource: “Merchants of Doubt” film available for screening

NAMLE is thrilled to announce another exciting partnership with Participant Media.

Participant Media is providing 750 free MERCHANTS OF DOUBT DVDs and educational licensing rights to middle and high school classroom educators who are passionate about engaging students on important issues related to credibility, fact checking and agenda setting.

Read more about the film and find out how to get it at the NAMLE website.


News, Resources

Media toolkit makes it easy for youth to dissect media

NAMLE (the National Association of Media Literacy Education) has been sharing information about an organization called The Lamp, and the material they are sharing about holding a “Break-a-thon.”

The LAMP is a New York-based nonprofit organization teaching people to comprehend, create and challenge media. The LAMP’s acclaimed Break-a-thon events are perfect introductions for youth about how, why and for whom media are made – and now you can host one on your own!

Whether you host a Break-a-thon to take on Super Bowl commercials, music videos, political ads or something else, Break-a-thon in a Box has everything you need, including tips, sample in-kind donation forms, budgeting templates, calendars and more, all at no cost. Plus, we’re always here to help. Get started today!

People who are interested just need to sign up and will receive their own Break-a-thon kit to get started. Check it out!

Visit for all the info.