Tips to make media literacy more relevant to students:
- Teach critical viewing: In your classes, as you watch films or TV shows that pertain to your subject area, don’t forget to spend time having students talk about the production values, the accuracy of the content, what the message is, who is the messenger, etc.
- Teach media literacy skills: Just as teachers are concerned with reading and writing literacy, they must also be concerned with helping students become media literate. We do a grave disservice to our students if we do not “arm” them with skills to decipher media messages and better understand the impact and power of the media. It is an essential life-long learning skill.
- Teach ALL ages and grades to be media literate: In working with elementary schools on a media literacy/production project, presenters found that children as young as kindergarten wanted to talk about the media. In fact, they showed a hunger to discuss and make sense of what they were seeing and hearing on TV and in movies. Media literacy training should start in preschool or at least in kindergarten to ensure that our children become critical viewers and thinkers of media.
- Incorporate media literacy into your curriculum: In most industrialized nations, media literacy is a mandated curriculum in all K-12 schools. Canada has been teaching these skills for over 20 years. America is one of the only nations not addressing media literacy in a fundamental way. It can be incorporated in all subject areas, and there are many excellent resources online for understanding the media and teaching media literacy.
- Organize an after school media awareness club: This is an excellent way to provide students with an opportunity to explore the media in many different ways. From viewing films from a critical point of view, to creating a media critique column in the school newspaper, a club provides all kinds of learning opportunities in a fun setting.
- Talk to your librarians about providing media literacy resources: These educators are just as interested in educating their students and are willing to collaborate. They can help bring innovative tools into the discussion.
- Create video/media production project opportunities in the classroom: This is an excellent way to teach the concepts of media literacy in a self-discovery, hands-on learning project. It’s also a fun way for students to explore different content areas.
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Helpful media literacy resources recommended by AME:
- California Department of Education Media Literacy Resources: As a result of legislation passed in 2019, California is now compiling a collection of resources for teachers, teacher-librarians, administrators, and others. These resources include media literacy curriculum, collections of media literacy lessons, and media production resources.
- Common Sense Media: Resources for educators and parents. Digital citizenship is a special focus for this organization.
- Consortium for Media Literacy: Downloadable short activities or MediaLit Moments for classrooms. One example is an activity entitled “Checking the Fact-Checkers.”
- Critical Media Project: Resources for educators from USC Annenberg examine media literacy and issues such as gender, race and ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
- DigCit Utah: Digital Citizenship Resources Library. This curated library was created by EPIK Deliberate Digital as a free resource for school community councils, parents, educators, and administrators, in response to digital citizenship legislation in Utah and is open to anyone.
- Frank Baker’s Media Literacy Clearinghouse: Extensive database of classroom resources organized by medium, concept, and teaching standard.
- iCivics: Founded by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to improve civic knowledge and participation. Includes a Media and Influence unit.
- KQED: Provides citizens with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions, convene community dialogue, bring the arts to everyone, and engage audiences to share their stories.
- LAMP – Learning About Multimedia Project: The LAMPlatoon Media Breaker lets students comment on advertising by directly editing commercials.
- Media Education Lab: Variety of media literacy resources for K-12 teachers from the University of Rhode Island Media Education Lab.
- Media Education Foundation: MEF offers resources that support the use of their films in a wide variety of venues and contexts.
- Media Literacy Now: A national advocacy organization promoting media literacy education policy. The website offers a wide range of resources for both parents and educators.
- Media Smarts: Free online teacher resources and classroom tools from Canada’s Center for Digital and Media Literacy.
- NAMLE Resource Hub: National Association for Media Literacy Education resources, lesson plans, and ideas submitted by members.
- National Institutes of Health: The US government agency NIH offers free materials focused on media and health and nutrition for 11 to 13-year-old students through its Media-Smart Youth program.
- Newseum: The Newseum, based in Washington, D.C., is an interactive museum that promotes free expression and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, while tracing the evolution of communication.
- News Literacy Project: Learn Channel: A collection of talks, lessons and other digital resources for 21st century learners.
- PBS LearningMedia: This resource provides access to thousands of innovative, standards-aligned digital resources, compelling student experiences, and professional development opportunities.
- Project Look Sharp: Media Literacy initiative of Ithaca college offers free lesson plans and materials.
- ReadWriteThink: This organization provides educators, parents, and afterschool professionals with access to the highest quality practices in reading and language arts instruction by offering free materials. It partners with the International Literacy Association, the National Council of Teachers of English and the Verizon Foundation.
- Rock Your World: Civic engagement around human rights issues: curriculum includes research and developing documentaries, PSAs, media campaigns. Project of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.
- Spark Summit: Downloadable media literacy curriculum for girls on media sexualization and becoming an activist.
- Web English Teacher: K-12 English Language Arts teaching resources: lesson plans, videos, e-texts, technology integration, criticism, and classroom activities.
- Welcoming Schools: A project of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Resources include using books to look at gender stereotypes in grades 1-3 and examining gender roles in advertising for grades 4-5.
- White Ribbon Week: One week sequence for elementary schools on internet safety, healthy online habits, and critical thinking about media.
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