How to Teach Media Literacy

Teaching Healthy Skepticism

Media literacy educators want to help students become aware of the need to question media messages rather than simply accept them.  But students don’t learn those skills so readily when teachers tell them what to accept or reject.  In this issue, we share our strategies for helping students develop a healthy skepticism about media. 

Systems Thinking and Media Literacy

In this issue, we discuss the work of the Waters Foundation and the movement towards the use of systems thinking tools in K-12 education and the strong connections to media literacy.  We explain what systems thinking is, trace the connections between systems thinking and media literacy, discuss the research which supports the use of systems thinking in K-12 schooling, and discuss how systems thinking can be used to solve real-world problems.  

Sexism in Media

What is clear is that the majority of media offer images of beauty to young girls which are virtually impossible to attain.  Many of those images also offer a hyper-sexualized model of feminine identity for girls to emulate.  In this issue, you’ll find reviews of two films from the Media Education Foundation which will help you discuss issues of media, sexuality and gender identity with your students and children.   

Faith and Media Literacy

Catholic educators have been active in the field of media literacy since its inception. In this country, Elizabeth Thoman, CHM, founded Media and Values magazine in 1977 to explore the influence of media on family life, education and citizenship in a democratic society.  In 1989, when the audience for Media and Values had grown substantially, Thoman founded the Center for Media Literacy to publish curriculum and develop models for teacher training.   

Fair Use and Media Literacy

This issue of “Connections” focuses on fair use of copyrighted works because it is an issue integral to the practice of media literacy education.  Two articles draw from documents produced by media and legal scholars: “The Cost of Copyright Confusion for Media Literacy Educators” and a “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Educators.” 

Digital Britain

The British Government releases an ambitious new plan for its media and communications industries, including a national plan for media literacy education.  Also, the British Office of Communications audit entitled Digital Lifestyles.

Comics and Media Literacy

This issue introduces the use of comic books and graphic novels as tools for media literacy.  We demonstrate how readers of comic books and graphic novels make complex choices to construct meaning from text, illustrations as conventions of the medium; demonstrate how comic books can be appreciated as works of storytelling art in their own right; and how writing and producing comics can help students develop complex literacy skills.

Cell Phones as Learning Tools

A new study from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at the Sesame Workshop explores the potential of cell phones to revolutionize teaching and learning.  Research from the William and Ida Friday Institute at North Carolina State University outlines the potential of 1:1 technology environments, and The Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston launches “Ask the Mediatrician.”  

Professional Development

In our research section, we review current research and trends in professional development for K-12 educators, and discuss the opportunities which recently developed models of professional development present for dissemination of media literacy concepts and pedagogy. 

Participation in What?

Last month’s discussion between Tessa Jolls (CML) and Henry Jenkins (USC) focused on What’s in a name? Now, the conversation turns to preparing students for a participatory culture, but what does that mean? This issue tackles Participation in What? We’re all in agreement that students need media literacy education to participate fully in our global media environment but there are a variety of opinions about the tools and methods for making this a reality.  

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