Media Literacy

Last week I encouraged all of you to take a moment to reflect on the sessions that you attended and really think about what you learned from the perspective of the following three questions:

  • What can you do to transform your classroom tomorrow?
  • What can you do to transform your classroom next week?
  • What can you do to transform your classroom in the long term?

I’ve loved the conversations I have had with several of you about the new things that you are trying, or are planning to try.

As I reflect on the sessions I attended, one of them stands out more than any of the others.  That was the morning session by Katie Muhtaris called “Wide Awake Minds.”  Her focus in this session was on media literacy and why media matters.

Think for a moment about the amount of time that you spend on a screen – your computer, phone, iPad, TV, etc.  According to information that was shared in this session, tweens ages 8-12 are on their device about 6 hours a day, and that study did not include time spent on devices directly related to school.

Now think about your consumption of media.  Any digital news source you go to now, whether it be CNN, BBC, Fox News, Facebook, or ESPN, what is the first thing you notice?  Probably the pictures.  What are our students’ favorite things to do on shifts-in-literacytheir devices?  Think Instagram and Snapchat – two social media services that are image and video based.  In the “Wide Awake Minds” session, Muhtaris shared that media literacy is redefining what it means to read.  How do we bring that into our classroom? When talking about media literacy, Muhtaris shared the following questions as entry points for discussions on media literacy:

  • What do you see?
  • What does it make you think?
  • What evidence do you have?

Muhtaris also shared some great resources that we can use to bring media literacy into our classrooms.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • What’s Going On In This Picture – This source from the New York Times shares an interesting or intriguing picture on Monday morning without captions or descriptions. Come back on Thursday afternoons for additional information about the picture.
  • The Kids Should See This – This cool blog posts interesting videos curated by a mom and her 5 & 8 year olds. The tag line on the site is “not-made-for-kids, but perfect for them.”  The videos can spark interesting conversations and discussions.
  • History in Pictures – This twitter feed shares great historical pictures and can lead to great conversations.
  • National Geographic Photo of the Day – Awesome daily nature and society pictures from all over the world.
  • Daily Infographic – The group that runs this site just looks for interesting infographics on the web – one caveat… Make sure you preview any infographics you’re going to use and read every word!  While most are school appropriate, some might not be!
  • Wordless News – This site’s illustrator chooses a single news story each weekday, sketches something to go with it, and then publishes the picture. You can first discuss the picture, then click the link to see the article that goes with it.

In addition to simple media literacy, images and video can inspire inquiry.  Simply showing an interesting picture or video (like those you might find on the sites above) and asking some questions can lead to inquiry.  Here are some potential questions that you could use to get the process rolling:

  • What questions do you have?
  • What does this image make you wonder?
  • What more would you like to know?
  • What else does this remind you of?
  • Where can we look to find answers?

Have you tried anything to introduce your students to media literacy?  Have you ever tried using images as a jumping off point for inquiry?  Share your experiences in the comments below!

One thought on “Media Literacy

  1. I enjoyed that breakout, too! I’ve been doing the wordless news in the morning – “What do you see? What do you think it means?”


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