What is media literacy and why should you teach it in your classroom?
How many advertisements do you come across in one day- ten, fifty, hundreds, thousands? Some sources say we encounter 4,000–5,000 ads a day all trying to persuade us to do something, believe something or buy something (while making money for their shareholders). We may not be consciously aware of seeing these ads, nor are our students who are exposed to the same content we are on a daily basis. Are students equipped to recognize when they are being manipulated? Probably not. Media literacy is a skill, not a topic. It is the responsibility of every educator; in every subject, in every school.
The goal of teaching media literacy is to educate our students on how to question what they see. Media literacy has dozens of “subtopics” that can be explored year-round in your classroom. This post shares some fun media facts, concepts, and resources to get you started.
Media Literacy “Fun Facts”
- Media is not good or bad; it is just a tool that delivers content.
- Adults spend 12 hours, 7 minutes a day consuming media.
- It is estimated that 6 companies own close to 90% of media.
- Magazines print different editions for different areas and demographics.
- Advertisers focus on women’s bodies as “parts of a whole”, so they always have something to fix.
- Personification in advertising plays to our emotions and seeks to have us form “relationships” with products, giving alcohol names such as ‘Jim Beam’ to imply that we are not drinking alone).
Media Literacy Concepts
- Media constructs our culture.
- Media messages affect our thoughts, attitudes, and actions.
- Media uses different “persuasion” tactics to get you to do something, buy something or believe in something.
- Media constructs fantasy worlds.
- No one tells the whole story.
- Media messages reflect the values and viewpoints of the media maker.
- Individuals construct their own meanings from media.
- Media messages can be decoded.
- Media messages contain “texts” and “subtexts”. Each person creates subtext based on prior experiences, prior knowledge, opinions, attitudes, and values.
Nicole’s Favorite Resources
- The Monkey Business Illusion: https://youtu.be/IGQmdoK_ZfY .We “see” what we focus on, or what we choose to see. If you have not watched this video before, be sure to follow the instructions the first time you watch.
- A “Brand” New World: http://magazine.uchicago.edu/0910/investigations/coursework.shtml. How many brands can you identify based on the image? While students may not recognize many of these brands, there are alphabets out there with newer symbols. This is a great discussion starter on how symbols are linked to products to help us remember them
- Hidden Images: https://twentytwowords.com/hidden-images-in-company-logos/ (Note: the McDonalds image may not be appropriate for students.)
- The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Brands: https://www.helpscout.net/blog/psychology-of-color/
- 8–12 Grade Marketing and Branding Lesson Plan: http://mediasmarts.ca/lessonplan/marketing-teens-gotta-have-it-designer-brand-names-lesson
- Wordless News: http://wordlessnews.com/. Have students determine the headline/topic of this current event based on the image alone
- What’s Going on in this Picture? https://www.nytimes.com/column/learning-whats-going-on-in-this-picture
- What Picture Would They Use http://iftheygunnedmedown.tumblr.com/ .Note: High School only. This Tumblr page sparks the discussion about how the media chooses what image they use of a person who is accused of a violent act. This gallery can spark a fascinating conversation about media and the choice they make when highlighting stories.
- How People Define Beauty: https://www.businessinsider.com/how-19-different-countries-define-beauty-2014-6. See the same image photoshopped by 19 different countries based on what they define “beautiful” as.
- How to Analyze a Commercial: https://understandmedia.com/topics/media-theory/110-how-to-analyze-a-television-commercial
- Deconstruct Media Message: https://www.sophia.org/tutorials/deconstruct-media-messages
- Play an Advertisement Game: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/Admongo/index.html
Nicole oversees the LTC’s Instructional Technology Coaching Program, supervising a statewide team of instructional technology coaches and supporting participating districts’ program implementation.
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