Tag Archives: media literacy

Where film and writing merge: Match on Action

This weekend I attended ACME: Action Coalition for Media Education 5th Annual summit hosted by Sacred Heart University’s Media Literacy & Digital Culture graduate program and co sponsored with Project Censored. ACME identifies itself as “an emerging SmartMedia Education Network, a global coalition run by and for media educators.” ACME’s mission is threefold:

  1. Teaching media education knowledge and skills – through keynotes, trainings, and conferences – in classrooms and communities to foster more critical media consumption and more active participation in our democracy.
  2. Supporting media reform — few multinational corporations (Big Media) own much of the media that shapes our 21st century culture.– Media reform is crucial since only those who are media educated support media reform, media education must be a top priority for all citizens and activists.
  3. Democratizing our media system through education and activism.

Topics throughout the day addressed pedagogy, citizenship, digital production, journalism, and representations of race, class, and gender.  I was invited to present with colleagues from Jacob Burns Film Center on their curriculum Image, Sound, and Story. Currently, in its third year of fruition, Image Sound and Story is a “series of ten hands-on lessons/projects that emphasize process, challenge-based learning, collaboration, and reflection to build students’ visual and aural communication skills.”

Our presentation was hands on and allowed participants to experience a piece of JBFC curriculum. We focused on structure and I shared how I use Image, Sound, and Story in my media literacy elective, Media Savvy Kids, and how it also influences my English classroom.

The unit on Structure (Moment to Moment) focuses on how to connect ideas through editing and match cuts when creating a film. When teaching writing, writer’s need to offer a road map for their readers in order to understand the sequence of ideas. Writers use specific transitions to guide and emphasize their intentions. These transitions are similar to the types of cuts film directors and editors have to think about to create a coherent film. Below are the slides from the presentation and at the end I include samples of student work to highlight the intentions of my student writers.

 

To learn more about Media Literacy professional development opportunities click on the links below:

Jacob Burns Film Center summer professional development for teachers 

Media Literacy Education for a Digital Generator Summer Institute for Educators at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont

Summer Media Institute at Wedlock College in Boston, Massachusetts

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Tackling Words & Images Critically and Closely with Students

As technology and schooling are continuously evolving, teachers must equip students with literacy skills needed to participate, engage, and succeed in our global and digital society. To do so, students must read, decode, and  think critically, moving between printed texts and digital interactions for communication and producing information.

Non-oral human communication has come a long way from cave drawings and cuneiform inscriptions. Communication in both the visual and written media continues to co-evolve. Writing has continued to permeate more than books, and students now find themselves reading more and more diverse texts and in more and more places – paper texts, online texts, informational text, literature, images and video on media platforms, game platforms, and social media. Whether the writing is in print or on screens, students are required to transfer reading skills to these different visual mediums for comprehension, communication, and creation.

Transliteracy, coined by Sue Thomas, Professor of New Media at De Montfort University and the Transliteracy Research Group,strives to set aside the typical ‘print versus digital’ dichotomy in favor of a more holistic integration of the ways in which we utilize various mediums to access information and make meaning. From pen and paper to moveable type to social networking, technology has changed the way in which we interact with one another and with information.” (Trimm, 2007) As a result, teachers are not just content area specialists but also literacy advocates, coaching students to be successful readers, writers, and critical thinkers.

Teachers must continue to equip students with literacy skills needed to participate, engage, and succeed in our global and digital society. To do so, students must develop skills to read in print and online, decode these messages, and critically think about text and media. As Turner and Hicks point out in Connected Reading: Teaching Adolescent Readers in a Digital World (NCTE, 2015), “The process of ‘reading’ is complicated by many factors including experience, skills, motivation, interest the reader brings to the text, and the difficulty and reading level of the text itself.” Educators today  are being called to teach reading that encompasses critical thinking skills.

Teacher and author, Kristin Ziemke has a great article in the January/February International Literacy Association magazine Literacy Today (2016 v.33, n.4) on “Balancing Text and Tech.” The central idea of her article is that teachers are not teaching a text, rather we should teach the reader and focus on (critical) thinking skills. Teachers need to explicitly teach students how to read both print and digital texts, as they require some different skills navigating and coding the text. Ziemke calls on teachers to model and scaffold to support our students so that they can “interact, respond, and think to read the world differently.”

Pairing text and tech is one strategy that I use in my classroom to help students practice their critical reading and thinking skills. Below I share some of the text and tech sets I have used this year.

I.

Students read excerpts from

Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Young Reader’s Edition (2015) by Michael Pollan

Chew On This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food (2007) by Charles Wilson and Eric Schlosser

What’s Wrong with Our Food System TEDx Talk by Birke Baehr

II.

Plastic Bag (sottotitoli in italiano – voce di Werner Herzog)

 

22 Facts About Plastic Pollution (And 10 Things We Can Do About It) from Eco Watch (2014)

III.

KWA HERI MANDIMA

War Poetry from Africa

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah (2008)

 

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Tackling Words & Images Critically with Students

I am currently collaborating with both the Jacob Burns Film Center and Actively Learn to promote critical reading of images and words in my middle school English classroom. Together we wrote a proposal to present as a panel at SXSWedu in Austin, TX in March 2016 addressing ways to help students read critically. We need your help getting our panel selected, 30% of judgement is based on people’s choice.

Our proposal states,

As the historically static world of text, and the dynamic visual media worlds are converging, students are reading more and more on a screen than in a paper text, and are required to transfer reading skills to visual media. Technology and schooling continue to evolve, teachers must continue to support/equip students with literacy skills needed to participate, engage, and succeed in our global and digital society. To do so, students must develop skills to read in print and online, decode these messages, and critically think about text and media. The diverse panel will address strategies and techniques for teaching students to read texts critically and deepen comprehension of digital texts.

To see more and vote YES you can click on the icon below.

edu16_votemysession-03_0

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All Depends On the Skin Your Living In: Building Text Sets & World Knowledge

This past March I attended the Long Island Language Arts Council Spring Conference and was able to sit in a great session on Writing About Reading. Kate Gerson, a senior Regents Research Fellow for Educator Engagement and the Common Core of NYSED,  presented the shifts in writing demanded by the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts/Literacy; specifically how the Common Core writing connects to volume of text read, knowledge about the world and knowledge of words.  She mentioned that writing equals expertise and expertise is informed by language (vocabulary) and knowledge. Vocabulary is built through a person’s knowledge of the world. The more a person knows about something, they can read about it, begin to make sense of it, and acquire knowledge and vocabulary about it.

Not knowing words on a page is debilitating and slows a reader down. For ELLs and students with disabilities this can be a even harder challenge. Thus, if we want students to be strong readers with world knowledge and robust vocabulary, teachers need to expose students to information about the world and have the language to discuss it that is accessible to our students diverse needs. Consuming information about the world works best in chunks. Language and vocabulary is acquired over time. A steady growth of knowledge comes with daily reading, writing, and speaking. Teachers can use text sets and build their own text sets that are accessible and consumable for their students. These text sets can also help build student knowledge about the world and expose them to rich information.

Here is a text set that I have started to compile on race and racism in connection with all the racially driven police brutality present in the news. The text set includes a music video, poetry, and a short film that can then be paired with current newspaper articles and young adult novels. The key is that I am continually build text sets around the literature my students are reading and additional domain knowledge.

Poem “BLINK YOUR EYES” by Sekou Sundiata

I was on my way to see my woman
but the Law said I was on my way
thru a red light red light red light
and if you saw my woman
you could understand,
I was just being a man.
It wasn’t about no light
it was about my ride
and if you saw my ride
you could dig that too, you dig?
Sunroof stereo radio black leather
bucket seats sit low you know,
the body’s cool, but the tires are worn.
Ride when the hard time come, ride
when they’re gone, in other words
the light was green.

I could wake up in the morning
without a warning
and my world could change:
blink your eyes.
All depends, all depends on the skin,
all depends on the skin you’re living in

Up to the window comes the Law
with his hand on his gun
what’s up? what’s happening?
I said I guess
that’s when I really broke the law.
He said a routine, step out the car
a routine, assume the position.
Put your hands up in the air
you know the routine, like you just don’t care.
License and registration.
Deep was the night and the light
from the North Star on the car door, deja vu
we’ve been through this before,
why did you stop me?
Somebody had to stop you.
I watch the news, you always lose.
You’re unreliable, that’s undeniable.
This is serious, you could be dangerous.

I could wake up in the morning
without a warning
and my world could change:
blink your eyes.
All depends, all depends on the skin,
all depends on the skin you’re living in

New York City, they got laws
can’t no bruthas drive outdoors,
in certain neighborhoods, on particular streets
near and around certain types of people.
They got laws.
All depends, all depends on the skin,
all depends on the skin you’re living in.

French Rapper Stromae’s Music Video “Papaoutai”

KWA HERI MANDIMA – Short French Film/Memoir (Can Connect with other texts related to Violence in Sudan & Rwanda such as Linda Sue Park’s Long Walk to Water)

New York Times Articles “Thoughts on Race in American, a Backdrop to Ferguson” by Nicholas Kristof 11/25/2014

“Is Everyone a Little Bit Racist” by Nicholas Kristof 8/27/2014

To find out more about the National Text Set Project or attend one of their training programs, check out their website.

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Media Literacy Lessons from the Jacob Burns Film Center Summer Teacher Institute

JBFC Sound Studio   Students as Filmmakers

This past week I had the privilege of attending the Jacob Burns Film Center Summer Teacher Institute in Pleasantville, New York. The week long institute included a sneak preview of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood and a viewing of the documentary Jordowosky’s Dune. In addition to viewing the two movies, I also attended workshops to address teaching media literacy in the digital age. JBFC is launching a new media literacy curriculum online this fall that is aligned with the Common Core and centers around image and story as it relates to analyzing and creating media (movies, animation, images, and print text).

Here are some key ideas that can be applied in any classroom relating to teaching media literacy and film studies.

1. Teach Film Terminology – The Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC) has set up a great Visual Glossary with terminology relating to film and media. The site not only offers a definition of a cinematic concept but also includes multiple examples from film clips to illustrate the film technique. Teachers need to teach and utilize these terms with students.  When analyzing film or creating a media text we want students to understand that a filmmaker makes deliberate choices to convey a message or emotion the way an author selects specific words to convey meaning. This element relates to craft and structure as identified in the Common Core.

2. Films are a Text and they way we teach them in our class should mirror the way we teach Close Reading – In the age of the Common Core, teachers are asking students to “mine the text for details, ideas, and deeper meanings” (Fisher and Frey, 2014). Just as print text is layered with words, images, inferences, and evidence, so is film. If students are to develop deep understanding of texts, teachers need to model close reading skills to film too. When watching a film, students should view for content analysis and understanding, but also to understand the filmmaker’s point of view and purpose.

3. Students are Creators & Filmmakers – In teaching 21st century skills, students are creators. Teachers should allow students to create their own images and interpretations to text and information. There are a host of film projects that you can have your students create as described in a blog post I wrote earlier this month. The creation process is just as important as the final product. Let students understand the undertaking involved in creating a film from the story, setting, lights, sound, editing, to the characters.

4. Storyboards are Essential to Creating. It all begins with one idea, a seed, a spark, an overheard conversation, and an idea is born. Yet, a writer or filmmaker cultivates the idea, outlines, drafts, sketches the paths where the idea is to expand and reveal a story. Students need to outline and sketch their ideas like real writers and artists. Storyboards are great scaffolding tools to help students put their ideas down on paper, and unravel the threads of ideas that encompass their story. Allow students to review, revise, and reflect on their work. As mentioned above, it is not so much about the final product, but the process is just as important.

5. Movie Clips as Teaching Tools – So many wonderful shorts and movie clips were shared throughout the week to utilize with my students and teach various concepts and ideas. I have compiled a playlist of ten movie clips that I will bring back to the classroom. Think about how you can use these clip to help teach point of view, structure, and or image.


 

 

 

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Media Literacy in Action: Teaching Critical Thinking and Digital Citizenship

This Friday I will be presenting at the Media Literacy Research Symposium at Fairfield University’s Dolan Business School. Below is a summary of my presentation and resources for teaching media literacy and digital citizenship.

Media literacy entails being able to read, review, reflect, and react to all media, both print and electronic. Today’s information and entertainment technologies communicate to us through a powerful combination of words, images, and sounds. Being literate in a media age requires critical thinking skills that empower us as we make decisions, whether in the classroom, living room, the workplace, or the voting booth.

Media Savvy Kids was designed to expand the notion of literacy to include the ability to read, analyze, evaluate, and produce communications in a variety of media texts. Throughout the elective, students have the opportunity to examine how mass media is constructed and produced, and discuss how mass media shapes our understanding of the world. The elective focuses on all aspects of the media including movies, television, song lyrics, the print media, and due to the predominance of digital media, the internet and social media.

Media Literacy is essential in our globally digital world. Students are spending more and more time accessing, utilizing,and contributing to media through their mobile devices, tablets, and computers. Schools need to address media literacy across the content area in order to support students and address the Common Core Learning Standards alongside the International Society Technology Standards. If students are to positively participate in our digital and global society, media literacy is as necessary as reading, writing, speaking, listening, and critical thinking.

Global collaborative projects lend themselves to poignant conversations about digital citizenship. The purpose of the global collaborative project is to educate and promote responsible online choices as well as immersing students in an online educational community for learning and collaboration. Students collaborate researching and writing a report using a wiki and create a school-based action project that is documented on the wiki.

In our technologically advanced world today, digital citizenship can mean a lot of things. Students need to engage in conversations around these topics so they can make good decisions as digital citizens when it comes to etiquette and respect, responsibility and safety.

 

Additional Resources for Media Literacy & Digital Citizenship:

Media Education Foundation

Project LookSharp (Ithaca College)

AdBusters

New Mexico Literacy Project

Listen Up: Youth Media Network (PBS)

Paley Center for Media (NYC)

Museum for the Moving Image

Media Smarts (Formerly the Media Awareness Network)

Common Sense Media

Google Digital Literacy & Citizenship Curriculum

Flat Connections Global Projects

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Digital Citizenship Through the Lens of Social Awareness

This fall my students are participating in the Flat Classroom Digitween Project, one of many global collaborative project founded by Julie Lindsay and Vickie Davis. Students around the world participating in the project study and explore digital citizenship and how to be responsible and reliable online learners. The purpose of the project is to educate and promote responsible online choices as well as immersing students in an online educational community for learning and collaboration. Students collaborate researching and writing a report using a wiki and create a school-based action project that is documented on the wiki.

In our technologically advanced world today, digital citizenship can mean a lot of things. The project is organized according to the five areas of awareness that relate to being a digital citizen: technology, individual, social, cultural, and global.

To help introduce the five areas of awareness to my students I showed my students the two videos “I Forgot My Phone” and “Emma, Le Trefle.” Both videos are funny that make big statements. Many argue face-to-face society is being impacted negatively by technology causing inattentiveness of people to their own families and friends. Cell phones interrupt movies, celebrations, social events, and often become intrusive. This aspect of digital citizenship falls under Social Awareness.

After viewing and discussing the two videos in class I asked my students to create a code of conduct for cell phone use in public places. This was not an easy task. Students debated whether talking on the phone and texting was appropriate at the dinner table and shared other stories about award experiences with cell phones. It was a lively discussion.

Students need to engage in conversations like these so they can make good decisions as digital citizens when it comes to etiquette and respect, responsibility and safety.

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Same Old Story

In November of 1989 Disney hit gold with The Little Mermaid, a coming of age princess story about a teenaged (mermaid) girl who is miserable living at home with an overbearing and controlling father, absent mother, a desire to see the “whole wide world” and what it has to offer, contrary to what she had been told.  So, she sneaks out of the house and explores her surrounds, stumbles upon a handsome prince, falls in love, and only the boyfriend can help make the blow to her father that she is leaving home a little easier, but not really.  In the end, the girl is independent from her father who comes to accept this and she is transferred over to a new man, younger man, who she is madly in love with. Of course, they live happily ever after.

Formula straight forward, right?  

Disney tapped into this formula for many of their princess movies that followed: Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Mulan.  At the same time, these girls/princesses were shown as readers, warriors, care givers, independent, and wise.  Hey, it was the 20th Century, post-1970s to be exact, so why not offer a pinch of women’s rights into the story-line mix.

Here we are 2013.  I now have two little kids and probably see more kids movies than adult movies.  Sitting in the theater yesterday, it hit me as we were watching Dreamwork’s The Croods: this is the same old story.  Set in pre-historic times, we have a family with a teenage daughter who feels trapped and confined by her father and his beliefs.  All she wants to do is “leave the cave.”  So, late one night she sneaks out of the cave, drawn by some light — which happens to be controlled by some guy (his name is Guy).  She follows and develops feelings for Guy and her father is angry, upset, and even jealous at times. Yes, she is strong (physically stronger than Guy), independent, adventurous, and angry at her father throughout the movie. BUT, it’s a guy who she develops feelings for who helps her to see the new world.  In the end, everyone loves Guy and they all live happily ever after on a tropical beach.

As I sat in the dark movie theater I thought, “Hey, I’ve seen this before.” It’s not only The Croods that has tapped into the old Disney princess story formula.  Last year’s Hotel Transylvania produced by Sony Pictures also borrowed the same story line using vampires, ghosts, and goblins.  Even Disney Pixar’s Brave used the age-old princess formula to tell the story of an Irish princess, Merida, who rebels when her parents tell her it’s time for her to get married. Yes, there are more parts to the story that I am leaving out but when we strip it down to its bare bones, it’s the same formula.

The girls in the current movies are sassy, independent, and roll their eyes at their father constantly.  I sit in the theater thinking, is this a ode to daughters saying go out into the world with your boyfriend and be happy. We trust you (and your new guy) in the end. OR is this the same confining message to girls to go out into the world, explore, and find your way but the fact of the matter is you still need a man with you, behind you, supporting you?

In my Media Literacy class I have a unit on deconstructing Disney.  We study the critical lens of race, class, age and gender.  Some of my students say, we are reading too much into the movies and others offer many examples or racism, sexism, ageism, and classism throughout the movie.  One of the objectives of this unit is to teach critical thinking skills.  I want my students to understand that there are multiple messages in the media that we consume and we need to be active viewers of media to understand the complexity of these texts.

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Gender Stereotypes in Advertising

The Super Bowl sometimes is more famous for the commercials that air than the actual game. This year was no different with the Go Daddy Ad.

The spring semester I teach a media literacy class to middle school students. I always begin the semester examining persuasive techniques in advertising. I have my students participate in a number of advertising scavenger hunts looking through magazines and finding advertisements expressing various situations: beautiful people, star power, heartstrings, bribery, putdowns. My Media Savvy Wikispaces has a list of all the persuasive techniques discussed in class.

We eventually address the gendered stereotypes advertising and I ask my students do another advertising scavenger hunt specifically focusing on gender representations in media. Students are asked to find the following:
1. A person’s body is used to sell a product.
2. A person’s body is “dismembered” in the ad (one part of their body is shown, not the entire person).
3. The person presented in the ad is grossly thin.
4. A woman’s mouth is covered (as if to silence her).
5. Woman against woman – women fighting with each other.

Even in the current day and age, women are presented in advertising as dependent, dismembered, submissive, clowning, and subjected to violence. This Snickers ad from Malaysia from last year is a great example that gendered stereotypes still exist today in advertising.

For more, Jean Kilbourne’s Killing Us Softly 4 documentary and Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s Miss Representation address gender in advertising.

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to facebook or not to facebook

Many of my friends, family and even my middle school students are addicted to social media, particularly Facebook.  People are always asking me and even inviting me to Facebook.  I struggle with this.  Of all the social media outlets available I continue to push Facebook aside.  I am not against Facebook by any means.  But is having a Facebook page necessary to continue to be tech savvy?  That is the question I continue to ask myself.

It is fascinating that so many corporations  (from a media literacy point of view) have Facebook pages and are even offering discounts and give-aways to make their customers friends.  It is a marketing phenomenon.  Are people jumping into liking and loving their favorite products to take part in the offers or is this display of brand loyalties connect with the psychology of self identity?  I am sure that there are many college classes in psychology, as well as mass marketing, that are examining the role of social media in the changing status of human relationships and branding.

For the time being, let’s partake in a poll.

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