Last week, October 26 - 30, was Media Literacy Week across the nation. Students, teachers and community members engaged in learning related to the different aspects of Media Literacy including access, analysis, evaluation, creation and action. Even though Media Literacy might not be the most gripping topic, it is one that is embedded in our daily lives and has impacts that extend far beyond the classroom.
Fake News, Confirmation Bias, Woke-Washing, Deepfakes, News Satire, Clickbait, and more are terms and tactics new and old that fill our digital atmosphere. Additionally, the way people choose to get their information and interact with it changes on a daily basis. More than ever we need to be engaging students of all ages in the life skills of critical thinking, inquiry, questioning, along with responsible communication and collaboration.
What is Media Literacy?
Defined by NAMLE (National Association of Media Literacy Education), "Media Literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and act using all forms of communication.” Our own Jeffco Generation skills exemplify the core aspects of Media Literacy through Self-Direction & Personal Responsibility, Communication, Critical & Creative Thinking, Collaboration & Leading by Influence and Agility & Adaptability.
Information Literacy, Media Literacy, Digital Literacy and a variety of other phrases are often used to reference these intertwined competencies. It is not a clear cut conversation that is limited to one content area, as the learning and application cross all areas of curriculum and frequently blur across lines of understanding.
Why is Media Literacy important?
Current events are a prime example of why media literacy is more important than ever before. Our students are our future as a nation and as global citizens. We need help to develop the skills necessary to be self aware and critical of the information being presented to them.
Linda Ellerbee, journalist and host of Nickelodeon’s Nick News with Linda Elerbee once stated, “Media Literacy is not just important, it is absolutely critical. It’s going to make the difference between whether kids are a tool of the mass media or whether the mass media is a tool for the kids to use.”
Making this relevant to learners:
Who needs to be a part of the Learning?
The answer to this question is we all do. Teachers, administrators, family members and our community need to engage students in rich conversations about the information around them. We need to model the practices we hope to see and build those relationships to engage in dialogue that allow for critical questioning and responsible action.
Promoting conversations between students and their families, is a great way to connect the learning community.
This article, "What is Media Literacy, and why is it important?" from Common Sense Media provides a structure and language to help families discuss media literacy at all ages.
What are some of the Resources available?
Media Literacy crosses all contents, Art, Music, Physical Education, Social Studies, Science, Language and everything in between. Thankfully, there are an ever increasing amount of resources to pull from and engage in this discussion. Often it is more a matter of ensuring that it is not forgotten but addressed. When a music teacher shares a resource they are sure to give credit to the composer, likewise for any other form of research. Now more than ever our students are creators and owners of their content. Understanding the basics of media, information or digital literacy should be at the core of their work.
Linked here is a small collection of Media Literacy resources for teachers of all levels to explore and connect with throughout the year. If you would like support as you think about engaging your students with Media Literacy please reach out to your school’s Digital Teacher Librarian. They would be a great asset in partnering to co-teach and collaborate!