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A Penny for Your Trouble

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The human interest news story has been with us for some time--at least since the turn of the 20th century, when Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst deployed them to lure readers away from competing newspapers.  What may be the latest and best source of human interest stories today?  Crowdfunding sites.  Take the personal fundraising site GoFundMe, for example.   In a 2012 interview with Fast Company magazine, CEO Brad Damphousse, described GoFundMe as a "human interest gold mine."  In this MediaLit Moment, your middle level students will learn how visitors to crowdfunding sites aren't just contributing to a deserving person or worthy cause, but are paying for a good story as well.

Ask students to compare personal crowdfunding appeals with personal interest stories in other media.

AHA!:  I'm paying for a story that pulls on my heartstrings!

Grade Level: 6-9

Key Question #1: Who created this message?

Core Concept #1: All media messages are constructed.

Key Question #5: Why is this message being sent?

Core Concept #5: Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.

Materials: Computer with high speed internet access, LCD projector and screen.

Activity:   Pass out, play or display a human interest news story for your class.  Local television news broadcasts and websites are a good source for such stories.  Give your students some time to respond to the story.  Ask, what do they find interesting about the story?   You may wish to display a page or chart of news values, and ask students to identify which news values the story appeals to.

Next, visit the GoFundMe site and browse individual funding appeals.  Ask students, if they don't have a close relationship with the person making the appeal, what would make them want to make a contribution? (The story).  Discuss Core Concept #1 with students.  What appeals do they respond to most?  Why?  (Most likely stories of personal adversity).  You may want to discuss the human interest news values these appeals embody.

Next, draw students' attention to the business model for each medium.  For news stories, the size of readership or the number of viewers helps bring in revenues from advertisers.  In the case of GoFundMe, the company deducts an average of 8% from each contribution for processing and other fees.  So contributors are paying for the media producer to publish these stories and to publicize these appeals across social media sites as well. 

Ask, what information or advice might they want to share with someone who's thinking of using a personal fundraising site to make a contribution?

The Fast Company article on GoFundMe can be found at:

http://www.fastcoexist.com/1680780/crowd-funding-for-everything-else-pets-healthcare-college-you-name-it


The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework.  Used with permission, ©2002-2014, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com

Last Updated ( Friday, 31 March 2017 11:28 )
 

Demolish Stereotypes Build Confidence

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In late 2012, Legos unveiled its Legos Friends line for girls, which seemed to focus more on hanging out with best friends than anything else.  Girls could put together a Lego cafe or style salon if they were in a building mood.  A Change.org petition to the Legos CEO bearing nearly 70,000 signatures challenged the gender stereotyping in the new line. A year later, Debbie Sterling, a recent Stanford graduate in mechanical engineering and product design, released the first GoldieBlox construction kits, which also targeted girls, but actually taught them skills in elementary mechanics.

The web and television advertising for both product lines demonstrate clear differences in the expected purposes for which the toys are to be used.  And, given that these are short commercials selling a product, they are jam-packed with visual and verbal signifiers which sell the values, lifestyles and beliefs the products are supposed to represent.  In this MediaLit Moment, your early elementary students will learn how to decode some of the larger clues to those values, and learn how to talk about what those values mean for girls and boys in society.

Ask students to describe the differences between advertisements for similar toys, and to explore the significance of those differences.

AHA!:  The second ad actually shows girls building things!

Grade Level:  1-3

Key Question #4 for Young Children: What does this tell me about how other people live and believe? Is anything or anyone left out? (What values, lifestyles, and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?)

Core Concept #4: Media have embedded values and points of view.

Key Question #1 for Young Children: What is this? How is this put together? (Who created this message?)

Core Concept #1: All media messages are constructed.

Materials: Computer with high speed internet access, LCD projector and screen.

Activity: Begin by asking students about the kinds of toys that they like.  You may wish to point out differences in preferences between boys and girls. Next, show students the Legos Friends ad:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYW_zEYtXeQ&list=PL1E2EC6AAAD0C422B

Ask students, what kinds of things are the girls doing in this ad?  Play the video at least twice, so that students can recall significant details.   Next, play a GoldieBlox ad: http://www.goldieblox.com/pages/beastie-boys-rube-goldberg-machine

Finally, ask students what the Legos Friends and GoldieBlox ads seem to "say" about girls.  What are they supposed to be like?  What are they supposed to do?  Is there anything in particular in the ads that tells them these things? What do they think about these messages?

Extended Activity: Turn the lesson into a multimedia activity by asking your students to come in with a favorite toy, or even the package for one of their favorite toys, and discuss the different messages about gender in their toys and the GoldieBlox video. 


The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework.  Used with permission, ©2002-2014, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com


Last Updated ( Friday, 31 March 2017 11:29 )
 

Witness to Change

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With a single phone or camera, individual citizens have the power to shape the course of history.  In 1991, George Holliday videotaped the beating of criminal suspect Rodney King by LAPD officers from his apartment balcony and sent the tape to a local television station.   Several days of riots ensued after a local jury acquitted all four officers involved.  Two officers were found guilty of federal civil rights violations against King in 1993. 

In 1991, the recording of violent events like King’s beating was a relative novelty.  Today, they are commonplace—so much so that “social news” agencies such as Storyful (www.storyful.com) have been able to make a living by verifying the authenticity of videos recorded by citizen journalists and human rights activists and charging larger news agencies for their services.  In addition, human rights organizations such as Witness (www.witness.org) are training average citizens in the technical, journalistic and ethical practices of human rights videography.  In this MediaLit Moment, your upper elementary and middle school students will learn how to think more deeply about the purpose and social significance of such videos, and they’ll consider some of the choices citizen journalists make as they record and publish them.

Ask students to consider the purposes and techniques of videos which document conflicts or abuses of human rights.

AHA!: People who make these videos can have a lot of power to change things!

Grade Level: 5-7

Key Question #5: Why is this message being sent?

Core Concept #5:  Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.

Key Question #2:  What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

Core Concept #2: Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.

Materials: Computer with high speed internet access, LCD projector and screen.

Activity: Ask students about any videos they’ve seen which documented civil disturbances or human rights abuses.  You can screen an age-appropriate video if you wish (You may find appropriate material from The Square, a Netflix documentary about the 2011 Egyptian revolution and events which followed).  Ask, how do they feel after watching videos like these?  Why do they think that people make videos of these kinds of events?  What’s the purpose of uploading them so that a lot of people can see them? Who is likely to pay attention to them?  What are these people likely to do?

Screen the Witness Tool Kit video “How to Film Protests”

http://www.youtube.com/user/WITNESSToolkit?feature=c4-overview-vl

Why do students think that the narrator tells the people who want to record these videos to make sure that audiences see and hear what they want them to?  Why are they told to select specific images when they’re getting ready to publish them?  You may also want to ask, why does the narrator warn people who want to record these videos that adversaries might use their videos if they’re made public?

Why do they tell the people who want to make these videos to avoid giving away the identity of the people they film or interview?

Extended Activity: Screen the Witness “welcome” video:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlYRTtNrWZk

Why would it be important to verify that the videos are real?  What do they think “curating” means?  Why is that something important to do?


The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework.  Used with permission, ©2002-2014, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com


Last Updated ( Friday, 31 March 2017 11:29 )
 

Breaking Down Breaking News

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“The fact. . .that this individual has been described as someone dressed up in a black top, black jeans—what does that say, if anything, about a possible motive, or whatever?  Can we begin to draw any initial conclusions?  And I want to alert our viewers, sometimes these initial conclusions can obviously be very, very wrong.”  -- CNN correspondent Wolf Blitzer, speaking about the Washington, DC Naval Yard shooting of September 16, 2013.

News commentary of this kind raises some serious questions.  What is the difference between “initial conclusions” and pure speculation?  And why would a respected correspondent like Blitzer be so anxious to offer them?  In this MediaLit Moment, your middle school and early high school students will have a chance to tackle such questions about breaking news stories, and they’ll receive resources to help them keep asking relevant questions about what they see and hear.

Ask students to consider the reasons why broadcasters convey inaccurate or unverified information about breaking news stories.

AHA!: Breaking news reports can be really, really wrong!

Grade Level: 8-10

Key Question #5: Why is this message being sent?

Core Concept #5: Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.

Key Question #2: What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

Core Concept #2: Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.

Materials: computer with high speed internet access; speakers to amplify volume of podcast file; handout to accompany lesson

Activity: NPR’s On the Media website features a TLDR [“Too Long Didn’t Read”] blog that posts original stories on contemporary media issues.  Point your browser to this TLDR blog entry:  “The Breaking News Story Handbook,” from September 20th, 2013.  Currently, the blog post is archived here:  http://www.onthemedia.org/story/breaking-news-consumers-handbook-pdf/?utm_source=local&utm_media=treatment&utm_campaign=carousel&utm_content=item5

In the text of the blog post, you’ll find a link for a “handy, printable PDF” which offers tips for “sorting good information from bad” about breaking news stories.

Select an excerpt from the podcast story which accompanies the blog post, and play it for your students.

Ask students, why are breaking news stories often inaccurate?  Why would news outlets broadcast them if they’re not sure of their accuracy?  Direct students’ attention to Key Question #2 (about news gathering techniques) and Key Question #5 (motivations for early reporting).

Share and discuss the breaking news tip sheet with students.

Extended Activity: Use the podcast, handout and Key Questions to help students practice their skills with a current breaking news story.


The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework.  Used with permission, © 2002-2014, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com

Last Updated ( Friday, 31 March 2017 11:29 )
 

World of Spycraft

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Most players of massively multiplayer online role-playing games are familiar with “trolls”—players who hide behind the anonymity of their avatars to harass other players.  But, as a recent New York Times story reveals, these are not the only users who exploit multiplayer online games for purposes not intended by producers. International government agencies have infiltrated Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft, “trolling” for intelligence on potential terrorist plots carried out online.  In this MediaLit Moment, your middle school students will work with the media triangle (of text, producer and user/audience) to consider the different kinds of players who inhabit online game spaces.

Ask students to compare differing uses of online game spaces

AHA!: I thought it’s just the ‘sys-ads’ who look at what I do in online games, but the government might be doing that, too!

Grade Level: 6-8

Key Question #5:  Why is this message being sent?

Core Concept #5:  Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power

Materials: computer with high speed internet access; LCD projector and screen

Story from digital edition of New York Times, December 9th, 2013:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/10/world/spies-dragnet-reaches-a-playing-field-of-elves-and-trolls.html?_r=0

Reference:  Mazzetti, Mark, and Justin Elliot.  “Spies Infiltrate a Fantasy Realm of Online Games.”  New York Times online  9 December 2013.

Activity: Ask students what they know about massively multiplayer games.  Not everyone in your class will be familiar with them, so enlist the help of students experienced with such games, if needed.  Do they know that the makers of the games are able to view their in-game activity?  Why do they think Blizzard Entertainment does that?  As it turns out, the great bulk of monitoring is done to enforce its end user license agreement—to enforce penalties for players who “grief” other players, cheat the game, or use game content or system files in a way that violates Blizzard’s copyright.

Play the video that accompanies the print story.  Display excerpts from the print story as needed, or simply present key facts during discussion.  Some background should be given on Edward Snowden’s leaking of documents revealing the scope of NSA domestic surveillance programs.

Use a media triangle diagram to highlight the novelty of the relationships involved.  How do they feel about being ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with secret government agents as users of the same game space?   Direct students’ attention to KQ/CC#5, and ask them to consider the differing purposes of game producers and government agencies for monitoring games.

If time permits, stick with KQ/CC#5, and ask students why they think a print-oriented publication like NYT created a video which includes so many scenes of World of Warcraft gameplay.


The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework.  Used with permission, © 2002-2013, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com

Last Updated ( Friday, 31 March 2017 11:30 )
 


Page 7 of 18
Previous Issues:

 21st century skills
 a day in the life of a media literacy educator
 a year in review 2014
 a year in review december 2012
 advertising consumer debt and media literacy
 anytime anywhere learning
 big data
 body image and media literacy
 building a strong foundation
 call to action
 cell phones as learning tools
 change management in schools
 children and media literacy part 2
 children and media literacy
 citizen journalism
 citizenship in the digital age part 2
 citizenship in the digital age
 cml media literacy trilogy
 comics and media literacy
 community media
 criteria for media literacy instruction
 crowdfunding and media literacy
 digital britain
 documentary film and media literacy
 education and creative economy
 education creative economy australia
 fair use for media literacy
 faith and media literacy
 frameworks for inquiry
 global citizenship media literacy
 global education
 globalization
 heuristics nudge theory and the internet of things
 history of media literacy
 leadership elizabeth thoman
 len masterman and the big ideas of media literacy
 libraries museums and informal learning
 maps and media literacy
 media and body image
 media deconstruction as essential learning skill
 media literacy computational thinking
 media literacy risk assessment
 media literacy and 21st century skills
 media literacy and arts education
 media literacy and common core
 media literacy and human rights
 media literacy and masculinity
 media literacy and media construction
 media literacy and nutrition
 media literacy and personal data management
 media literacy and pharmaceutical advertising
 media literacy and science
 media literacy and student empowerment
 media literacy and the environment
 media literacy and video games
 media literacy early childhood education
 media literacy for grown ups
 media literacy in the community
 media literacy pioneers
 media literacy policy and legislation
 media morals and empowerment
 media violence and media relationships
 media violence
 monsters and media literacy
 new curriculum and media literacy
 online privacy and media literacy
 online safety
 parents and media literacy
 participation in what
 professional development for media literacy
 propaganda and media literacy
 reality tv and media literacy
 research media literacy
 responding to racism and stereotypes in media
 sexism in media
 social networking
 sports and media literacy
 systems thinking and media literacy
 teaching healthy skepticism
 television and media literacy
 the mediated city and the public
 the role of journalism in society
 us department of education
 voices of media literacy
 what media literacy is and is not
 whats in a name
 where are we now institutionalizing media literacy

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