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MediaLit Moments

This Is My Life - Or Is It?

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Popular media can indeed be formulaic.  Witness this line of dialogue from the latest Superman reboot:  “You’re a monster, Zod, and I’m going to stop you!”  Audiences are often willing to forgive formulaic plot scenarios because they’re still entertaining.  Must we be in a critical or unforgiving mood in order to be good, media literate critics?  In this MediaLit Moment, we reverse engineer the process of criticism.  Instead of starting as critics, your upper elementary students will have the chance to reflect on their lives as a kind of text, complete with themes and characterization, and they’ll use the insights they gain to explore the construction of media texts with an open mind.

Ask students to identify themes in their lives, and to identify media characters who seem to share them.

AHA!: I have a lot in common with this character, but that doesn’t mean I have to do the same things she does!

Key Question #1: Who created this message?

Core Concept #1: All media messages are constructed.

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.

Grade Level: 4-6

Materials: Pencil, paper, imagination

Activity: At this point it’s likely that you’ve discussed themes in literature with your students.  Introduce the idea that people also have themes in their lives.  Life themes can reflect ongoing challenges (e.g., struggles for independence), moral statements (e.g., good friends are priceless), or repeating patterns (e.g., so much effort for so little return).  Life themes are as various as literary themes.  Have any of your students said, “Yeah, that’s the soundtrack of my life”?  Anyone who has ever felt invisible is likely to resonate with the aphorism: “Children are best seen and not heard.”  After this discussion, ask students to work in pairs, and ask each student to write one or more words which describe himself.  Then ask them to discuss the kinds of events, feelings and phrases that seem to follow from those descriptions—their life themes.

Next, ask students to think of popular media texts with characters who seem to have the same life themes.  Open up the floor for a whole class discussion of media characters and their life themes.  Next, ask students to pay attention to the plots of those texts, and the choices which characters make.  Would they make the same choices or different ones?  Why do the characters in these texts make the choices they make?  As students encounter the apparent inevitability of the choices media characters make, draw attention to Core Concepts #1 and #2.


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 11:33 )
 

Some You 'Like' and Some You Don't

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“‘Like’ if you support this brave little boy’s struggle against cancer!”  Anyone who spends time on social media is likely to encounter a post like this.  How does one react?  It seems cruel and heartless not to respond, and yet the author of the post does little to establish a personal connection with her audience.  Activism in social media spaces has its limitations as well.  When audiences receive tweets, posts, petitions and polls from multiple organizations, choosing a cause may be more like picking a flavor or a brand.  How empowered do audiences feel as they click, like, pin, or sign?  Are they engaged enough to do more?  In this MediaLit Moment, your students will articulate why some appeals are less than inspiring, and they’ll develop a concept for a message they believe is likely to motivate audiences to support a cause.

Have students develop a concept for a media message which promotes a cause

AHA!: Some messages make audiences want to walk away!

Key Question #3: How might people understand this message differently?

Key Question #3 for Producers: Is my message engaging and compelling for my target audience?

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

Key Question #2 for Producers: Does my message reflect understanding in format, creativity and technology?

Grade Level:  6+

Materials: For sample non-profit ad:  computer, high speed internet connection, data projector.  For construction activity:  paper, pencil, imagination.

Activity: Ask students for examples of annoying or uninspiring social media posts that asked them to contribute to a cause in some way.  If they need any prompting, you can mention the scenario presented in the introduction to this activity.  What made the posts or tweets so annoying?  Direct students’ attention to Key Question #3, especially if there are any differences of opinion.  Direct students’ attention to Key Question #2.  Did it have to do with the media format and/or the techniques the producer used?  Students may conclude that a good pro-social message can be hard to find.

Next, ask students to evaluate a Greenpeace PSA which encourages audiences to take action against the increasing impacts of global warming on the Arctic.  Did they find it compelling?  Does it motivate them to become involved?  Why or why not?

http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/multimedia/videos/A-Homeless-Polar-Bear-in-London/

Next, divide students into pairs or groups and ask them to sketch out a concept for an engaging message promoting a cause.  They may choose any media format they wish.  Ask students to include a call to action in the message.  When the activity is complete, ask them to explain their creative choices.  How is the message likely to attract audiences to the cause?


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 11:32 )
 

The Heroine's Code

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Male heroes in media aren’t necessarily a dime a dozen, but traditional conventions for the male action hero extend back to at least the 1930s (Superman is now 75), and those conventions can be hard to bend.  Heroines may be few, and often sexualized, but they’re not expected to fulfill male conventions, and they clearly come in different varieties.  For example, Wonder Woman stands for truth and tolerance, while Ripley from the “Alien” series is a hard-nosed survivalist.  In this MediaLit Moment, your students will learn how to articulate the moral and ethical codes of media heroines.  In the process, they’ll gain new perspectives on familiar characters, as well as new perspectives on themselves.

Have students compare their code of ethics with those of various media heroines

AHA!: I like these characters, but I might not want to be just like them!

Key Question #4: 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.

Grade Level: 7-9

Materials:  pencil, paper, imagination

Activity: Ask students to name some different media heroines.  Here’s a sampling:  Katniss Aberdeen from “The Hunger Games,” Captain Janeway from the “Star Trek Voyager” series; Xena, Warrior Princess; Sarah Connor from the “Terminator” series, Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series; Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  And, of course, Wonder Woman.  Do they have any favorites?  Do any of these characters seem to fall into particular types?  What might those types be?  Play clips from selected films/shows if you wish.  You may find useful background material in a PBS documentary released this month titled “Wonder Women!: The Untold Story of American Superheroines.”

Next, ask students to work in pairs or groups.  Ask them to select two heroines, preferably of different types, and ask them to write down the goals of these characters in the stories in which they appear.  Next, explain the meaning of the term “code of ethics.”  Everyone has an underlying philosophy of life, and some people are more “up front” about their philosophy—they “stand” for something.  It might help to give them a model like the Golden Rule.  Next, ask what is the ethical code that these characters live by?  Students should be able to say what those codes are, but allow them to use different modes of expression if they feel like doing so (comics, song, role-play, etc.). 

Next, ask, what’s their philosophy of life?  As students answer, lead a whole class discussion in which students compare their philosophy with those of other characters.  Do they like characters more or less after writing out a code of ethics for them?  Do any of them identify with characters based on that code?  (Boys don’t have to closely identify with a female character in order to appreciate their philosophy of life).  Do they like a character, but would like to “tweak” their code so it’s a bit more in line with their own?

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 11:33 )
 

When Disability is in the Imagination of the Beholder

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A single photographic image can convey a metaphoric resonance which speaks of something larger than the image itself.  By the same token, it can deliver a shorthand message which becomes little more than a stereotype.  Such is the challenge of representing an individual with a physical disability.  In this MediaLit Moment, your students will compare depictions of amputees across different media.  In the process, they’ll learn how to articulate the differing responses each representation elicits from them.

Have students compare a still image of an amputee with an animated story about someone who lost a limb.

AHA!: When I look at the news photo, I focus on the missing limbs.  When I watch the cartoon documentary, I imagine what that person is thinking and feeling!

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

Key Question #4: What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

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

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

Grade Level: 9-12

Materials: computer, high speed internet connection, data projector, screen

Activity: Begin by asking students what comes to mind when they think about people who have lost a limb.  Tell them that they’re about to see a news photo of an amputee.  You may want to assure them you’re not going to show them anything gory.  As you display the photo, ask, whose point of view is represented?  What does the photo seem to “say” about the subject?  What are their responses to it?  Covering the caption can aid students in the process of visual analysis.  (The people shown in both media have been victims of landmines or cluster munitions, so there is plenty of narrative context to discuss later on).  You’ll find the photo at:  http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2012/06/afghanistan-may-2012/100310/ Look for photo number 7 in the series.

Next, show them a sequence from cartoonist Patrick Chappatte’s “Death in the Fields,” an animated documentary on the dangers that unexploded cluster munitions pose to civilians living in southern Lebanon.   The sequence tells the story of Chappatte’s visit with Rasha Zayoun, and begins at about 5:20 into the video, and ends at about 7:00:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KFfP4wiluA&ref=patrickchappatte

Ask, how is her amputation depicted?  From whose point of view is the story told, and where is audience attention directed?  How are Rasha’s wishes and dreams conveyed?  What are their responses to this sequence?  How do these compare with their responses to the photo?

Extension:

Most depictions of amputees convey a sense of tragedy or triumph against the odds.  Ask students to search for and comment on pictures and stories which break these stereotypes (or to produce their own).


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 11:33 )
 

What's in a Bottle of Coke?

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When advertisements attempt to associate certain values with a brand, they often deploy images which subtly reference those values.  Not so with a brand like Coca Cola.  In 1971, Coca Cola’s “I’d like to teach the world to sing” television commercial forged a direct link between Coke and world peace.  In this MediaLit Moment, your students will examine a 2013 Superbowl commercial from Coca Cola which utilizes a variety of documentary images to make a statement about the brand.  The fun—and the challenge—of the activity lies in identifying the values, lifestyles and beliefs which “fit” within the brand.

Have students analyze how a television commercial attributes positive values to a brand

AHA!:  The producers of this commercial want me to believe that Coca Cola is part of everything that’s good about the world!

Key Question #4:  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 #5:  Why was this message sent?

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

Grade Level:  5-8

Materials: computer, high speed internet connection, data projector, screen

Activity: Ask students if any of them watched the Superbowl.  Did they have any favorite commercials? Do they remember any that were really patriotic?  Commercials for Jeep and Dodge trucks might come to mind.  Tell students that they’re going to take a closer look at a Superbowl commercial for Coca Cola which also says that the product stands for something: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sngjAw3TRPk

Play the commercial twice and allow students some time for comments and questions.  The commercial makes use of security camera footage to “discover” people around the world in   their best or most altruistic moments.  Ask, how does the commercial make them feel?  How does the security camera footage in the commercial help to make them feel that way?

If time permits, give them a basis for comparison by playing a Superbowl commercial for Hyundai which utilizes fantasy and wish fulfillment to “say” something about the brand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAe-06mUHkI

Next, discuss Key Question #4 with them, and ask them to apply the question directly to the Coca Cola commercial.  If time permits, ask them to consider the music and captions that frame the security camera content.

Discuss Core Concept #5 with students, and ask a few questions about the product and the purpose of the commercial.  Where does the product appear in the commercial?  What do the final images suggest about the product?  Overall, what does the commercial “say” about Coca Cola?  Why would the producers of the commercial want to say this?


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 11:33 )
 


Page 9 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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