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Scary Tactics

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If you watched all of the horror films released in October, you would not sleep a wink. Have you thought about the ways filmmakers use creative techniques to make their audiences tremble with fright? Have some Halloween fun with this activity.

Deconstruct a clip of a scary movie trailer to identify creative techniques.

AHA! Suspensful music and creative photography make this movie seem really scary!

Grade Level: 5-8

Key Question #1: Who created this message?

Core Concept #1: Media messages are constructed.
Key Word: Author
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.
Key Word: Format
Key Question #5: Why is this message being sent?
Core Concept: #5: Most messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.
Key Word: Purpose

Materials: Movie trailer from an appropriately rated scary movie. This link is for the new Goosebumps Haunted Halloween movie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EbOgr4aTvM rated PG. For younger audiences try Coraline rated G or visit Common Sense Media list of scary movies for children.

Activity: Show the trailer three times, in this order: Sound only (no video), Video only (no sound), and full video with sound. Do not comment between showings. At the end, ask students which version was scariest, why? Using Key Question #2, discuss the effects of sound, music, lighting, and camera angles. Reinforce that all media messages are constructed by someone (Key Question #1) for a specific purpose (Key Question #5).

The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit KitTM and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)TM framework. Used with permission, © 2002-2018, Center for Media Literacy.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 24 October 2018 08:38 )
 

The Question of Polling

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Polling, especially around election time, has always been big business but this type of information gathering is also widely used to get a sense of where the public stands regarding an issue, idea, or product. But who’s doing the asking? How is the question phrased? And, how is the data presented to the public? These are all factors to consider when reading a poll and this is where questions about author, audience, and purpose can help you interpret the data.

A recent study by Common Sense Media found that teens, when asked, preferred Snapchat and Instagram to Facebook. The authors were intentionally studying teens, but what if you wanted to know about the whole population– would the responses to the same question be different?

Ask students to poll friends and family members about their favorite social media sites.

AHA! Who you ask makes a difference!

Grade Level: 6-8

Materials: Discuss the findings of the report on teen social media use, as well as any other examples of polling you want to address (see Pew Research for more examples). FYI: Polls typically stick to one question with a multiple choice answer. Surveys ask multiple questions with broader range. Review the Key Questions/Core Concepts for Media Literacy.

Key Question #1: Who created this message?
Core Concept #1: Media messages are constructed.
Key Word: Author
Key Question #3: How might different people understand this message differently?
Core Concept #3: Different people experience the same message differently.
Key Word: Audience
Key Question #5: Why is this message being sent?
Core Concept: #5: Most messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.
Key Word: Purpose

Activity: Ask your students to poll 15 of their friends and family members --including varying ages and generations-- about their preferred social media sites. Ask students to write down the question they will use to poll their audience, and stress to them the importance of asking exactly the same question to each participant. There should be no attempt by the pollster to influence the responses. Have students tally the results and create a basic bar graph to share with the class. Does the data match their personal views or are they surprised? If they break down the data by age or gender, does the outcome change? Would the outcome change if there were more choices or if the question was phrased differently?

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,© 2002-2018, Center for Media Literacy.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 23 September 2018 13:25 )
 

Fair Share

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It’s a pretty solid guess that your students participated as consumers and producers of media during their summer break, and it’s also likely that they shared materials without understanding copyright laws and permissions. Since we are all media producers these days, it’s important to know the guidelines around sharing and re-mixing existing content. Understanding copyright and fair use go hand in hand with being media literate.  

Introduce copyright and fair use, and how it might affect the choices students make.

AHA!: There is more to sharing than clicking a button!
Grade Level: 6-9
Materials: Copyright video, large screen, smart phone

Key Question #1: Who created this message?
Core Concept #1: All media messages are constructed.  
Key Word #1: Authorship
Key Question #5: Why is this message being sent?
Core Concept #5: Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.
Key Word #5: Purpose

Activity: Open the conversation by asking your students if they know about copyright and the laws around respecting existing materials found online i.e. music, videos, photos, art, writing, or anything else created by someone else. Review the Key Questions, Core Concepts, and Key Words.

Show the video Creativity, Copyright, and Fair Use for Ethical Digital Citizens by iKeepSafe.org https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B44ApZf7tqOVM3FDLWtDV2prbjQ/view

After the video, bring out your own phone and play a popular song that your students will recognize – one you have legally downloaded. Ask these questions:

Who created this song? Who is the artist/author?

How do you think I got this song onto my phone? (paid for the download).

Now that I have paid for it, can I just give it to all of you because you’re my friends? (no, they must also pay for it to protect the author’s creative rights).

What if we want to use this song for a specific class project? For example, as background music in a video or slide show, can we? (yes, under Fair Use for education).

What if you later decide you want to use the same song in a video outside of school, can you? (no, the song is copyrighted, you would need to pay or get permission. Fair Use allows for educational/classroom purposes only. The purpose of how the material is used, is of the utmost importance.)

If you created artwork or recorded a song, would you mind if other people used it on the internet? Would it depend on their purpose? What if their purpose is to make money off of it? Do you see how copyright laws protect the rights of artists, creators, and producers of media?


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,© 2002-2018, Center for Media Literacy.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 02 August 2018 12:27 )
 

Incredibly Hard to Tell

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A recent study from Pew Research indicates that Americans struggle to tell fact from opinion even within the same article. In the past, newspapers had clearly marked sections designated as News, Opinion, Sports or Entertainment and the distinctions were obvious. Today, as articles are shared online and out of context, the lines are blurred. The recent release of Incredibles 2 has resulted in lots of media coverage – everything from financial reports to movie reviews. 

Let’s see if students can tell what’s fact and what’s opinion.

AHA!: It can be hard to tell and some articles contain both!

Grade Level: 7-10

Materials: Forbes article on Incredibles 2 is written like a financial report but is also a movie review. The author is a media columnist who reports on the film industry. https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottmendelson/2018/06/20/box-office-incredibles-2-scores-record-27m-tuesday/#7c02cc9157ae

Key Question #1: Who created this message?
Core Concept #1: All media messages are constructed.
Key Question #3: How might different people understand this message differently?
Core Concept #3: Different people experience the same message differently.
Key Question #4: What values, lifestyles and points of view are included or omitted?
Core Concept #4: Media have embedded values and points of view.

Activity: Have your students read the Forbes article. Ask for a show of hands indicating if this is an opinion piece or a news report. Have a few students explain their reasoning. Then offer the descriptions below and talk about ways to identify fact vs. opinion.

News is fact-related and verifiable. Often includes statistics and/or quotes from experts. Usually written by a professional journalist, word choice tends to be descriptive rather than emotional. The goal is to inform readers by reporting who, what, when, where.

Opinion (or Editorial) pieces are written by individuals tasked with presenting their side of the story. Often in the form of a column or a review. The goal is to sway the reader to the author’s point of view.

It’s helpful to know who authored the piece and what their job title is: reporter, columnist, news anchor, talk show host, activist, etc. This will give you some indication of their role and purpose. It is not uncommon, as seen in the Forbes article, that columnists also provide facts. News articles should include facts only.

Ask your students: Are lines blurred? Is it hard to tell? Why is the distinction important? Why does it matter? Are both types of information interesting? When sharing information online, should it be noted if you are sharing news or opinion? Use the Key Questions and Core Concepts in your discussion.


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,© 2002-2018, Center for Media Literacy.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 24 June 2018 08:21 )
 

Ask the Experts

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Some journalists have recently taken it upon themselves to seek a more balanced male/female citing of experts when reporting on important subjects in the news. According to Who Makes the News? (GMMP 2015), women are quoted as experts or spokespersons only 20% of the time. This has gone relatively unnoticed for decades due to a scarcity of women in certain fields, but now with more and more women in science and technology, there are many female voices to include in the coverage.

Read three news reports on science or technology and identify the quoted experts.

AHA! Journalists choose who they quote as experts!

Key Question #1: Who created this message?
Core Concept #1: Media messages are constructed.
Key Question #3: How might different people understand this message differently?
Core Concept #3: Different people experience the same message differently.
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.

Materials: Access to articles online and/or printed, pens or highlighters to tally names within the articles. Read this opinion piece to help prepare and explain the activity .https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/13/opinion/women-sexism-journalism-conferences.html

Activity: Ask your students to read three different articles in science or technology (i.e.artificial intelligence, neuroscience, robotics, space exploration...). Students can read printed articles, or read online using a tally sheet. Circle or tally the expert quotes and share with the class.

What were the results? Are the results surprising? Why or why not? If the class discovered that one gender was quoted far more often, does it matter? Why or why not? What can be done about it? Who chooses what’s included or omitted? Use the Key Questions/Core Concepts in your discussion.

The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit KitTM and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)TM framework. Used with permission, © 2002-2018, Center for Media Literacy.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 19 July 2018 10:39 )
 
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