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Fact vs. Fiction: Teaching Media Literacy in the Classroom

Teachers have always played an important role in supporting their students’ curiosity about the world. The everyday presence of smartphones and internet access has shifted the way that students understand current events. With a world of information now at students’ fingertips, emphasizing media literacy is one key tool that teachers can use to guide students toward the credible and away from the questionable in 2019.
Now that over two-thirds of Americans get at least some of their news from social media, it is especially important for students to weed out what is fact and what is fiction. Whether you teach elementary, middle, or high school, media literacy will help your students draw connections between concepts, encourage student-centered learning, and help students recognize how they fit in to our larger society. Check out how some teachers have used DonorsChoose.org to request materials  to teach media literacy in their classrooms.
Media Literacy Brings the World into Your Classroom
Ms. Ramirez chose graphic novels to teach her elementary students about media literacy because they offer both visual and textual information to analyze with an added bonus—her students already love them. Mrs. Ramirez writes that media literacy prepares her students to “process and understand the many messages we receive from our media environment,” which are crucial skills for their success. That’s not all – along with reading March, by Congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis, Ms. Ramirez will also empower her students to make their own graphic novel on a historical topic.
Empower Educated Youth With Media Literacy
In order to keep his high schoolers up-to-date with current events, Mr. Stein requested subscriptions to a news magazine aimed at young adult audiences. Not only does the subscription come with teaching resources, Mr. Stein also requires his students to read, reflect on, and discuss at least one current news article every week. “When my students leave my class at the end of the school year, my goal is for them to be more literate about what’s going on in the world which, in turn will increase their capacity to empathize with others,” shared Mr. Stein. He likes that the articles give immediacy to topics that may otherwise feel mundane for his high schoolers.
Teach Students To Analyze Media Literacy
For her early readers, Mrs. Bragdon created a project for a suite of kid-friendly magazines that she’ll use to promote critical thinking and analysis of media information. “I want to teach my students how to analyze information and make sure they have the materials to succeed,” said Mrs. Bragdon. She’s also incorporated flashlights to get her students excited about spotlighting media stories on her classroom reading series, Flashlight Fridays. Mrs. Bragdon is excited to teach media literacy because it will prepare her students to evaluate media information, as opposed to simply retaining it.
Student Engagement Through Media Literacy
Using a hands-on approach, Mr. Purdie integrated media literacy into his ELA lesson plan by creating a project for a classroom computer. Mr. Purdie wanted the computer to enable his middle school mediamakers to create multimedia projects and “participate in media literacy competitions.” He was inspired to do so after hearing many of his students express interest in media broadcasting and tech-related careers. By helping his classroom gain media production know-how, Mr. Purdie hopes to, “foster students’ media literacy skills and cultivate their curiosity for learning.”
Invite Your Students to Be Critical of the Real World
Ms. C opened a project for 23 books on media literacy that would introduce media theories and concepts necessary for filtering through today’s media landscape. As her students prepare to graduate, Ms. C wanted to ensure that her school library had media literacy resources to prepare them for life after high school. “Our students need media literacy education and materials more than ever in order to navigate and evaluate the dynamic, and often uncertain media world they live in,” Ms. C writes.
Teachers, want to add media literacy tools to your classroom?
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