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MediaLit Moments

What's Your Brand?

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Most of us have a personal philosophy, or at least a set of values and beliefs which we use to explain our personality and character to ourselves and others.  When we interact with people who are relative strangers, we must convey a public image of ourselves as well.  The fidelity of public images preoccupies many of us when we encounter public personalities via the media. Is this politician making himself out to be somebody he's not just to get my vote?  In this MediaLit Moment, your upper elementary and middle level students will have the chance to learn about public image and personal branding by 'trying on' the role of someone who spends much of their time in the public eye.  They'll also have a lot of fun in the process.

Ask students to construct a public personality for themselves which includes their own real-life character traits

AHA!:  When I present myself to the media, I'm presenting a personal brand!

Grade Level:  5-7

Key Question #4 for Producers:  Have I clearly and consistently framed values, lifestyles and points of view in my content?

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

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: Screen, LCD projector, computer with high-speed Internet connection

For production activity:  Paper, pencil, imagination 

Activity:  Ask students to name different kinds of public personalities--sports stars, politicians, rock musicians, talk show hosts, etc.  Who are some of their favorites in these categories? If you wish, screen a video excerpt of a particular public personality, and discuss the kinds of character traits he or she appears to embody.  Introduce students to KQ #4 and discuss how people promote their public/celebrity image on screen.

Next, ask students to imagine themselves as one of these kinds of personalities.  What would they be doing or saying in this role? (Students are likely to be familiar with the conventions of each role, but introduce them to CC #2 if needed).  How does this personality still genuinely represent their character?  How does it feel to promote themselves in this way? Ask students to write a 30 second script for themselves in this role.  Make sure that students have one or more partners for feedback.

Enjoy sharing and performing scripts in class.

Extended Activity: Students create a 'demo reel' of themselves as a number of different public personalities.


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 ( Tuesday, 02 September 2014 10:13 )
 

Superheroes, New and Improved!

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Summer is here, and Marvel superheroes are. . .getting a makeover?  In a single week, Marvel comics fans have been rocked by the news that Thor can no longer take up the hammer, and must yield it to a woman.  And Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, has shed the cape and bestowed the mantle of Captain America on Sam Wilson, the African-American superhero formerly known as the Falcon.  Usually, audiences view superheroes as standard-bearers for a generic "American Way" that they might not be able to articulate even if they were asked to do so.  Makeovers like these, however, stimulate the moral and sociological imagination of audiences by reminding them that superheroes can and do represent specific values, lifestyles and points of view.  In this MediaLit Moment, your late elementary and middle school students will get the chance to revise their favorite fantasy characters to embody--and even deliver--the message of their choice.

Ask students to "revise" a fantasy character they already like

AHA!: By changing this character, I can say things that are important to me!

Grade Level:  4-7

Key Question #4 for Producers:  Have I clearly and consistently framed values, lifestyles and points of view in my content?

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: Paper, pencil, imagination

Activity: Deliver the news to students about the recent changes to Marvel characters if they haven't heard it already, and ask for their reactions (If you wish, display or play relevant media to help engage them in the activity). If they read comic books often, have they seen similar changes before?

Familiarize students with KQ and CC #4.  One way of introducing students to the concept is to ask, what might these new versions of classic superheroes have to say about themselves, and why?  Since these changes have to do with race and gender, you may want to ask questions to heighten students' awareness of larger social issues.

Next, ask students to pick a fantasy character they like, and change that character to reflect their own outlook on the world. Producing a sketch should help students imagine and present the changes to their character.  Has that character changed radically (like Thor or Captain America)?  Have they simply picked up a new hobby?  Next, ask students to explain the significance of the changes they've made.  Is there something new this character has to say? What would the world be like if this character indeed had the power to change the world? As discussion continues, help students recognize that they're exchanging different points of view about what an ideal world should be like.


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, 25 July 2014 07:55 )
 

Keep Your Comments Brief and Planet-Sized

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Most science and media literacy activities are based on news stories, which are rich fields for questions about the agendas of scientific researchers, and the agendas of media producers.  But what about science as entertainment?  The recent re-boot of the classic science television series Cosmos uses many eye-catching media techniques to inform, to inspire wonder, and occasionally to persuade.  What would it be like to speak not just the language of science, but to speak the visual language of this series?  In this MediaLit Moment, your middle level students will learn how to conceptualize and use these techniques to inform, to persuade, and to provide audience opportunities for perspective taking.

Ask students to create a storyboard or produce a visual that uses perspective or scale to reinforce the purpose of their media message

AHA!: With a show like Cosmos, it's the use of scale and perspective that really grabs my attention!

Grade Level: 6-9

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

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 #5 for Producers: Have I communicated my purpose effectively? 

Materials: Computer with high speed internet access, LCD projector and screen. OR DVD player and television.

Activity: Engage students in a conversation about the new Cosmos series.  Have they seen it?  Did they like it?  If they did, what did they like about it? What really grabbed their attention?  Depending on your schedule (and depending on whether you teach science or some other subject), screen the entire Cosmos episode 12, "The Worlds Set Free," about global warming.  Single episodes are available to stream on Amazon and other platforms for about $2.  A DVD of the entire series would require an investment of about $50.   Alternatively, screen clips.  In any case, find sequences which illustrate the problems of or solutions to global warming; for example, the cliffs of Dover rising to illustrate the world's increasing carbon output, or a massive wind farm in the ocean illustrating wind power as an alternative energy source.

Screen these sequences at least a couple of times.  Ask students, what kinds of visual techniques were used?  How are they different from the kinds of visuals presented in other TV series? You may want to discuss KQ#2 with students.  You may need to introduce the concepts of scale and perspective.  Also ask, for what purpose were these techniques used?  Direct students' attention to KQ#5. 

Next, ask students to write a comment about global warming.  They can comment on problems, or solutions.  They may also write a comment intended to help audiences comprehend the planetary scale of the issue.  Students can use their comments as the basis for creating a storyboard - a visual sequence which reinforces their ideas.  Direct the attention of students to KQ#2 for Producers and KQ#5 for Producers. If media production tools are available in your school, so much the better.  If students are allowed to bring their own device to school, this may provide an avenue for production as well.  Make production feedback available in whatever format is desired--individual, online, group, whole-class, etc.

Extended Activity: You may wish to screen the sequence of deGrasse Tyson's commentary on the change of perspective brought by images of Earth sent back from Apollo lunar missions.


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 ( Thursday, 26 June 2014 09:04 )
 

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 ( Monday, 26 May 2014 10:58 )
 

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 ( Monday, 21 April 2014 09:44 )
 
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