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MediaLit Moments

The Art and Craft of Magazine Covers

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In this MediaLit Moment, students are encouraged to deconstruct a magazine cover from this season’s presidential campaign. By looking closely at the design and purpose of a message, students discover that most media messages are constructed by professionals who are eager to sell a product or idea. Our thanks to Frank Baker for providing the images for this activity.

Ask students about the creative decisions made when designing political magazine covers

AHA! These covers were designed with a message in mind.

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 #5: Why is this message being sent?
Core Concept #5:
Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.

Materials: Computer with internet access and projector. Find the magazine covers by using this link: http://www.frankwbaker.com/mlc/2016-presidential-candidates-magazine-covers/

Activity: Put the covers up on the screen for all to see. Remind students that each cover started out blank–an editorial team working with a graphic designer collaborated to decide what goes on the cover. Have them take a moment to look at headlines, fonts, colors, photography, lighting, etc. Ask students which creative techniques attracted their attention? What did they see first when looking at the covers? Why were these particular photos, illustrations, fonts, headlines chosen?  To sell? To entertain? To make a call to action? To encourage – or discourage -- a vote?

Extended Activity: As a class, agree on a topic and have students create their own magazine covers with image and headline.


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, ©2002-2016, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com.

Last Updated ( Friday, 08 April 2016 10:14 )
 

He Named Me Malala

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“He Named Me Malala” is a 2015 documentary directed by Davis Guggenheim; the story explores the life of Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban for championing girls’ education in Pakistan, and who subsequently became the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

This videoclip from the documentary is the opening of the film, and it features an animated version of the story of the Afghani folk heroine Malalai of Maiwand, for whom Malala Yousafzai’s father named her. This animated opening provides a frame for the remainder of the documentary, which contains subsequent animated sections as well as interviews and recordings representing Yousafzai’s life.

Ask students why this animated story is chosen for the opening of a documentary film.

AHA! Malala Yousafzai’s name provides inspiration for her life and for the telling of her story.

Grade Level: 6-12

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 #4: What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in – or omitted from – this message?
Core Concept #4:
Media have embedded values, lifestyles and points of view.

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

Activity: Use the videoclip* (2:15 minutes long) found at http://ow.ly/Z0nWM.

Before identifying the film that the videoclip is taken from, ask the students if the animated clip caught their attention. What did they like or dislike about the creative techniques used to tell the story? If time permits, show the clip again. Then have the students list out the values, lifestyles and points of view they identify in the clip.  Be sure to have students address omissions, such as other points of view.  Students may want to explore historical information about the opponents and the context surrounding the battle depicted, or typical customs regarding women at the time.

After analyzing and discussing the videoclip, provide students with the name of the documentary and ask students what their expectations may be of Malala Yousafzai, the contemporary girl whom the documentary features.  What kind of girl might they expect to meet or see?

Extended Activities: A complete teaching guide, “He Named Me Malala,” is available free from Journeys in Film, http://journeysinfilm.org/films/he-named-me-malala/. Once students have had an opportunity to explore the framing of Malala’s story from the standpoint of the opening animation using a media literacy approach, it is illuminating to contrast and compare Malala Yousafzai’s own story with that of the ancient heroine. 

Additionally, the book authored by Yousafzai, “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban,” provides another media venue to explore Yousafzai’s story, allowing for a comparison between various approaches possible through different mediums.

* The videoclip is excerpted from the 2015 film “He Named Me Malala.” CML thanks Fox Searchlight Pictures for permission to use this clip for educational purposes.


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, ©2002-2016, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com

Last Updated ( Thursday, 03 March 2016 14:42 )
 

Liar, Liar Pants on Fire!

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In September 2013, a video of what appeared to be a young woman “twerking” upside down on her door, falling down on her living room table and catching fire from nearby candles provoked a sensation on social media.  In addition, local news channels around the country carried the video for the opportunity to comment (tongue-in-cheek) about the dangers of twerking.  In all, the video attracted nine million views. The video turned out to be an elaborate fake staged by the Jimmy Kimmel Show.

Ask students what they think might be suspect about a viral video.

AHA!:  Just because this video looks like it was produced at home doesn’t mean that it wasn’t professionally staged or altered.

Grade Level:  8-12

Key Question #2: What creative techniques attracted 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

Activity: The video can be easily found on YouTube, using search words such as “twerking girl catches fire.”  It’s about 37 seconds long.  Make sure not to load any videos bearing the Jimmy Kimmel logo.  If you like, you can ever-so-slightly misdirect students by asking students to share their thoughts about videos on social media that might fall under the heading of “do not attempt at home.”  (The woman in the video is a trained stunt woman,by the way).

Storyful (storyful.com), which curates, licenses and verifies a wide variety of social media and news content, promotes its services with a number of brief case studies.  Among them is a study debunking the ‘twerking girl on fire’ video.  The study includes a number of questions posed by staff, as well as a short narrative on the processes used to document the video as a ‘certfiable fake.’ Make use of these materials as you wish to help students act as detectives searching out the truth about the production of this video.  Once you’re satisfied with student work and discussion, play the full version in which Jimmy Kimmel appears on screen to extinguish the fire on the woman’s yoga pants.



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, ©2002-2016, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com.

Last Updated ( Monday, 15 February 2016 11:28 )
 

Social Media Shuts Down Offensive Ad

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In November of this year, Bloomingdale’s produced a holiday print ad in which a man looks intently at a woman in a care-free pose who’s laughing and looking away. The text reads, “Spike your best friend’s egg nog when they’re not looking.” The ad drew a spectacularly negative response over social media channels. An example of the ad, and the apology from Bloomingdale’s, can be found here: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/nov/11/bloomingdales-apologizes-holiday-ad-date-rape-joke.

In this MediaLit Moment, your high school students will have the chance to critique this ad in a number of different ways.

Ask students to respond to the ad in short form, such as a Tweet, thought bubble, or altered tag line.
 

AHA!: There are so many ways to use media to express how offensive this ad is. We’ve got the power!

Grade Level: 10-12

Key Question #4: What values, lifestyles and points of view are embedded in, or omitted from, this message?
Core Concept #4: Media have embedded values and points of view.
Key Question K#4 for Producers: Have I clearly and consistently framed values, lifestyles and points of view in my content?
Key Question #5 for Producers: Have I communicated my purpose effectively?
Core Concept #5: Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.

Materials: Bloomingdale’s print ad and scissors, paper and paste; paper and pencil; or a screen image projected via data projector which can be altered with ed tech tools such as Phrase.It or Bubble Ply.

Activity: Show the ad to students and ask for their general reactions. How did it make them feel? Next, ask them to imagine what they think the advertisers were trying to convey. What makes it offensive or tasteless? What message does the ad convey about men and women in society? Introduce a sample Tweet about the ad to class: “Here's Bloomingdale's advertising festive date rape and non-consensual drug abuse to sell fashion. Stay classy.” @ DrJackMonroe. What makes the criticism in this Tweet particularly effective? Depending on the materials you choose or have at your disposal, ask students to produce their own responses to the ad. If using paper and pencil, try to keep the text short, like the sample Tweet. Display student work and discuss.


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, ©2002-2016, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 14 January 2016 14:32 )
 

I'm Representin' (myself)

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One of the simplest and most meaningful media products a young child can make is a creative representation of him or herself. In this MediaLit Moment, your children or young students will get the chance to make creative decisions about what represents their character or identity.

Ask students to create a photographic scene which tells audiences something about who they are.

AHA!: I have to make choices to show who I am!

Grade Level: K to 2

Key Question #1 for Young Children: What am I making? How do I put it together?
Core Concept #1 for Media Literacy: All media messages are constructed.

Key Question #2 for Young Children: What do I see or hear/touch or taste? What do I like or dislike about this?
Core Concept #2 for Media Literacy: Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.

Materials: Your choice of high tech or low. Use a multimedia portfolio system such as Kaymbu, or a low-budget camera.

Activity: Ask your child or student to take a photo that will appear at the beginning of their digital portfolio, or that could be posted to their cubby (or any relatively sizeable classroom item that belongs to them). Encourage the use of props, gestures, facial expressions, art work or even text to make a statement about who they are or what they are like.

After the photo's been taken, ask them to explain the creative choices they made. What did they tell other kids and adults about who they are?


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, ©2002-2015, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 09 December 2015 11:12 )
 
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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
 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
 citizen journalism
 cml media literacy trilogy
 comics and media literacy
 community media
 criteria for media literacy instruction
 digital britain
 documentary film and media literacy
 fair use for media literacy
 faith and media literacy
 frameworks for inquiry
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 heuristics nudge theory and the internet of things
 history of media literacy
 len masterman and the big ideas of media literacy
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 media deconstruction as essential learning skill
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 teaching healthy skepticism
 television and media literacy
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 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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