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World of Spycraft

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Most players of massively multiplayer online role-playing games are familiar with “trolls”—players who hide behind the anonymity of their avatars to harass other players.  But, as a recent New York Times story reveals, these are not the only users who exploit multiplayer online games for purposes not intended by producers. International government agencies have infiltrated Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft, “trolling” for intelligence on potential terrorist plots carried out online.  In this MediaLit Moment, your middle school students will work with the media triangle (of text, producer and user/audience) to consider the different kinds of players who inhabit online game spaces.

Ask students to compare differing uses of online game spaces

AHA!: I thought it’s just the ‘sys-ads’ who look at what I do in online games, but the government might be doing that, too!

Grade Level: 6-8

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

Story from digital edition of New York Times, December 9th, 2013:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/10/world/spies-dragnet-reaches-a-playing-field-of-elves-and-trolls.html?_r=0

Reference:  Mazzetti, Mark, and Justin Elliot.  “Spies Infiltrate a Fantasy Realm of Online Games.”  New York Times online  9 December 2013.

Activity: Ask students what they know about massively multiplayer games.  Not everyone in your class will be familiar with them, so enlist the help of students experienced with such games, if needed.  Do they know that the makers of the games are able to view their in-game activity?  Why do they think Blizzard Entertainment does that?  As it turns out, the great bulk of monitoring is done to enforce its end user license agreement—to enforce penalties for players who “grief” other players, cheat the game, or use game content or system files in a way that violates Blizzard’s copyright.

Play the video that accompanies the print story.  Display excerpts from the print story as needed, or simply present key facts during discussion.  Some background should be given on Edward Snowden’s leaking of documents revealing the scope of NSA domestic surveillance programs.

Use a media triangle diagram to highlight the novelty of the relationships involved.  How do they feel about being ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with secret government agents as users of the same game space?   Direct students’ attention to KQ/CC#5, and ask them to consider the differing purposes of game producers and government agencies for monitoring games.

If time permits, stick with KQ/CC#5, and ask students why they think a print-oriented publication like NYT created a video which includes so many scenes of World of Warcraft gameplay.


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 11:30 )
 

Serving Thanksgiving Twitter

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Twitter is a unique medium.  In a single feed, it can serve up expert and professional blogs, personal opinion, and news from international outlets and from widely varying viewpoints.   In this MediaLit Moment, your social studies students will have fun examining different flavors of tweets (and linked content) about the first Thanksgiving, and will learn how to ask questions to evaluate their source and point of view.

Ask students to evaluate a spectrum of tweets on the same topic for their sources and points of view

AHA!: I’m getting some of the same information, but the way it’s put together is so different from tweet to tweet!

Grade Level: 7-9

Key Question #1: Who created this message?

Core Concept #1: All media messages are constructed.

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

Core Concept #4: All media messages have embedded values and points of view

Materials: computer with high speed internet access; LCD projector and screen

Activity: Twitter feeds are designed to change rapidly, so you will need to strike a balance between pre-screening for useful content and discovering it along with your students.  On the night before the lesson, search Twitter with the following terms:  “Wampanoag first Thanksgiving,” and “first Thanksgiving Native Americans.”  The first search should yield several tweets linking to an article written by a Native American woman for the website “Indian Country Today.”  Other notable tweets from this search may include a short blog post on the contemporary Wampanoag by Maia Weinstock (@20tauri) and the story of Squanto from @executedtoday (linked to a web address of same name). The second search should yield a variety of tweets.  Search for specific tweets if you wish.  Useful tweets for this activity might include:  tweets linking to a Buzzfeed article on “15 Things You Didn’t Know About the First Thanksgiving,” a tweet linking to a short article posted by the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, and a tweet linking to Ron Charles’ Washington Post review for Nathaniel Philbrick’s e-book  “The First Thanksgiving.”

We suggest that you limit your searches to top tweets.  Doing so doesn’t guarantee top quality tweets, but it can increase the odds of finding useful content.  Do make sure to pre-screen any tweet which is marked “sensitive.”

Display your searches for students, and have students practice with asking questions that help determine a text/author’s credibility, and that help to reveal the author’s point of view:  Who is the publisher? Who is the author?  What authority does he/she have on the topic?  What kinds of sources, if any, does the text reference?  Sample questions about values and points of view:  What seems to be the author’s main point?  Is there a larger point of view about the world that he/she would like you to accept?  Questions about purpose may also be useful.  For example, why would a U.S. Embassy in the Middle East bother with posting an article about the First Thanksgiving?


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 11:31 )
 

Building Up and Tearing Down: Women on Television

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The portrayal of women on talk shows, news and reality TV can sometimes be easy for audiences to recognize as positive or negative, demeaning or empowering.  Are they role models for other women?  Are they portrayed as someone you would never want to have as a friend?  While the character or social position of these women may seem natural, or given, they’re still constructed by the media in which they appear.  In this MediaLit Moment, the sharply contrasting images of women in our media samples will give your middle and early high school students an opportunity to ask questions about the production decisions which support those portrayals.

Ask students to analyze production elements in television shows which cast women in a favorable or unfavorable light.

AHA!: Women aren’t just themselves on news and reality shows.  The people producing the shows can make them look like creeps or model citizens, too!

Grade Level: 9-10

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.

Materials: computer with high speed internet access; LCD projector and screen

Activity: Ask students if there are any female television personalities that they really like or love to hate.  What made them feel that way about that person?

Play a selected excerpt from the Sixty Minutes interview with Sonia Sotomayor:

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50148540n

Follow this with a video from Dance Moms in which two of the mothers have a drunken fight on the streets of New Orleans.  It may help to give students a little background information about the show.  This clip is PG13 for language and content.

http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/dance-moms/video/season-3/episode-37/fight-in-the-streets-of-new-orleans

Allow students some time to express their reactions to the women portrayed in each of these videos.

Next, introduce students to Core Concept #1, and to Key Question #2.

Show students the videos again and ask:  Aside from the things these women do or say in these shows, what else might have created a positive or negative picture of them?  (a couple of examples: footage of Sotomayor in the halls of the Supreme Court; the wide-angle, epic shots of the New Orleans street fight).  You may wish to let students know that reality show producers often aim to heighten conflict between participants.

Do these shows support a portrayal of Sotomayor and the Dance Moms as empowered women?  Why or why not?


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 11:31 )
 

Jamming the Makeover

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The format of the makeover show is a familiar one to us.  If there’s any novelty to it, it’s the fact that emotional reactions to events in the storyline take on greater importance than the events themselves.  Emotions are the basic components of the “creative language” of the genre.  In this MediaLit Moment, your freshmen and sophomore students will have the chance to become fluent in ‘makeover’ by staging brief scenes and reacting to events in ways which defy conventional expectations.

Ask students to act out a scene from an imaginary makeover program which breaks the conventions of the genre.

AHA!: When I act out this scene from a makeover show but don’t follow the rules completely, it doesn’t feel like a makeover at all!

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: Construction:  Does my message reflect understanding in format, creativity and technology?

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: 9-10

Materials: Television, DVD Player, DVDs of sample makeover shows.

Activity: To prepare for this lesson, rent or buy a DVD of a makeover show, and note the time markers for specific sequences:   1) the story of the makeover recipient’s problems   2) the expert team “selling” the makeover they will perform  3) the big “reveal”

Begin the activity by asking students about makeover programs they like (These can be makeovers of any kind, including weight loss, home makeovers, “supernanny” makeovers, etc.)  Ask them to list the basic components of makeover shows.  Play short clips from each sequence from the DVD.  For each clip, ask, what emotions are being conveyed, and what emotions are the scenes supposed to evoke from the audience?

Tell students that they’re going to sketch out (or write a script for) a short scene from an imaginary makeover show.  The show should have a title, and the scene should feature clear emotional reactions.  The scene must include one emotional reaction that is unexpected.  They have plenty of artistic license to make fun of the genre.  Ask students to gather in groups of three or more to sketch and play their scene.

Optional:  Stage a short example. Cast yourself (or a willing student) as someone who has just received a facelift or other body/style makeover.  This person expresses their excitement about receiving the makeover.  A small group of students mills around the person who has been made over.  They should make small talk and ignore him or her entirely.

If time permits, ask one or more groups to stage their scene in front of the class.  If not, end with a discussion of their experience with staging the scene.  What are their thoughts and feelings about playing “against the rules”?  What did they learn about the responses that makeover shows expect from participants?  Experts?  The audience?  What are the values and beliefs “behind” those expectations?


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 )
 

Why Don't I See What You See?

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Today, online advertisements are tailor-made for individual recipients, but it can be difficult to discern that fact unless someone else shows you the ads that have been targeted to them.  In this MediaLit Moment, your middle school students will have the opportunity to ‘lift the veil’ on the customization of media content by examining domestic and international covers for the same magazine.  In the process, they’ll imaginatively take the position of media producers as they attempt to track the inferences producers made about different audiences.

Ask students to offer possible reasons why producers would print different covers for domestic and international editions of the same magazine.

AHA!: Everybody in the U.S. sees the same cover for Time magazine, but somebody in Europe or Asia might see something totally different!

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

Core Concept #3: Different people experience the same media message differently.

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

Grade Level: 6-8

Materials: computer with high speed internet access, LCD projector and screen; or print outs of selected website pages

An internet search for “Time magazine cover” will bring you to a page on the Time website which (usually) displays covers for all four regions in which the magazine is distributed.    Occasionally you will need to do some additional searching to view international covers. The page should also allow you to search for past covers by date.  Here are some dates for issues of Time whose domestic and international covers differ significantly:  July 1st, 2013 (v.182, n. 1), December 5th, 2011 (v. 178, n. 22), October 3rd, 2011 (v. 178, n. 13), November 29th, 2010 (v. 176, n. 22).

Activity: Have fun “talking up” the fact that media usually seem to be made the same way for everyone—but not always.  Discuss examples aside from magazine covers, if you can find any.  Next, display or pass out a printout of one of the Time magazine covers.  You may need to briefly explain the social or political context for international covers.  Why would Time magazine print different covers in the U.S. and abroad?  Introduce Key Question/Core Concept #3.  How do these domestic and international covers differ?  Why would the producers create these particular covers for these audiences?  Ask them to take the point of view of the producers, and introduce them to Key Question #3 for Producers:  Is my message engaging and compelling for my target audience?  


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 11:31 )
 


Page 8 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 and information literacy
 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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