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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 )
 

Child as Hero, Child as Audience

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Young men and women populated European fairy tales well into the 19th century.  It wasn’t until the late Victorian Era and the early 20th century, with books such  as Alice in Wonderland and The Secret Garden, that children became the heroes of fantasy tales.  But the new trend initiated a tradition which remains alive and well in the 21st century.  In this MediaLit Moment, your early elementary students will have the chance to both identify with and critically examine the young heroes in contemporary fantasy films.  In the process, they’ll develop an awareness of themselves as target audiences for such films.

Ask students to identify the roles which children play in fantasy films.

AHA!: The people who make these movies want to keep my attention with characters my age!

Questions to Guide Young Children:  Deconstruction

KQ#3: What do I think and feel about this?  What might other people think and feel about this?

KQ#5: Is this trying to tell me something?  Is this trying to sell me something?

Grade Level: 3-4

Materials: TV and DVD player or computer with high speed internet access, LCD projector and screen; fantasy films in which children are primary characters.  Examples:  “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,”  “The Neverending Story,” “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” “The Secret of Moonacre.”  Preview one or more films and note sequences which demonstrate the centrality of younger characters to the resolution of problems presented within them.

Activity: Tell students that the lesson will focus on movies set in magical worlds which have characters their age.  Can they name any?   Next, show the clips which you have selected.  Ask students to imagine being in the place of the characters their age.  How does it feel?

As the discussion continues, you may want to ask, have you ever felt like your parents weren’t giving you the attention you wanted?  Would you feel more important if you were like one of the younger characters in these films?   Sample clip:  one of the final scenes from “The Spiderwick Chronicles” in which the diminutive Thimbletack magically appears before the mother of the family and the children reassure her that she’s not crazy or in danger.

Recount the feelings that your students experience when they identify with the characters their age in these films.  Call attention to the fact that there are many movies like this, and that the people who make these movies decided to put these kinds of characters in them.  Why do they think the people who made these movies decided to do that?  Discuss KQ#5 for young children with them as appropriate.


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 11:33 )
 

This Is My Life - Or Is It?

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Popular media can indeed be formulaic.  Witness this line of dialogue from the latest Superman reboot:  “You’re a monster, Zod, and I’m going to stop you!”  Audiences are often willing to forgive formulaic plot scenarios because they’re still entertaining.  Must we be in a critical or unforgiving mood in order to be good, media literate critics?  In this MediaLit Moment, we reverse engineer the process of criticism.  Instead of starting as critics, your upper elementary students will have the chance to reflect on their lives as a kind of text, complete with themes and characterization, and they’ll use the insights they gain to explore the construction of media texts with an open mind.

Ask students to identify themes in their lives, and to identify media characters who seem to share them.

AHA!: I have a lot in common with this character, but that doesn’t mean I have to do the same things she does!

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.

Grade Level: 4-6

Materials: Pencil, paper, imagination

Activity: At this point it’s likely that you’ve discussed themes in literature with your students.  Introduce the idea that people also have themes in their lives.  Life themes can reflect ongoing challenges (e.g., struggles for independence), moral statements (e.g., good friends are priceless), or repeating patterns (e.g., so much effort for so little return).  Life themes are as various as literary themes.  Have any of your students said, “Yeah, that’s the soundtrack of my life”?  Anyone who has ever felt invisible is likely to resonate with the aphorism: “Children are best seen and not heard.”  After this discussion, ask students to work in pairs, and ask each student to write one or more words which describe himself.  Then ask them to discuss the kinds of events, feelings and phrases that seem to follow from those descriptions—their life themes.

Next, ask students to think of popular media texts with characters who seem to have the same life themes.  Open up the floor for a whole class discussion of media characters and their life themes.  Next, ask students to pay attention to the plots of those texts, and the choices which characters make.  Would they make the same choices or different ones?  Why do the characters in these texts make the choices they make?  As students encounter the apparent inevitability of the choices media characters make, draw attention to Core Concepts #1 and #2.


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 11:33 )
 


Page 9 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
 confirmation bias and media literacy
 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 and information literacy part 2
 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
 trust through technology
 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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