Media Literacy Lessons & Activities
Writing a Media Analysis Essay
This essay project was designed for 8th graders, but would work for high school students as well. After a lot of practice analyzing media and learning about how it portrays race, gender, and various marginalized groups, I assigned them this essay project. It requires that they choose a media trope, research its history, explore their own feelings and relationship with it, and analyze a few examples. The result is a braided essay of sorts-- a mix of personal anecdotes, a research summary, and insightful visual analysis.
Key Questions for Social Media Literacy
Teacher/Librarian Laura Winnick and I developed a social media literacy curriculum to present at the NYCoRE Conference 2018. We adapted and scaffolded CML's 5 Key Questions so that students can critically analyze Instagram posts.
This advertising webquest is a great introduction to the different kinds of advertising in our world. Pair it with the chart download below for a complete 30-minute activity. Works for grades 4-7.
Utopia/Dystopia in Film
If you are teaching any of the popular sci fi canon that takes place in a utopia/dystopia (The Giver, 1984, Brave New World, Lord of the Flies, Clockwork Orange, etc.), search Youtube for some movie trailers. I like using Minority Report, Gattaca, The Hunger Games, Vanilla Sky, In Time... Screen these trailers to students and use this worksheet as a companion.
The Illusion of Choice
This infographic may be a little out of date, but it does so much to inspire conversation in a classroom. Have your students, ages 12-18, review the infographic in pairs. You may want to have them answer a few questions about it. Then, discuss why this all matters. How does it affect our lives?
Implementing Media Literacy in Your Classroom
Jaclyn Kahn, David Cooper Moore, and I wrote this "getting started" guide in honor of Media Literacy Week 2016. It's a good place to begin!
Analyzing Media Reps. of Minority Groups
Below, you'll find a student analysis sheet that can be adapted for various units; although the PDF focuses on the representation of Latina/os, one could easily change that to any particular ethnicity, religion, sexuality. It just requires finding some interesting clips! I have done this same lesson with representations of autistic characters in the media. Please watch my webinar to learn more about how
Media Perceptions of Ancient Egypt
In this 50-minute lesson, students analyze film clips featuring ancient Egypt to determine how modern myths and assumptions about cultures are created. The structure of this lesson can be applied to any ancient historical time period.
Media from the 1930s
This lesson encourages students to examine media artifacts from the 1930s to learn more about the historical setting of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Although the Logans seem worlds away from movie theaters and magazine advertisements, in this lesson, students realize that their plight does not exist in a vacuum.
Watch & Write
The simplest-- and sometimes most effective-- media literacy exercise is simply to have students watch something and think about it. Most sitcoms work well for this. Use the CML's 5 Key Questions to guide students toward deep, analytical thinking.
Intro to Media (2 Day Lesson)
In order to introduce our middle schoolers to the concept of media, Laura Winnick and I use this 2-day lesson. Designed in fit in the space of 45-minute periods, it introduces students to the definition of media, the history of media inventions, and the concept of a target audience. The students will write in their journals, take notes, participate in a group challenge involving post-its, view images, watch videos, and discuss. At the end of the two days, they will have a foundational understanding of media (necessary before they engage in any deeper media analysis).