Teaching Media Literacy in the Classroom

Many teachers are hesitant to address media literacy in class. There are many legitimate challenges, such as lack of time, lack of appropriate tools or resources, and potentially disturbing subject matter. There is also the real fear that personal bias will seep into our lessons, despite our best efforts. However, in our current media-flooded culture it is becoming more and more important that students develop the skills to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and act using all forms of communication. As educators, we must challenge ourselves to provide our students with opportunities to develop media literacy skills.

Did you know that the average teenager consumes nine hours a day of media, not counting school-related activities and assignments? This includes television, social media, video games, and more. For students from lower-income homes, that number can be even higher! Even younger students (ages 8-12) can spend four to six hours a day or more on digital media.

How do we, as educators, ensure that students are able to distinguish real news from fake, identify propaganda or bias, and participate in our digital society? We can begin by providing students with models and tools and time to explore, question, and evaluate media in the classroom. But if we truly want students to become critical thinkers and to question the information they come across in their daily lives, we must go deeper. 

We must provide students opportunities to interact with all types of media on a regular basis, but also to construct their own media messages. Turning students into creators rather than consumers can help develop life-long skills. We also need to provide time for discussion and reflection. Finally, we need to involve parents and families in the discussion.

On January 30th, myON will be hosting a special webinar through our Building a Community of Readers network on EdWeb.net. Join me as I showcase some of the latest research, best practices and tips from classrooms around the country. Register (or watch the recorded webinar) here.

Susannah Moran

Susannah Moran is the senior project manager for myON. Susannah began her career as a New York City English teacher and literacy specialist. She has worked in hundreds of schools, integrating technology into teaching and learning and providing onsite support for teachers.