Are you media literate? Do you teach your students to be media literate? Do you even know what it means to be media literate? All very valid questions. Let’s learn together as I dive into the meaning and importance of being media literate.
How can we become fully media literate? Renee Hobbs states in an interview by Blumberg that “digital and media literacy is an expanded conceptualization of literacy.” She continues to says that there are five inter-related competencies that both teachers and students need to understand media literacy and be applied in many areas to being a lifelong learner.
Access, Analysis, Create and Collaborate, Reflect and Take action.
Hobbs says we need to be able to teach student at all ages to connect these 5 inter-related competencies. When I think of these skills I think of when we teach children to read we use strategies to help them comprehend what they read. We want students to be able to interpret what the author is saying. We intertwine these strategies to every subject. The conversation of being media literate needs to be connected in all subjects as well and embedded into the school day. Literacy is not just traditional reading and writing it also expands to all media that people take in.
In the video series Introduction to Media Literacy: Crash Course Media Literacy #1, they state that the average adult spends up to 10 hours a day consuming media. This includes listening to the radio, watching a series on YouTube, listening to a podcast, watching TV, and scrolling through your phone. That is a huge chunk of your day. So sending kids out into the world without proper skills to navigate all this media around them would not be wise. This media that is consumed has a significant impact on humans all ages. Educators and students need to understand that media is more than news. It’s books, films, articles, flyers, video games, podcasts, poetry, etc. We spend a lot of our time interacting with some form of media. We must teach students to therefore be media literate. Students need to be able to comprehend what they are consuming.
Brad and Shelby’s Video explained Media Literacy education. Educators need to teach students to be critical thinker in everything they read all around them. Brad and Shelby provided information about how we as educators teach students to interpret and create all types of media. They share a list of questions to help students with media literacy.
All students need to be able to use comprehension strategies to understand all media literacy. In primary literacy we teach students comprehension strategies to help them understand what they are reading. Comprehension is just as important as students being able to decode words and read fluently. In a reading assessment, a student can read fluently and know all their phonics but if they don’t understand what they are reading they are not at that level. We ask students questions after they read a book in a reading assessment that go deeper and make them think about the meaning of the book beyond the text. In this same way we should be educating students on media literacy to be able to break down and understand what they come across online.
Asking questions, activating prior knowledge, predicting, making connections and inferring are among a few of the comprehension strategies we teach students. These help students to think about what they are reading and dig deeper. We need to connect these strategies and implement them while teaching students to be media literate as well.
Inferring is my favourite comprehension strategy to teach. Essentially we want students to be able to ‘read between the lines’. I do all sorts of fun activities to get students thinking about what the author could be saying without saying it. We infer throughout many of my lessons and little activities during the month I focus on it. For example, I do a Mystery Mail where staff in the school put together a letter to my students with three clues. Students have to use there inferring skills (or ‘detective skills’) to figure out who it could be. This is building critical thinking skills. In the same way I feel it is important to implement media literacy into these conversations with students.
Students need to be like detectives in the digital world and think critically about what they scroll across. It is essential for educators and schools to guide students in learning how to ask these questions and think about all the media they are exposed to so they can comprehend it and become media literate. For students to be media literate they need to be able to comprehend and think critically about what they are consuming.
Blumberg, F. C., Hobbs, R., Division of Psychological & Educational Services, Fordham University, Harrington School of Communication and Media, University of Rhode Island, & Media Education Lab. (n.d.). Media Literacy for the 21st Century: Interview with Renee Hobbs, EdD. Retrieved from https://www.apadivisions.org/division-46/spotlights/renee-hobbs