Whether it’s recognizing fake news, media bias or just information overload, media literacy has never been more important.
While librarians, media specialists and writing teachers have traditionally taken the lead in teaching research skills and media literacy, it’s increasingly up to teachers of all subjects and grade levels to make sure students are responsible producers and consumers of media content.
If media isn’t your background as a teacher, the task can feel daunting.
“In order to have a democracy and a free society, we have to rely on the discernment and judgment of each and every citizen and that can only happen through education,” says the Center for Media Literacy’s president and CEO Tessa Jolls. “They must have a methodology to rely on that’s evidence-based and is, frankly, scientific.”
Reading carefully and thinking critically have always been the basic tenets of media literacy, but those skills become more vital in the age of social media, citizen journalists, circular reporting and, yes, fake news. Those skills are the hallmarks of the Knowledge Constructor standard, which is part of the student section of the ISTE Standards. The organizations below offer tips, videos, curricula and lesson plans to help educators guide students in navigating the media landscape.
This independent nonprofit organization offers a toolkit for educators on news and media literacy, geared by grade level, that includes lesson plans, videos, interactive games and professional development.
A classic, the CRAAP Test was developed by librarians at California State University, Chico, and reminds us to assess articles based on the Currency, Relevance, Authority (or source of the information), Accuracy and Purpose (meaning does the author have a particular intent). The American Association of Librarians has recently updated the CRAAP test to reflect added scrutiny to the authority component. For instance, authority shouldn’t be assumed based on a person’s title, but only in conjunction with the other factors, such as accuracy.
An off-shoot of Cyber Wise, the digital citizenship program, Cyber Civics is a media literacy curriculum developed for middle-schoolers that progresses from digital citizenship to information literacy and concludes with media literacy for positive participation.
ISTE member Shannon McClintock Miller has created a Padlet dedicated to media literacy resources and lesson planning ideas. You’ll find everything from the basics of media literacy to teaching students to spot fake news.
This project has been offering “drop-in” units focused on news matters, the First Amendment, the standards of quality journalism and current news and information landscape since 2008. Now, the News Literacy Project is making the lessons more widely available through its free program, Checkology virtual classroom.
This compilation of resources from the George Lucas Educational Foundation is designed to help students learn to analyze, evaluate and communicate in a world with countless media sources and constant access to information.
Jennifer Snelling is a freelance writer based in Eugene, Oregon, and mother of two digital natives. This is an updated version of an article that originally published on April 11, 2016.