Media Literacy

Last week I encouraged all of you to take a moment to reflect on the sessions that you attended and really think about what you learned from the perspective of the following three questions:

  • What can you do to transform your classroom tomorrow?
  • What can you do to transform your classroom next week?
  • What can you do to transform your classroom in the long term?

I’ve loved the conversations I have had with several of you about the new things that you are trying, or are planning to try.

As I reflect on the sessions I attended, one of them stands out more than any of the others.  That was the morning session by Katie Muhtaris called “Wide Awake Minds.”  Her focus in this session was on media literacy and why media matters.

Think for a moment about the amount of time that you spend on a screen – your computer, phone, iPad, TV, etc.  According to information that was shared in this session, tweens ages 8-12 are on their device about 6 hours a day, and that study did not include time spent on devices directly related to school.

Now think about your consumption of media.  Any digital news source you go to now, whether it be CNN, BBC, Fox News, Facebook, or ESPN, what is the first thing you notice?  Probably the pictures.  What are our students’ favorite things to do on shifts-in-literacytheir devices?  Think Instagram and Snapchat – two social media services that are image and video based.  In the “Wide Awake Minds” session, Muhtaris shared that media literacy is redefining what it means to read.  How do we bring that into our classroom? When talking about media literacy, Muhtaris shared the following questions as entry points for discussions on media literacy:

  • What do you see?
  • What does it make you think?
  • What evidence do you have?

Muhtaris also shared some great resources that we can use to bring media literacy into our classrooms.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • What’s Going On In This Picture – This source from the New York Times shares an interesting or intriguing picture on Monday morning without captions or descriptions. Come back on Thursday afternoons for additional information about the picture.
  • The Kids Should See This – This cool blog posts interesting videos curated by a mom and her 5 & 8 year olds. The tag line on the site is “not-made-for-kids, but perfect for them.”  The videos can spark interesting conversations and discussions.
  • History in Pictures – This twitter feed shares great historical pictures and can lead to great conversations.
  • National Geographic Photo of the Day – Awesome daily nature and society pictures from all over the world.
  • Daily Infographic – The group that runs this site just looks for interesting infographics on the web – one caveat… Make sure you preview any infographics you’re going to use and read every word!  While most are school appropriate, some might not be!
  • Wordless News – This site’s illustrator chooses a single news story each weekday, sketches something to go with it, and then publishes the picture. You can first discuss the picture, then click the link to see the article that goes with it.

In addition to simple media literacy, images and video can inspire inquiry.  Simply showing an interesting picture or video (like those you might find on the sites above) and asking some questions can lead to inquiry.  Here are some potential questions that you could use to get the process rolling:

  • What questions do you have?
  • What does this image make you wonder?
  • What more would you like to know?
  • What else does this remind you of?
  • Where can we look to find answers?

Have you tried anything to introduce your students to media literacy?  Have you ever tried using images as a jumping off point for inquiry?  Share your experiences in the comments below!

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Reflections from Tuesday

I hope that all of you were able to take something positive away from Tuesday’s PD: HSE21 Inquiry in Action.  I know that whenever I attend a PD such as that, I feel overwhelmed.  There are so many great ideas, and sometimes some things that just don’t seem to fit for me right now.  Trying to figure out what to do with the information overload can be a bit daunting.

One of the things that I have definitely learned throughout my years of PD – if there was something good, I better try it soon.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen something good at a conference, but I’ve found an excuse to not implement it right away (I don’t have time, I’m not sure my students are ready, etc.).  When I put those awesome ideas off, they end up getting lost in the black hole of professional learning – that’s where all great ideas that we never try go.

So… With that in mind, here’s some simple advice.  Think about the questions that the presenters were asked to frame their sessions around:

  • What can you do to transform your classroom tomorrow?
  • What can you do to transform your classroom next week?
  • What can you do to transform your classroom in the long term?

When you get a chance to reflect on your learning from Tuesday, try to find the nuggets that you might want to use to answer those questions.  What is the thing that you can try tomorrow (or on Monday if you’re reading this the day it posts)?  Commit to it and give it a shot.  If you know you can’t do it tomorrow, set your own goal of when you want to try that new thing.  Put it on your calendar, share with a colleague, or do something to hold yourself accountable.

Next, set one or two long term goals based on something you learned on Tuesday.  Maybe take your idea and collaborate with a colleague, or use the ideas you learned to plan a new unit for your class.

Remember that reflection is one of the most important pieces of the learning process.  Tuesday was nonstop without much time for contemplation between sessions.  Make sure you take a little time while everything is still fresh in your mind to look back on any notes you took, or ideas that you came up with.

As you reflect, share with us one takeaway from your sessions on Tuesday.  What is the one thing you plan to try?  Or tell us what you have already tried.  We’d love to hear about your learning, and your excitement from the day.  Share with us in the comments below.

Freedom to explore

So this week, I’m going to simply recommend a piece from NPR Ed that I recently listened to titled Freedom to Explore.  If you’ve never checked out the NPR Ed website, there’s tons of interesting information there.  Some of the pieces are articles that are freely available, while other pieces are audio that you can play over your computer, or listen to on your smartphone.

This piece fits with our thinking in the HSE21 model so well!  Listen to how 2 schools (admittedly very different than our school) are moving towards a more progressive version of learning.  Maybe there will be some ideas here that you can bring into your own classroom!  To listen to this piece, click on the link below, then click the listen button on the page.  You can listen from your computer, or on a smart phone.  Enjoy!  After you’ve listened, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Freedom to Explore