The Teacher's Guide to Media Literacy: Critical Thinking in a Multimedia World


Cyndy Scheibe & Faith Rogow

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    List of Figures and Tables Reflection Boxes, and Voices from the Field

    List of Figures and Tables


    It was a stunning finding: more than a third of the 112,000 respondents to the initial Knight Foundation Future of the First Amendment (Yalof & Dautrich, 2005) survey of high school students said the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees. These students didn't believe “that people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions or newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories” (p. 1). Such results indicate a profound lack of understanding of the role of media in a democracy. They suggest a preference for avoiding opinions that challenge one's worldview and an inclination to rely on others to serve as gatekeepers of information rather than a willingness to question others or learn how to discern credibility for oneself. This is a wakeup call: we as educators need to do a better job of teaching about media, free speech, and democracy. And media literacy education can help.

    As long-term media literacy educators who bring to the task a combined thirty-five years of staff and curriculum development experience, we have drawn from the growing body of theory and practice from a range of countries, perspectives, and disciplines to develop an educational approach that specifically applies to the United States.1 But what most distinguishes The Teacher's Guide to Media Literacy from these works is that while they focus on how to teach media literacy, we focus on using media literacy to teach.

    As a result, we pay a lot of attention to how people learn. We look at how practices and theories familiar to educators—but often missing from media literacy texts—apply to media literacy education. In addition, this is the first book to be based specifically on the Core Principles of Media Literacy Education in the United States developed in 2007 by the National Association of Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). As two of that document's co-authors, we are able to link theory to practice with dozens of activity ideas and lesson plans based on our own experiences and those of the many teachers with whom we have worked.

    Media literacy has been identified as one of the key 21st-century skills by an amazingly wide range of organizations from the Catholic Church, the United Nations, and the American Academy of Pediatrics to professional education organizations like National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). In Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World (Jacobs, 2010), ASCD includes media literacy as one of the key areas for transforming schools and education. Support for media literacy has also come from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and other business groups, as well as other government agencies. Joining the groundswell in acknowledging that media literacy overlaps with other critical literacies necessary for successfully navigating today's world, a growing number of states specifically require aspects of media literacy education in assessments for graduation.

    In classroom after classroom, media literacy has demonstrated a power to reach all kinds of students, even those who have been uninterested in school. It is much more than a response to changing technologies; it is a vital and effective way to create a culture of inquiry in US schools and meet today's most pressing educational needs. We offer these pages as a springboard for educators who are ready to jump into the media literacy pond. We think you will find, as we have, that the waters are invigorating.


    This book has been several years in the making, and along the way we have been inspired and supported by more people than we can possibly name here, including many of the scholars whose work we cite, the teachers who have worked with Project Look Sharp, those we have learned from at conferences and workshops across the nation, and our own students.

    We owe a deep debt of gratitude to the staff of Project Look Sharp, whose work is strongly reflected in this book, including teacher extraordinaire Chris Sperry, curriculum kit writer Sox Sperry, image expert Rebecca Rozek, and accomplished cat herder Sherrie Szeto. Sherrie, in particular, has been instrumental in the development of the companion website for the book.

    We also appreciate tremendously those at Ithaca College who have strongly supported media literacy integration and the growth of Look Sharp's work both on and off campus, including Tanya Saunders, former dean of the Division of Interdisciplinary & International Studies, and Leslie Lewis, current dean of Humanities & Sciences. We thank, as well, Carol Collins and Corwin for their interest in our work and recognition of the importance of media literacy education.

    Also, our appreciation to the dedicated colleagues who have served on NAMLE's board—we know how hard you work. We offer special thanks to former board members Frank Baker, Renee Hobbs, and Elizabeth Thoman, whose insights and energy have played a major role in growing media literacy education in the United States, and also to Elana Rosen, without whom the Core Principles of Media Literacy Education would never have been written.

    On a personal level, Faith thanks current and former colleagues in the PBS system who, early on, served as a receptive audience and provided opportunities to hone training and curriculum development skills. And gratitude beyond words goes to Adele Brown, whose extraordinary friendship over the decades has sustained me—body, mind, and soul.

    Cyndy thanks those colleagues who got her started in the challenging exploration of media effects and media literacy, especially her longtime mentor, John Condry. He would have enjoyed this book, and I continue to miss him every day. And to my beautiful and patient daughter, Ariana Carvell, my love and gratitude; you are the light of my life.

    And finally, we thank each other. This has been an uncommon partnership—testament that, indeed, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

    CyndyScheibe and FaithRogow, Ithaca, New York, 2011
    Publisher's Acknowledgments

    Corwin gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following reviewers:

    • Veronica Andes
    • Assistant Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Staff Development
    • Wilson School District
    • West Lawn, PA
    • Frank Baker
    • Consultant/Media Educator
    • Media Literacy Clearinghouse
    • Columbia, SC
    • Deborah Mellion
    • Director of Literacy and Title I
    • Cranston Public Schools
    • Cranston, RI
    • Sandy Moore
    • English Teacher
    • Coupeville Middle and High School
    • Coupeville, WA
    • Cheryl Oakes
    • Collaborative Content Coach for Technology
    • Wells Elementary School
    • Wells, ME
    • Michelle Saylor
    • Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Staff Development
    • Wilson School District
    • West Lawn, PA

    About the Authors

    Cyndy Scheibe is the Executive Director and Founder of Project Look Sharp, one of the leading media literacy organizations serving K–12 and college educators in the United States and a pioneer of curriculum-driven media literacy education. She is also an Associate Professor in developmental psychology at Ithaca College, where she has taught courses in developmental psychology, media research, and media literacy for more than twenty-five years, and serves as the Director of the Center for Research on the Effects of Television Lab and Archive. A dynamic speaker and workshop leader, she was a founding board member of the National Association for Media Literacy Education and is author of several articles on media literacy education and practice. She is a contributing editor to many of the media literacy curriculum kits developed by Project Look Sharp and co-authored the Critical Thinking and Health kit series based on media literacy for elementary grades. She received her PhD in Human Development (1987) from Cornell University.

    Faith Rogow was the founding president of the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), a founding advisor of Project Look Sharp, and a founding editorial board member of the Journal for Media Literacy Education. She has been a leading media literacy educator, theorist, and strategist for more than two decades with a special interest in early childhood, pedagogy, and diversity issues. Her work is notable for merging academic expertise with grassroots sensibilities. In 1996 she created Insighters Educational Consulting to “help people learn from media and one another.” An award-winning speaker, master teacher, and training designer, she has taught thousands of educators, child care professionals, media professionals, and parents to understand and harness the power of media. She has created educational outreach materials for projects ranging from Sesame Street and Sid the Science Kid to hundreds of independent films, including those featured on PBS's P.O.V. She is the author of many articles about media literacy, as well as Gone to Another Meeting: A History of the National Council of Jewish Women (University of Alabama Press, 1993). She received her PhD in history (1988) from Binghamton University.

  • Afterword: Where Do We Go from Here?

    In the decades that we have been doing media literacy education, we have been privileged to witness incredible growth in the field, especially in the United States. At least some of that growth has been driven by interest in changing media technologies and the transformative capacities they offer to students and teachers.

    Media literacy education will continue to provide a natural home for those seeking to adapt to rapidly evolving digital realities. It provides reassurance regarding concerns that media technologies “dumb down” the curriculum or short-circuit thinking by demonstrating (not just theorizing) that media do not inherently distract from education's central goals but rather can serve as a means to achieve them. It provides an effective and relevant pedagogy in the face of certain change, when even schools at the leading edge find it difficult to keep up with students who continue to arrive at their doors with media innovations that provide new challenges and new opportunities.

    Inquiry-based media literacy education keeps front and center questions about the purpose of all of education: to be an engaged citizen, a productive worker, and a lifelong learner—the very goals that sometimes get lost in the day-to-day details of teaching medieval history, the rules of punctuation, and the table of elements or, worse, the bureaucratic record keeping and standardized testing that eat up so much time in so many schools.

    Yet, despite the fact that it is supremely well suited to meet the changing needs of digital learners, media literacy education is faced with significant challenges. The flexibility of curriculum-driven media literacy education is both its great strength and a significant weakness. It is adaptable anywhere—an important feature for educational reform in a nation with diverse communities and needs—and it holds teachers and students to high standards while allowing them to express their creativity and play to their strengths. But the diversity of practice that allows for implementation in a wide range of contexts and curriculum areas can also create confusion about the nature of media literacy education.

    To help bring coherence to what is now scattered practice, the next logical step in the growth of media literacy education is to establish developmental benchmarks and sequences for media literacy skills. The field needs to come to some consensus about who should teach what and in which grades. For example, when should schools begin lessons on Internet credibility? First grade? Middle school? Later? And who is responsible to teach that skill set? The librarian? Teacher? Computer specialist? School districts need clear guidance on what makes the most sense for various curriculum areas and how to avoid repetition of the same few topics while never covering other important skills or concepts.

    In the meantime, we encourage teachers to search out allies. There are people doing media literacy education in all kinds of places—schools, afterschool programs, churches, community-based youth organizations, and more. They may not always label what they are doing as “media literacy,” but they are sources of ideas, equipment, expertise, support, and evidence of the power of this important endeavor. On the national level, organizations like NAMLE run conferences that provide opportunities to exchange ideas, hear the latest research, and recharge your teaching “batteries.” And internationally dozens of countries are offering models and ideas that can be helpful to American educators. In addition to places like Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, which have achieved some success in incorporating aspects of media literacy into the mandatory school curriculum, there are growing media literacy efforts in every corner of the globe from Russia, Austria, and South Africa to Japan, Israel, Italy, and beyond. International organizations like the United Nations and the European Union have developed media literacy curricula and training.

    We would also encourage those who are doing (or want to do) media literacy education to stand up and be counted—in media literacy terms, to Participate and act. For media literacy education to get the support it needs to succeed in the United States, educators have to show up on the radar screens of policy makers and potential funders by the thousands. The United States has dozens of wonderful media literacy projects and organizations, but so far, none has grown large enough to produce those kinds of numbers. We think NAMLE is in the best position to serve as a national voice, and if just half of the readers of this book joined, it could become a powerful advocate.

    We also encourage teachers to become visible by contacting us (which you can do via the book's website). We want to hear your stories about media literacy in your classroom and in the lives of your students. We want to hear how you have used media literacy education to create a culture of inquiry in your district.

    In her acceptance of the 2006 Cable in the Classroom Leaders in Learning Award, acclaimed media literacy advocate Elizabeth Thoman likened the urgency of our need for media literacy education to the urgency of the nation's leap into the space race (and accompanying attention to science and math education) in the 1960s. We agree. Media literacy education is not only important to do but important to do now. If the nation has the will to make its citizenry media literate, hundreds of scholars and media literacy educators in schools across the country have the ways.

    We look forward to the day when we can drop the word media from our work because everyone will automatically understand literacy to include inquiry and expression applied to all forms of media. We aren't there yet, but the roads we need to get there are under construction. In the meantime, media literacy education will remain fluid, which makes it ever challenging, often uncomfortable, and always incredibly exciting.


    Appendix A: Excerpts from Core Principles of Media Literacy Education in the United States

    (November 2007)

    The purpose of media literacy education is to help individuals of all ages develop the habits of inquiry and skills of expression that they need to be critical thinkers, effective communicators, and active citizens in today's world.

    This document was developed by the following past and present AMLA board members: Lynda Bergsma, David Considine, Sherri Hope Culver, Renee Hobbs, Amy Jensen, Faith Rogow, Elana Yonah Rosen, Cyndy Scheibe, Sharon Sellers-Clark, and Elizabeth Thoman.

    For the complete document, see the book's website.

    1. Media Literacy Education Requires Active Inquiry and Critical Thinking About the Messages We Receive and Create
    Implications for Practice
    • The process of effective media analysis is based on the following concepts:
      • All media messages are “constructed.”
      • Each medium has different characteristics, strengths, and a unique “language” of construction.
      • Media messages are produced for particular purposes.
      • All media messages contain embedded values and points of view.
      • People use their individual skills, beliefs, and experiences to construct their own meanings from media messages.
      • Media and media messages can influence beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviors, and the democratic process.
    • MLE teaches students to ask the specific types of questions that will allow them to gain a deeper or more sophisticated understanding of media messages.

      The accompanying appendix—Key Questions to Ask When Analyzing Media Messages—provides a model of such questions. Because instructional practices must be modified appropriately for learners of different ages and in different settings, the process of critical questioning and the specific wording of questions may vary. Some questions may not apply to every media message, and questions will often have more than one answer. As with all critical questioning processes, the end goal is to enable students to regularly ask the questions themselves.

    • MLE emphasizes strong sense critical thinking, i.e., asking questions about all media messages, not just those with which we may disagree.
    • MLE trains students to use document-based evidence and well-reasoned arguments to support their conclusions.
    • MLE is not about replacing students’ perspectives with someone else's (your own, a teacher's, a media critic's, an expert's, etc.). Sharing a critique of media without also sharing the skills that students need to critically analyze media for themselves is not sound MLE practice. This includes presenting media literacy videos, films, books, or other curriculum materials as a substitute for teaching critical inquiry skills.
    • MLE teachers do not train students to ask IF there is a bias in a particular message (since all media messages are biased), but rather, WHAT the substance, source, and significance of a bias might be.
    • For MLE teachers, fostering critical thinking is routine. MLE calls for institutional structures to support their efforts by actively encouraging critical thinking in all classrooms.
    • Simply using media in the classroom does not constitute MLE.
    Note: Throughout this document, “MLE” will be used as an abbreviation for media literacy education.
    2. Media Literacy Education Expands the Concept of Literacy (i.e., Reading and Writing) to Include All Forms of Media
    Implications for Practice
    • Like print literacy, which requires both reading and writing, MLE encompasses both analysis and expression.
    • MLE enables students to express their own ideas through multiple forms of media (e.g., traditional print, electronic, digital, user-generated, and wireless) and helps students make connections between comprehension and inference-making in print, visual, and audio media.
    • MLE takes place in a variety of settings, including, but not limited to: schools, afterschool programs, online, universities and colleges, religious institutions, and the home.
    • MLE should be taught across the preK–12 curriculum. It can be integrated into nearly any subject area.
    • MLE welcomes the use of a broad range of media “texts,” including popular media.
    • MLE recognizes that evolving media forms, societal changes, and institutional structures require ever new instructional approaches and practices.
    • Effective MLE requires classrooms to be equipped with the tools to both analyze and produce media.
    • MLE intersects with other literacies, i.e., is distinct from but shares many goals and techniques with print, visual, technology, information, and other literacies.
    • As a literacy, MLE may have political consequences, but it is not a political movement; it is an educational discipline.
    • While MLE may result in students wanting to change or reform media, MLE itself is not focused on changing media, but rather on changing educational practice and increasing students’ knowledge and skills.
    3. Media Literacy Education Builds and Reinforces Skills for Learners of All Ages. Like Print Literacy, Those Skills Necessitate Integrated, Interactive, and Repeated Practice
    Implications for Practice
    • Media literacy is not a “have it or not” competency, but rather an ever evolving continuum of skills, knowledge, attitudes, and actions.
    • The requirements of MLE cannot be addressed by a single event, class, day, or even week-long intervention. Rather, MLE teachers seek to provide students with numerous and diverse opportunities to practice and develop skills of analysis and expression.
    • MLE engages students with varied learning styles.
    • MLE is most effective when used with co-learning pedagogies, in which teachers learn from students and students learn from teachers and from classmates.
    • MLE builds skills that encourage healthy lifestyles and decision making; it is not about inoculating people against presumed or actual harmful media effects.
    • MLE teaches media management in a way that helps students learn to make informed decisions about time spent using media and which media they choose to use.
    • Making decisions for other people about media access or content is not MLE.
    4. Media Literacy Education Develops Informed, Reflective, and Engaged Participants Essential for a Democratic Society
    Implications for Practice
    • MLE promotes student interest in news and current events as a dimension of citizenship, and can enhance student understanding of First Amendment rights and responsibilities.
    • MLE is designed to create citizens who are skeptical, not cynical.
    • MLE gives students the skills they need to take responsibility for their own media use.
    • MLE invites and respects diverse points of view.
    • MLE explores representations, misrepresentations, and lack of representation of cultures and countries in the global community.
    • MLE values independently produced media.
    • MLE trains students to examine how media structures (e.g., ownership, distribution, etc.) influence the ways that people make meaning of media messages.
    • MLE recognizes that HOW we teach matters as much as WHAT we teach. Classrooms should be places where student input is respected, valued, and acted upon.
    • MLE is not partisan.
    • MLE is not a substitute for government regulation of media, nor is government regulation a substitute for MLE.
    • Censorship or other efforts aimed at keeping selected media beyond the access of selected audiences do not achieve the skill-building goals of MLE.
    • MLE is not a substitute for media meeting their responsibility to serve the public interest. At the same time it is not about media bashing, i.e., simplistic, rhetorical, or over-generalized attacks on some types of media or media industries as a whole.
    5. Media Literacy Education Recognizes That Media Are a Part of Culture and Function as Agents of Socialization
    Implications for Practice
    • MLE integrates media texts that present diverse voices, perspectives, and communities.
    • MLE includes opportunities to examine alternative media and international perspectives.
    • MLE addresses topics like violence, gender, sexuality, racism, stereotyping, and other issues of representation.
    • MLE shares with media owners, producers, and members of the creative community responsibility for facilitating mutual understanding of the effects of media on individuals and on society.
    • MLE does not start from a premise that media are inconsequential or that media are a problem.
    • MLE does not excuse media makers from their responsibility as members of the community to make a positive contribution and avoid doing harm.
    6. Media Literacy Education Affirms That People Use Their Individual Skills, Beliefs, and Experiences to Construct Their Own Meanings from Media Messages
    Implications for Practice
    • MLE is not about teaching students what to think; it is about teaching them how they can arrive at informed choices that are most consistent with their own values.
    • MLE helps students become aware of and reflect on the meaning that they make of media messages, including how the meaning they make relates to their own values.
    • MLE is not about revealing to students the “true” or “correct” or “hidden” meaning of media messages, nor is it about identifying which media messages are “good” and which ones are “bad.” In MLE, media analysis is an exploration of riches, rather than “right” readings.
    • MLE recognizes that students’ interpretations of media texts may differ from the teacher's interpretation without being wrong.
    • MLE recognizes and welcomes the different media experiences of individuals of varying ages.
    • MLE uses group discussion and analysis of media messages to help students understand and appreciate different perspectives and points of view.
    • MLE facilitates growth, understanding, and appreciation through an examination of tastes, choices, and preferences.
    Source: National Association for Media Literacy Education.

    Appendix B: Designing Media Literacy Lessons: A Checklist

    A lesson, activity, curriculum, or initiative is likely to meet the goals of media literacy education if it

    • goes beyond merely using media to teach and instead uses media to help students acquire new or improved critical thinking skills.
    • teaches students to ask their own questions about media rather than just responding to questions that the teacher asks.
    • teaches students to ask questions of all media (not just about the things that they find suspicious or objectionable and not just of electronic or digital media but also of printed media like books).
    • teaches students to ask questions when they are making, as well as using, media.
    • encourages students to use multiple means of expression (image, sound, and word) and helps them determine which ones will best achieve their goal(s).
    • encourages students to seek multiple sources of information and helps them learn how to determine which sources are most appropriate or reliable for any given task.
    • respects that students interpret media through the lens of their own experiences, so different people might interpret a media document or message in different ways (e.g., a student might disagree with a teacher without being wrong).
    • requires students to justify opinions or interpretations with specific, document-based evidence.
    • does not replace the investigative process with declarations about what a teacher or a cultural critic believes to be true.
    • seeks rich readings of texts, rather than asking students to arrive at a predetermined “true” or “correct” meaning.
    • incorporates into analysis (including semiotic or aesthetic analysis) an examination of how media structures (e.g., ownership, sponsorship, or distribution) influence how students make meaning of media messages.
    • focuses on a media document's significance (including who benefits and who is disadvantaged) or what students might learn from it, rather than trying to determine whether a particular piece of media is “good” or “bad.”
    • includes media representing diverse points of view (e.g., does not reduce complex debates to only two sides and/or actively seeks alternative media sources).
    • helps students move through anger and cynicism to skepticism, reflection, and action.
    • provides for assessment of media literacy skills, as well as outcomes related to other subject area content or skills.
    Source: © Faith Rogow, Creative Commons Attribution—No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.


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    Preface (p. xi–xii)

    1. We are confident that many of the ideas in this book will be helpful to people doing media literacy education outside of the United States, but we do acknowledge our focus and our limitations, including the fact that our sources were restricted to those available in English and that much good media literacy education work is happening in non-English-speaking parts of the world.

    Introduction (pp. 1–19)

    1. Oldsmobile first introduced this phrase in a marketing campaign in the late 1980s, with “This is not your father's Oldsmobile.” That phrase has since been applied to a range of innovations—including “Not Your Father's Encyclopedia,” a 2003 article by Kendra Mayfield in Wired magazine about 2-year-old Wikipedia.

    2. ISTE's NETS Standards identify six skill areas that substantially overlap with the goals of media literacy education: 1) Creativity and Innovation; 2) Communication and Collaboration; 3) Research and Information Fluency; 4) Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making; 5) Digital Citizenship; and 6) Technology Operations and Concepts. Details about these areas are available at

    3. The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), a national membership organization, was founded in 2001 as the Alliance for a Media Literate America. It convenes a biennial conference on media literacy education and sponsors the online Journal of Media Literacy Education (see

    4. In an interview in Principal Leadership (Umphrey, 2009), Stanford professor of education Linda Darling-Hammond defined these skills as the ability to think critically; problem solve; identify, synthesize, and analyze information; develop resources and use them in novel situations; work collaboratively with others; frame a problem; reflect on one's own learning; improve one's work without always having to rely on someone else to manage the work; and learn new things on one's own (be self-guided and independent). Our approach to media literacy education addresses every one of these skills.

    5. For an extended examination of why self-reflection is important to teachers, read the revised edition of Deborah Britzman's Practice Makes Practice: A Critical Study of Learning to Teach (2003).

    Chapter 1 (pp. 11–17)

    1. Thanks to Elizabeth Thoman and Renee Hobbs for this idea. For an example of how to use it with students, see the “Media & Activity Diaries” lesson plan in Chapter 7.

    2. We recognize that electronic books are now available via tablet devices, but in our experience, when people speak about “books,” they mean hard copies of printed texts and not things they read on a screen.

    3. See, for example, or Some efforts to limit TV time have been sponsored by companies that sell electronic locks, timers, and similar tools that parents can use to block or monitor television usage. Ironically, some local Newspapers in Education initiatives and bookstores have partnered with media turnoff advocates in the (mistaken) hope that families who decrease screen time will turn to reading as an alternative (e.g., 2009 efforts by Barnes & Noble or the Syracuse Post Standard). However, there is no evidence that reducing screen time turns reluctant readers into fans of books or newspapers.

    4. We are not arguing against the value of exercises that involve refraining from media use for short periods in order to increase students’ awareness of the media in their lives (e.g., see the “Media & Activity Diaries” lesson in Chapter 7). However, when such activities are premised on the predetermined goal of reducing or eliminating screen time, convincing children that media are harmful, or inducing guilt about media use, they undermine efforts to help students develop critical autonomy because they don't leave room for students to decide for themselves how to act on their new insights. Also, because they do not build skills, awareness activities by themselves never constitute adequate media literacy training.

    Nor are we arguing against parents making decisions about how much media time is appropriate for their families. On the contrary, we believe responsible parents should create rules around media use for their children. However, parental media management strategies, like media turnoff initiatives, do not provide children with “habits of inquiry” or “skills of expression,” and teachers are not parents. So, in the case of media literacy education, what might be quite appropriate at home does not translate into sound classroom practice.

    5. For a good example of a media literacy activity using maps, see Project Look Sharp's Media Construction of the Middle East Curriculum Kit, Unit 2, Lesson 6. For world map comparisons that illustrate how maps reflect the purposes of the people who produced them and the values prevalent during the time periods in which they were produced, see the Peters Projection Map that was created in 1974 to more accurately reflect the relative sizes of various nations and continents (, the McArthur Universal Corrective Map of the World that was developed in 1979 by an Australian who was weary of being depicted as being “down under” (, an 1873 Mercator map that projects the United States at the center of the world and divides Asia so that half is on the far left and half is on the far right (, or a sixteenth-century European map that depicts Jerusalem as the center of the world (

    6. This focus on content appears to contradict what many people commonly understand to be Marshall McLuhan's assertion that “the medium is the message.” McLuhan's book title, which is actually The Medium Is the Massage (McLuhan & Fiore, 1967), is believed to reflect his views on how media influence our perceptions and societies—or perhaps it is a pun on the “mass age” of new technologies. There is no question that messages are affected by their delivery systems (whether we are talking about interpersonal or mass communication), but that does not mean that the message itself is not important. Media literacy incorporates this evaluation of delivery systems into the analysis of media messages through critical questions about Authorship, Purpose, Techniques, and Context in which the message was shared.

    7. To explore further the use and influence of logos and branding, we recommend Naomi Klein's No Logo (1999).

    8. This set of concepts owes its origin to the eight Key Concepts outlined in the Ontario Ministry of Education's Media Literacy Resource Guide (1989). However, we disagree with some of that document's very broad proclamations, (e.g., “Media construct reality,” and “Media have commercial implications.”). Media are certainly part of our reality and some media have commercial implications, but our literacy-based approach and the interactivity afforded by media technologies that did not exist in 1989 lead us to take a less deterministic approach.

    9. This version of Key Concepts about the nature of media is excerpted from NAMLE's Core Principles of Media Literacy Education in the United States (see Appendix A). It is specifically designed to support an inquiry-based approach to media literacy education.

    10. For a good example of media construction, search the Internet for “Dove Evolution.” This short film, which depicts the transformation of an ordinary young woman into a supermodel, was created in 2006 as part of Dove brand's “Campaign for Real Beauty.” In sharing this with students, engage them in a discussion of why Unilever (the maker of Dove products) would create the film. In addition to promoting a cause it believes in, what are the other possible benefits to the company? Would other makeup and skin care products be able to claim the same benefits? Why is Dove soap in a position to speak on behalf of “natural” beauty? For an extended classroom discussion, you might also check out some of the parodies of the ad at (One ends with the provocative tag line “Thank God our perception of real life is distorted. Nobody wants to look at ugly people.”).

    11. Other popular versions of this Key Concept, such as the one developed by the Center for Media Literacy in its Media Lit Kit (, use more specific wording that emphasizes power and commercial interests, such as “Most media messages are constructed to gain profit and/or power.” We have not adopted this wording primarily because it focuses only on one set of purposes, leaving out so many others (including education). Moreover, in the world of user-generated content, it is often not true; for example, most people crafting a Facebook page or creating a video for YouTube are not seeking profit, and while they may be seeking to influence others, their purpose is not “power” in the conventional sense. Also, it does not accurately describe (and therefore marginalizes) a great deal of independent media and media art.

    Furthermore, such a strong emphasis on only one purpose may lead students to stop analyzing media messages after they have identified only the profit or power motives or to assume that only those motives are important. In contrast, a deep reading of media messages recognizes that profit and power motives, where they are present, often coexist with a variety of other purposes. Students who fail to acknowledge this complexity are much more likely to slip from skepticism into cynicism.

    It is important, of course, to address the very significant roles of profit and power that are often related to media messages. Effective inquiry-based teaching best addresses these through the Key Questions to ask when Analyzing Media Messages (see page 39). Teachers should ask questions in the categories of Purpose and Economics (which address profit) and should also ask the Impact questions about benefits and harm (which address power relations).

    12. Interpretations of or responses to media messages may occur consciously or unconsciously, but except for innate or reflexive responses (e.g., fight or flight), even unconscious interpretations and responses (e.g., feeling nostalgic without consciously realizing that you heard a song that reminded you of your past) reflect a person's prior experiences and beliefs. One of the goals of media literacy is to help students become more consciously aware of their responses to and interpretations of media messages.

    13. Media literacy shares the recognition of the impact of individual differences with advocates for differentiated instruction and with brain-based educators; all recognize that every brain is uniquely organized and that variation in experience, purpose, and perspective lead individuals to “create unique maps of the world”(Caine, Caine, & Crowell, 1999, p. 215).

    Chapter 2 (pp. 19–34)

    1. Aside from a few scholars who focus more on communication theory than education (e.g., Potter, 2005), most people involved with media literacy use a three- or four-element version of this definition of the term. Here are a few examples:

    “Media literacy is defined as the ability to access, understand, critically evaluate and create media content” (European Commission, 2007: retrieved from

    “We have defined media literacy as: ‘the ability to use, understand and create communications’” (Ofcom [UK communications regulator]:

    “It is the ability of a citizen to access, analyze, and produce information for specific outcomes” (Charles Firestone's foreword to the 1992 Aspen Institute “National Leadership Conference on Media Literacy” report, retrieved from

    2. See, for example, Considine & Haley (1999, p. xvii); Tyner (1998, p. 119); Wan & Cheng (2004, pp. 1–2).

    3. We use eight elements for several reasons. First, we want to avoid assumptions about what words mean that may not translate across national boundaries or disciplines. So, for example, some people assume that analysis includes understanding and evaluation, while others use evaluation also to mean analysis and understanding. In other instances, as with Ofcom's definition, it is not clear whether understanding implies analysis or whether this government agency intends to stay away from the controversies that come along with analysis. To avoid confusion, we break out the various terms.

    Second, we list understanding separately because, although in upper grade levels analysis and evaluation naturally integrate understanding, this is not always the case in early childhood, early elementary, or limited English proficiency settings. As the field creates benchmarks and curriculum sequencing for younger children, understanding will be a step that is sometimes important to distinguish from other goals.

    We add reflection to the list because it is essential to metacognition and the development of the self-motivated, lifelong learning that is required for the autonomous exercise of habits of inquiry. It is the element that requires students to take responsibility for their own learning, choices, and actions.

    We also add participation, which has not traditionally appeared in the definition but has been suggested by advocates for new media literacies as being essential to navigate the interactivity that media technologies now enable. Some practitioners might see participation as included as part of creation or access, but as with other elements of the definition, we list participation separately to avoid confusion.

    Finally, we add act in order to emphasize the importance of applying these skills to one's daily life and to make visible what is already the reality in the field. Nearly all North American media literacy organizations and many others across the globe explicitly support the position that media literacy should lead to active engagement in the community and the world.

    4. Examples would include the Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME; or the Media Literacy Project ( For an example of a government agency addressing advertising issues, see Admongo at, an online game created by the Federal Trade Commission. The Canadian group Adbusters (, which spoofs ads, is another popular resource for educators interested in this thread.

    5. There are dozens of organizations and individuals who address media literacy for parents. One useful starting place is PBS Parents's “Children and Media” at

    6. For more on a faith-based approach to media literacy, see Sr. Rose Pacatte's blog at or the articles on the Center for Media Literacy's “Media Literacy in Faith Communities” at

    7. One good place to keep up with pop culture resources for classroom use is Ryan Goble's Making Curriculum Pop at

    8. A more detailed exploration of these threads is available on the book's website.

    9. References to critical autonomy as a significant goal of media literacy are so common that it would take considerable space to list them all. A cursory sample of works including such references would include Considine & Haley (1999), Hart (1998), Kellner (1995), Masterman (1985), Semali and Pailliotet (1999), Share (2009), and Tyner (1998).

    10. See, for example, Hart (1998).

    11. A useful tool that summarizes this taxonomy of educational objectives is Michael Luhan's “Critical Thinking Wheel,” available at

    12. See also “Critical Thinking: Where to Begin” at for elements and standards along with a huge set of resources for teachers and students at different grade levels (K–12) and for educators in other contexts (e.g., homeschoolers).

    13. For those who want to explore critical thinking more deeply, we recommend, Browne & Keeley (2010), and the first three chapters of Smith (2002). Don't be dissuaded by the subtitle of Smith's work, Thinking Critically About Psychology; Smith's content applies well beyond the field of psychology.

    14. For a very good, single-source summary of new media literacies, see Jenkins, Clinton, Purushotma, Robison, and Weigel (2006), available as a free download from

    15. One of the most important pieces of scholarship applying a literacy framework to media literacy is Tyner (1998).

    16. Those who want to explore semiotics more deeply might want to read Kress and van Leeuwen (1996).

    17. For an example of a fusion of mass communications with media literacy, see Silverblatt (2008) and Potter (2005).

    18. Though this quote is often attributed to Sigmund Freud, it is not clear that he ever said those words. Researching the origin of the quote and the origin of the widespread belief that it is from Freud would make an excellent media literacy exercise.

    19. See, for example, David Buckingham's discussion in Media Education (2003, pp. 36–38). Some scholars have argued that the term literacy is specifically tied to printed words (lit being from the Greek for “letter”). They conclude that the term's etymology cannot rightly be applied to images. While we acknowledge the word's origin, words often change in meaning over time, and expanding our understanding of the existing word to include nontext media makes more sense than attempting to invent a new word that encompasses text, image, and audio.

    20. For another example of differing cross-cultural interpretations, see “Follow-up to the de Soto Decoding” in Chapter 4.

    21. For color versions of the images shown and described in this section, see the companion website.

    22. For another exercise demonstrating the power of media to create shared meaning, look at the “Branding Alphabet” created by artist Heidi Cody, in which every letter is taken from corporate logos ( You may want to invite students to create their own “brand alphabets” by clipping letters from products they use. This can be an especially revealing exercise for students who are learning English and who may know the product by a different name (and who therefore may include different letters from the logo).

    23. For a more in-depth look at the integration of visual literacy into science teaching, see the National Science Teachers Association's Developing Visual Literacy in Science, K–8 by Vasquez, Comer, and Troutman (2010).

    24. Dozens of books and websites provide lists of media production terms. An illustrated glossary of cinematic terms is available at Several media literacy texts also include production vocabulary, including Beach's (2007) web-linked book For video games, the website for the PBS program The Video Game Revolution is helpful (, as is the work of James Gee or Kurt Squire (see, for example, Gee, 2003; Squire, 2011).

    25. For other useful terms, see Pratkanis and Aronson (2001).

    Chapter 3 (pp. 35–61)

    1. See for example David Buckingham (2003, p. 4) or Art Silverblatt (2008). The latter writes that a principal goal of his detailed guide to the ways that media messages are constructed “is to provide students with the tools to develop a healthy independence from the pervasive influence of the media” (p. xi). We are not questioning the quality of Silverblatt's book, which we have used and recommended; rather we are arguing that by itself, the mastery of media deconstruction typically emphasized in a communications approach to media literacy will not result in students who exercise “healthy independence” or media literacy goals such as reflection or participation.

    2. The usage of the term citizen here is not about specific legal declarations of rights bestowed on individuals by nation-states but, rather, about participation in the civic life of one's communities (e.g., school, neighborhood, team, religious congregation, etc.), irrespective of nationality.

    3. In 1998, Renee Hobbs wrote an article entitled “The Seven Great Debates in the Media Literacy Movement,” which included disputes over whether or not production was an essential component of media literacy. Today, in a world replete with user-generated content, debates over whether media literacy needs to include production are no longer relevant.

    4. See for example, the questions included in the Key Concepts of Media Literacy on the website of Canada's Association for Media Literacy at

    5. Mergers, acquisitions, and spinoffs keep the exact number of corporate media owners in flux. People who are interested in an overview of ownership issues will want to read journalist Ben Bagdikian's seminal book, The New Media Monopoly (2004). To find current ownership information, visit

    6. For example, because it is included in daily news reports, it seems normal to accept without thinking the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) as a barometer for the nation's economic health. But stock values often increase when companies lay off workers, so the DJIA is only a valid indicator of economic well-being for a select segment of the population, not for everyone. By choosing to report the DJIA rather than, say, a measure of how many family incomes rose above the poverty line today, agenda setters normalize a particular worldview about what constitutes the nation's economic success and marginalize potentially competing views.

    7. Appreciation is an important part of media literacy, but by itself it is not adequate. So, for example, in a media literacy approach, the standard elementary school book report question “What did you like?” would ask for evidence and become “What did you like and why?” The question could also be deepened into an exercise in perspective taking by asking: “Why might someone else want to read this book?” If a teacher and librarian work together to create a computer comment forum (like's comments on books) in which students post their reviews, now you have taken a simple lesson with limited value and integrated digital literacy, increased language usage (because students are answering more complex questions), writing for an audience (which tends to improve performance), and an opportunity to read other students’ comments in a way that can initiate productive and interesting classroom discussion about why readers agree or disagree about certain books.

    8. For additional arguments questioning the utility of critical literacy for media literacy education, see Buckingham (2003, pp. 108–109).

    9. Rather than narrow the possibilities, media literacy analysis would examine context and recognize that people wield power in varying degrees. Those who lack power in one situation may have it in another (e.g., a leader may fight on behalf of oppressed people against an abusive government only to adopt oppressive policies after winning power, or an American man may enjoy the privileges of being white and wealthy but still be disadvantaged by systemic discrimination that makes him vulnerable to violence or to being fired just for being gay). In such cases, privilege is not an all-or-nothing circumstance.

    10. This relates to Mark Prensky's (2006) concept of students as “digital natives” and teachers as “digital immigrants” who struggle with the language and culture of new digital technologies. This insight is intriguing but paints a dichotomy that is probably too general.

    11. Because what teachers actually do with students is as important as the content they share with students, NAMLE's Core Principles for Media Literacy Education in the United States (Appendix A) follows each Core Principle with a list of “Implications for Practice.” This section will frequently cite from those lists.

    12. For educators and students interested in further investigation and analysis of reality TV, see, the website for Jennifer Pozner's (2010) book, Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV.

    13. For current media statistics related to children's media use, for younger children see the Kaiser Family Foundation (, and for adolescents see Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project (

    14. Our favorite source for questions to ask about statistics is Joel Best (2008) Stat-Spotting: A Field Guide to Identifying Dubious Data.

    15. For more information on cyberbullying, a good place to start is On Guard Online, a website run by the Federal Trade Commission ( Among other things, it points out that “the best tool you have to help avoid risks online is your brain” (see

    Chapter 4 (pp. 63–99)

    1. For examples of using a wide range of different forms of media documents, see Project Look Sharp's online curriculum kits Media Construction of Presidential Campaigns (1800–2008) and Media Construction of the Middle East.

    2. Also available is a booklet entitled Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Media Literacy Education, which was developed by Temple University's Media Education Lab and American University's Center for Social Media (2008). The Lab's website has the full text of the booklet accompanied by case studies and suggestions for teaching about copyright and fair use (see

    3. A good source for examples of questions that relate to specific curriculum areas is Chapter 7 in Beach (2007). For questions related to science (and news), see Appendices 2, 3, and 7 in Jarman and McClune (2007).

    4. For resources related to girls and body image, see or Girls Inc. and the Girl Scouts also have media literacy projects related to body image.

    5. There are dozens of resources that we could recommend for antibias education strategies. Good starting places include the National Association for Multicultural Education ( and the Teaching Tolerance project of the Southern Poverty Law Center ( Books and articles by Lisa Delpit and Sonia Nieto are also helpful (see, e.g., Delpit, 1995; Nieto, 2009), as is any curriculum developed by Facing History and Ourselves (

    6. We recognize that the US Department of Agriculture has recently replaced “my food pyramid” with “my plate” (, which does not list sugars and fats as food groups but instead lumps them together in a category labeled “empty calories.” We have based this example on the Project Look Sharp health kit lessons, which have been used by many early elementary teachers. The research assessing the effectiveness of those lessons shows that young children need a concrete way to think about and discuss nutritional issues like “fat” and “sugar.” Given our experience delivering lessons to students, and feedback from teachers in response to efforts to incorporate My Plate into these lessons, we have retained sugars and fats as categories that are important for children to understand and identify as present in the foods that are advertised to them. We note that some fats are actually necessary for a healthy diet (for both children and adults). We also think it is unlikely that young children will understand the abstract concept of “empty calories,” so it is not included in this lesson. But the decoding example illustrated here is not meant to be an exact script to follow, and teachers might well want to adapt it to incorporate My Plate concepts and language.

    Chapter 5 (pp. 101–119)

    1. For additional sources on using the Super Bowl as part of a media literacy lesson, see the Media Literacy Clearinghouse (at

    2. To understand the difference that attention makes, imagine skimming a magazine in a waiting room versus reading a magazine article with the intention of recounting its details to a friend or your students. You are likely to learn (and remember) much more of the content from the latter than the former, a result confirmed by psychologist Gavriel Salomon's research on attention (e.g., Salomon, 1983).

    3. The K-W-L approach, which is widely used in elementary education, was first developed by Donna Ogle (1986).

    4. For a specific example of ways to use media content as part of an assessment, see the “Twister” lesson in Chapter 7.

    5. For an introduction to interpreting the various parts of a URL, see

    6. For quick summaries of search engines applicable to education, see Kathy Schrock's website ( Also, try searching for “meta search engines” on the American Library Association website ( or “search engines” on

    7. There are a number of good resources for discussing this with students, including and See also the lesson plan “Fact or Fiction” in Chapter 7.

    8. See, for example, Alan November's (n.d.) article “Teaching Zack to Think” at It describes his experience as a social studies teacher when one of his students wrote a paper on why the Holocaust never occurred, citing as his primary source an .edu website. Science teachers may prefer to make the same point about the unreliability of URL suffixes with the purposeful hoax site, which makes a case for banning the “dangerous” substance “dihydrogen monoxide” (water).

    9. The target audience for this site is students (evidence: “Attention Students,” “Rap lyrics,” “Download flyers to pass out at your school”). Elements that lend credibility include “Civil Rights Library,” “Suggested Books,” “Historical Writings,” and “Watch the new Martin Luther King Educational Video.” Elements that are questionable include the content of the Newsweek quote on the left, “Why the King Holiday Should be Repealed,” “Black Invention Myths,” “Jews & Civil Rights,” and the overall poor quality layout and graphics on the site.

    10. Other strategies for determining website authorship include looking for an “about” section for organizational histories, board members, funding sources, and the like; finding out who links to the site by typing “link:<the site's URL>” to the search window at; or trying a “who is” search under the Web Address tab at

    11. The story of Stormfront president Don Black's effective use of the Internet to boost Stormfront membership is told chillingly in the video (produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center, 2000), including an interview with Black in which he unabashedly describes his goals in targeting children and adolescents with the website.

    12. For additional analysis strategies, see materials created by Ithaca City School District technology specialist Roger Sevilla, available at under Other Resources.

    13. Teachers looking for a less controversial site to practice with might prefer to have students analyze the hoax site designed for classroom use,, which exhorts visitors to “Save the Endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus from Extinction!”

    14. A set of headlines that you can use with secondary students to discuss agenda-setting issues is available on the book's website. It is designed to help students examine which stories would be likely to get the most coverage and why.

    15. There have been numerous reports of fictional TV characters receiving wedding presents and condolence cards when the character gets married or dies. A story by William F. Fore (1987) in the Center for Media Literacy's Media & Values magazine said that in the first week after the TV show Gilligan's Island premiered, the US Coast Guard was inundated with requests to rescue these people stranded on an island.

    16. One source for teaching about VNRs and news sourcing is a video called Toxic Sludge Is Good for You: The Public Relations Industry Unspun (2003), available through the Media Education Foundation (

    17. The 2004 Pew Research Center report “Cable and Internet Loom Large in Fragmented Political News Universe” found, for example, that more than 20 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds cited comedy and late-night talk shows as sources from which they regularly learned about campaign news. By 2008, the Pew Research Center reported this had dropped to about 10 percent, replaced by Facebook and other social-networking sites.

    18. Another helpful site is Dan Gilmor's

    19. Similarly, for videos that help students gain awareness about the structures of documentaries, see Scott Barrie's In Search of the Edge (1990), which “proves” that the world is flat, or the BBC's 1957 April Fool's Day spoof The Spaghetti Harvest (available at

    20. For a good exploration of this issue, see the video Is Seeing Believing? (1997). Produced by the Newseum, it includes a discussion of photo manipulation and other techniques that have been used to create controversial magazine covers, such as National Geographic's altering of the pyramids and Time's darkening of O.J. Simpson's skin.

    21. For a good source on journalistic terms such as these, see Silverblatt (2008).

    Chapter 6 (pp. 121–139)

    1. This book by Song Nan Zhang is frequently included in middle elementary reading lists (e.g., see a lesson plan for third grade at Other versions of the Mulan story that could be used for this type of comparison include the original poem “Ode of Mulan” (see for an English translation), the Disney storybook (Marsoli, 1998), or the video game Kingdom Hearts II (2006).

    2. For an example see the media chronology lesson in Project Look Sharp's Media Constructions of Martin Luther King, Jr. kit.

    3. This idea was suggested by Betsy Damian (2005).

    4. For example, Considine and Haley (1999) suggest using the first five minutes of the film A Beautiful Mind (2001), which is perfect for this activity.

    5. Both of these volumes are edited by Mary T. Christel and Scott Sullivan, with individual lessons written by classroom teachers. Each lesson includes a description of the context and school where the lesson has been taught, the rationale and objectives, necessary materials and preactivity steps, description of the activity, and suggestions for assessment. Media-Rich Classrooms includes a CD of handouts and materials, along with corresponding Internet links; Digital Literacies employs a companion website (similar to the one for this book), where teachers can access the relevant print and audiovisual materials and post their own experiences and suggestions.

    6. This quote has been attributed to various authors, including Alex Haley. An earlier use of that phrase was by George Orwell, in an essay in the London Tribune on February 4, 1944 (see Tracking down the different ways this sentiment has been expressed would make a terrific media literacy project.

    7. For students with limited drawing skills, there are many online resources that can facilitate this process: (for younger students); (for older students, especially for political commentary); (which, despite its suffix, is an educational site and has the benefit of creating in several languages in addition to English).

    8. See Wan and Cheng (2004) for a full description of such lessons.

    9. Good web sources for descriptions and examples of counter-ads include the people who popularized the technique, Adbusters Media Foundation (, as well as the Media Literacy Project (, the Media Literacy Clearinghouse ( and The Badvertising Institute (

    10. Some examples of this appear on the companion website.

    Chapter 7 (pp. 141–188)

    1. Other excellent sources that incorporate both media literacy approaches and inquiry-driven pedagogies related to media content and production in curriculum-specific ways include Creating Competent Communicators: Activities for Teaching Speaking, Listening, and Media Literacy (two volumes, one for K–6 classrooms and one for Grades 7–12) edited by Cooper and Morreale (2003); Media Sense (three volumes for Grades 4–6) by Booth, Lewis, Powrie, and Reeves (1998); and Bring It to Class: Unpacking Pop Culture in Literacy Learning, edited by Hagood, Alvermann, and Heron-Hruby (2010).

    2. Another example of a book with excellent curriculum-specific and inquiry-based lesson plans that could be easily tweaked (and strengthened) by adding media literacy questions is Teaching the New Writing: Technology, Change, and Assessment in the 21st-Century Classroom, edited by Herrington, Hodgson, and Moran (2009).

    3. For example, the Media Literacy Project ( does a great job of providing interesting ads for analysis and even asks many of the same questions posed in this book, but it rarely includes more than perfunctory probes for evidence, and the “correct answers” are pretty much predetermined. Jessica Parker's Teaching Tech-Savvy Kids: Bringing Digital Media Into the Classroom, Grades 5–12 (2010), Belinha De Abreu's Teaching Media Literacy (2007), and many of the lessons in Wan and Cheng's The Media-Savvy Student: Teaching Media Literacy Skills, Grades 2–6 (2004) represent creative approaches to media literacy, just not quite the inquiry-based approach we would look for in lesson design.

    Chapter Seven, Lesson Plan #3 (pp. 157–165)

    4. For a more detailed look at why human beings are often led to believe things that aren't true, even when the flaws in the argument are obvious, see Tom Gilovich's How We Know What Isn't So (1991) and Jackson and Jamieson's unSpun (2007).

    Chapter Seven, Lesson Plan #4 (pp. 166–170)

    5. Thanks to science teacher Allison Murphy from the Windsor (New York) Central School District for this idea.

    Chapter Seven, Lesson Plan #5 (pp. 171–176)

    6. This idea originally came from Renee Hobbs (Temple University), who created it in collaboration with teachers in Billerica, Massachusetts.

    Chapter Seven, Lesson Plan #6 (pp. 177–182)

    7. According to Bryan Crandall, transactive writing is “writing with real-world purposes to real-world audiences … from the perspective of an informed writer to a less-informed reader, functional writing intended to present information” (Herrington, Hodgson, & Moran, 2009, p. 110).

    8. Emily Brown was a senior journalism major who was doing an internship with Project Look Sharp in 2004 when we asked her to “cover” our annual conference, creating two different versions of newspaper articles about it—one making it look great, one making it look awful—without lying. At the final plenary session, we gave each participant a copy of the two versions of the article. It was eye-opening—and a little disconcerting to those of us running the conference—how effectively Emily could use things like word choices and selective use and placement of quotes to create positive or negative impressions about the conference without saying anything that was factually untrue. We have continued to use “the Emily Brown lesson” in our courses and workshops ever since, although eventually we changed the names of the organization, location, and individuals in the articles to make them more generic. Emily graduated from Ithaca College in 2005 and later went on to earn a master's degree in Library and Informational Studies with Teacher Certification at the University of Rhode Island. She is currently an elementary school librarian and hosts an active blog commenting on news, educational research, and other media reports.

    9. A great source describing biased reportorial techniques can be found in the chapter on journalism in Silverblatt's Media Literacy: Keys to Interpreting Media Messages (2008, pp. 242–247).

    Chapter Seven, Lesson Plan #7 (pp. 183–188)

    10. Chris Sperry has been doing the Middle East Debates with his tenth-grade students at the Lehman Alternative Community School in Ithaca, New York, for more than twenty years as part of their authentic assessment and final performance in his global studies course. Articles documenting the success of the Middle East Debates have appeared in Democracy & Education (1991), Social Education (2006b), and the Journal of Media Literacy Education (2010).

    11. See OxFeed ( for Chris Sperry's online news feed.

    Chapter 8 (pp. 189–200)

    1. The British Film Institute has also been a pioneer in the fashioning of developmentally appropriate media literacy. See Using Film in Schools: A Practical Guide (2010), retrieved from

    2. Sources for additional stories are listed on the book's website.

    3. Research on media literacy education is found in communications, psychology, and education journals, including the Journal of Media Literacy Education (

    Chapter 9 (pp. 201–206)

    1. The elementary school teachers who participated in this project were Laurie Rubin (Cayuga Heights), Millicent Clarke-Maynard (Beverly J. Martin), and Karen Griffen (Enfield) in the Ithaca City School District in upstate New York.

    2. There is a large and convincing body of anecdotal evidence that media literacy education succeeds at engaging students, including those who previously have been uninterested or quiet; see specific sources listed on the book's website.

    Corwin: A SAGE Company

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