Media literacy at the middle level
Redmond, Theresa Anne
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The experience of children and adolescents is increasingly mediated by information and communication technologies. Yet, the trajectory for literacy education in U.S. schools continues to prioritize print literacy. As a result, students often lack the knowledge, skills, and expertise needed to ‘read and write’ in the digital world of the twenty-first century. Concerned by the influence of media to empower or exploit young people, educators at many levels are discovering media literacy as an augmentation to traditional literacy. The purpose of this research was to investigate how teachers implemented media literacy in practice. The following subquestions were also examined: (1) How do teachers define 'media literacy'? (2) Why do teachers teach media literacy? (3) What are the outcomes of media literacy teaching? (4) What are the challenges, limitations, and opportunities teachers experience when implementing media literacy? To answer these questions, a case study was conducted of three teachers as they collaborated in implementing a media literacy curriculum at the middle level. The results suggest that teachers who implement media literacy were motivated by awareness and knowledge of childhood and adolescent development, particularly related to increases in media use and the extent to which media shape the choices of children and teens. Media literacy practice was constructivist, embodying a student-centered approach where teachers served to guide students' media literacy learning, facilitating active learning, co-viewing , critical inquiry and reflection in a classroom climate where students' analysis and interpretations of media messages were respected and valued. Teachers worked to preserve students' enjoyment of media, acknowledging popular media as a valuable part of adolescent culture and identity, while encouraging critical inquiry. Media literacy activities consisted of viewing, labeling, and discussing commercial media that was relevant, accessible, and meaningful for students . Learning outcomes included: (a) increased awareness of all media messages as constructed; (b) the development of vocabulary to analyze and deconstruct media messages; (c) skill building in critical inquiry; and (d) empowerment via video production as assessment. Despite findings related to effective teaching practices, the results also indicate that curricular placement for media literacy continues to be a challenge for interested teachers and administrators.
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