media literacy

The Importance of Media Literacy for Our Students

Incorporating concepts in media literacy while teaching subject content allows teachers to prepare students for new career paths.

In the past, students were taught the basic academic subjects: reading, writing, arithmetic, and science. As education continues to acclimate to a world in which students have answers — that are not always correct — at their fingertips, teachers must actively promote media literacy. Successfully navigating through the process of strengthening media literacy, as defined by the Media Literacy Project, requires students to “…access, analyze, evaluate, and create media.” In addition to the print, radio, and television resources of years past, today’s students have access to a variety of media including social media, the online rantings of self-described experts, and factual sources of information on the internet.

When Will I Ever Use This?

media literacyTeachers might be accustomed to hearing this question on a regular basis, but when it comes to media literacy, teachers themselves might be the source of this question. Teachers often feel overwhelmed by the amount of content they have to cover in a school year, so incorporating additional information into lessons might seem impossible. But by cultivating these abilities in students, teachers will promote the 4 Cs, which are integral to 21st-century skills: communication, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration.

While these skills are considered 21st century, teachers shouldn’t feel intimidated about finding ways to incorporate media literacy in daily lessons. As the Media Literacy Project reveals, teachers can focus on other subjects while using media literacy as a tool.

“Media literacy skills are included in the educational standards of every state — in language arts, social studies, health, science, and other subjects. Many educators have discovered that media literacy is an effective and engaging way to apply critical thinking skills to a wide range of issues.”

In response to the initial question, teachers will use media literacy in any subjects they wish. By examining the principles of media literacy, educators can match lesson plans in certain subjects with skills that students will use in the future.

How to Teach Media Literacy

media literacyTo be clear, media literacy is a skill that is acquired over time. Though students might have access to different sources of news and information, the skill lies within how they can process, discuss, use, repurpose, and conceive their own messages to inform others. An easy first step toward bringing media literacy to the classroom is to share mainstream print magazines with students. Ask them to choose an advertisement to study and critique. Once they choose their ads, work through the concepts in media literacy with students and guide them through the process of reaching their own conclusions regarding the target audience, message, and purpose of the ads.

After using this method, work toward critically comparing editorial pieces from news sources or magazines that are based in opposing points of view. Whether students study men’s and women’s magazines, conservative and liberal publications, or simply newspapers from different regions, children should be able to identify the different priorities and messages for every perspective.

As students prepare to enter the workforce, prospective employers will seek candidates who have already honed their media literacy skills and think critically about information they read and hear. Help students remain competitive for a future in the workforce by incorporating these 21st century skills into your lessons.

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Dorothy Crouch is a California-based writer who has covered many topics such as financial technology, travel and the pet-goods industry. Born and raised in New York City, she pursued her undergraduate degree at Hunter College and an M.S., Publishing degree through Pace University. Combining her love of learning and curiosity of the world, Dorothy studied abroad at Dublin, Ireland’s Trinity College, igniting a passion for travel. Dorothy’s thirst for knowledge and love of learning has led her to travel the world and pursue higher learning, including scuba certification. A lifelong animal lover, Dorothy lives in Los Angeles with her husband, their fish and two lovable, spoiled dogs.

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