Final Project Medlit

Hi everyone,

Here is our final project for our critical media literacy toolkit. I hope people find this useful and we welcome any feedback. It’s been great developing more strategies and putting together various concepts. I look forward to adding to this toolkit in the future.

Use, Understand, and Create!


Argument in the Real World – Chapter 5


The theme for this weeks reading centered on using video to develop arguments. Overall, this chapter had a lot of excellent ideas about how to construct and think about video in a classroom setting. In particular, I found the suggestions for appealing emotionally to the viewer as an excellent way of framing how video can be used. While some students may have difficulty with the technical aspects of course content and constructing arguments, students should all be able to think about topics on a human and emotional level. In fact, this is perhaps a more important skill to foster than some of the higher order tasks that we work to develop. In order to think on an emotional and human level, the authors suggest layering audio over images, selecting short quotes, and using cinematic techniques like close-ups and establishing shots.

In addition to some of the specific techniques discussed in this chapter, Turner and Hicks also made a compelling case for why video can be a good use of time. The authors note that all genres and uses of video are a form of argument that present claims, evidence and warrants. As a result, it is hard not to be developing ones argumentation skills when constructing videos. Also, the quote from Ken Burns that “all story is manipulation” was a good reminder of how one can think about what they are both creating and consuming. While the authors note that we should strive to construct “acceptable manipulation,” it is important to understand the intent and techniques of any filmmaker.


Argument in the Real World – Chapters 3-4

Chapters 3-4 of this book covered the use of blogs and infographics in crafting digital arguments. For the most part, the chapters were finely written, yet did not reveal a whole lot that I didn’t already know. Probably the most important concept from chapter 3 were that digital technology offers the opportunity to “remix” information in new ways. Along this same line of thinking, the author’s also emphasized that teachers should allow opportunities for crafting new digital products instead of simply reproducing what could be done on paper.

Although a lot of the topics in chapters 3 and 4 were not very new, I appreciated some of the ideas for taking the ideas covered throughout the chapters into the classroom (I wish this was a larger part of each chapter). One idea that I found interesting was to categorize the links from two different web based stories about the same topic in order to compare and contrast where the information originated. This seems like a great way to have students check out the research conducted for news stories while also building an appreciation for descriptions of events may change based on what information one focuses on.

Another reoccurring theme between the two chapters from this week was the idea of how to approach plagiarism and copyright. For the most part, Turner and Hicks seem to acknowledge that the rules are a bit different on the internet. The authors cite Renee Hobbs and the idea that “fair use gives people a right to use copyrighted material when the cost to the copyright holder is less than the social benefit of the use of the copyrighted work.” This is an interesting concept that makes complete sense on an ethical level (while I am not sure if this would work as a legal justification). Overall, after reading these two chapters I am curious as to what the best way to respect the traditional rules on sourcing and copyright while adapting to a changing world in which some rules may not be completely necessary anymore.


Medlit – Engagement and Apathy Through Critical Media Literacy

After completing the readings for this week, I was really inspired by the article “Seeing, believing, and learning to be skeptical.” In particular, I was struck by the significant learning that can take place by using visuals involving a minimal amount of text. While the article was aimed at teaching English Language Learners, the main premises of the article would also apply well to struggling or unmotivated readers. The primary take-away that I had from the article is that complex thinking can still occur even if students are not engaged in voluminous amounts of reading. This is something that can often be overlooked as students may have the ability to generate tremendous insights about the world but are not able to get to higher order thinking tasks due to difficulties reading. This article also made me realize that one does not always have to be involved in complex reading and writing activities to develop basic literacy skills.

Another thing that Hobbs, He, and Robbgrieco’s article made me think about what the opportunities that visuals have for engaging learners. As the article discussed, advertising allows an opportunity to bring more of the student’s world into the classroom. In addition, there is the opportunity to bring in humor and other elements entertaining elements that may be lacking in a student’s day. Furthermore, with an emphasis on improving basic literacy skills, students may be reading or writing for the majority of classes in their school day. As a result, I see many of the activities from this weeks articles as a way to engage students in critical thinking while giving them a rest from another reading assignment.


Sullivan’s article also provided a nice reminder that students have a lot of potential to think critically, but they often need a framework to help organize their thoughts and discussions. I liked that the instructor provided a graphic organizer with key elements of persuasion to look for. Like telling students to go out and just shoot a movie, often times students are given the task of watching a video without much guidance as to what to look for. While I am sure that many students intuitively know many of the techniques and strategies discussed in the article, providing a name for the strategy and narrowing in on what students should be looking for is a nice way to support their learning.


One area that I had questions about from these readings is if students can successfully translate the skills that they learned to events and media outside the classroom. While the activities are obviously designed to connect to events happening in the world outside the classroom, in my experience students do not always have an easy time applying what they learned to new situations. Therefore, I am curious as to what strategies can be used to support students in making further connections and build their skills at analyzing the world outside the classroom. In addition, I would like to see what has been shown to be have been successful in helping students to accomplish this goal.

The last thing that I was a bit concerned with when reading Sullivan’s article is how to foster critical thinking in the classroom about political speech without causing students to be cynical. I fear that the process could actually lead to more apathy amongst youths as students watch negative add campaigns and dissect the persuasive techniques being used. My fear is that more students walk away with the attitude that, ‘they both look bad.”


Medlit – Bringing Media Literacy Skills to the Digital World

The first realization that I had after completing this week’s course readings is that digital literacy requires a reorientation of how we view the relationship between people and the information that they encounter. Traditionally, I have viewed media as being divided between the consumers and producers of information. However, a recurring theme is that one must view the information that is created digitally as part of a much more complex system in which people are consumes as well as producers. As a result, what continually stood out is the need for youths to engage in digital media and be mentored on how to properly navigate the competing sources of information that they may be encountering.å

While there is definitely a need for teens to think critically about online information, the dual role of youths as consumers and producers of information raises also raises a few questions. For example, how do we teach students to be producers of information while asking them to step back as unbiased observers? I am curious if youths are able to easily compartmentalize their thinking when they may often have a vested interest in what has been created. With the blurring of lines between social media platforms and dissemination of new, it also seems incredibly challenging for students to determine when to initiate their media literacy skills. I imagine many teens often have their “guard down” when interacting on platforms like snapchat. Conversely, if teens are taught to always be critical when consuming information, will this lead to other social issues down the road? How can media be viewed with a critical eye without engendering a deep sense of cynicism?

Despite these concerns, I was also encouraged by the potential for digital literacy to open up new ways of thinking for students. Reoccurring questions in the readings like, “How might someone else interpret this differently” seem to offer the opportunity for students to build empathy and understand multiple perspectives.

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We all need practice thinking about how others might see things differently.

“What’s Going On In This Picture” also seems to provide students with engaging activities to think deeply about a wide variety of content without necessarily having to get the “right” answer. Furthermore, these types of activities offers opportunities to think about visual information in a more authentic way that does not simply feel like an assignment or checklist.

After reading the first parts of Caulfield’s book, I was also reminded of the overlap between traditional propaganda techniques and what digital citizens are encountering on a daily basis. The statement that particularly stuck with me was where Caulfield noted,  “If every time content you want to share makes you feel rage, or laughter, or ridicule, or, sorry to say, a heartwarming buzz — spend 30 seconds fact-checking.” Playing on one’s emotions, while not new, seems to be incredibly prevalent in the digital world and done in a very sophisticated manner. Overall, after reading the first few sections of Caulfield’s book, my main thought was that I should dig out my old propaganda unit in order to start teaching about digital literacy. I am also curious about how much attention is being placed on the logical fallacies that are often used in digital content to influence and create an emotional response (i.e. slippery slope arguments, false dichotomies, etc.). Although the manipulation of visuals and statistics are important areas to focus on, I wonder if this area will be focused on in any of our readings going forward.

BEDUC 566 – Service Learning Final Reflection

One of the major focuses for my district has been on improving equity for students and families. As discussed at the beginning of this project, many families struggle with technology and are not clear on how much of the student technology in our district works. Digital media offers the potential to provide support to families that may need to see things visually because of difficulties understanding how technology works or because English may not be their first language. In addition, many families do not have the time or flexibility in their schedule to attend registration in technology training events. As a result, digital media offers the opportunity for a greater number of families to access school resources and information on their own time.

The collaboration that took place between the leadership class, the counseling department and the administration also reminded me of the power of digital media. Through this project I was able to introduce and combine more voices and create a product that had greater transparency than a meeting or registration event. Everyone that was part of the project was able to review my work and provide feedback. In addition, unlike traditional means of communication, the videos that were created guaranteed that everyone was being offered the same message.

When thinking about the limitations on the potential for digital media to improve the school environment, it is still clear that not everyone has access to the materials and tools provided. While the goal of this assignment was to help bridge the digital divide that exists, access to high-speed internet is still a barrier for many families. In addition, families that use cell phones to access the internet may be able to access the internet, but many sites and tools still have limited functionality when using mobile devices. Another limitation is that it is still difficult to provide a location or spread the word about a tool to families and students. Even though I think some of the videos that I created for this assignment may be useful, I am not sure how families and students will find out about them. Yes, the school website is useful, but often times families that need support with technology do not know how to navigate a website or sift through all of the information posted there. As a result, I am hoping that the counselors will help provide support and links to the work that I have completed. Otherwise, the same problems are being perpetuated.

In the end, I think that much of what I created can be useful for providing more information to students and families. I would like to add to what I have already done as well as make sure that the work is visible and accessible to others.

Here is what I completed during the quarter as part of this project: