Teaching Media Literacy Skills to 21st Century Students

In today's fast paced technology focused world we need to give students the tools to process all of the information they are exposed to each day.  Students do not receive all of their information through books anymore, they have moved into using digital tools to find out about topics. It is important that educators help students navigate through this new digital world they belong to with purposeful digital citizenship and media awareness lessons from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

In today's fast paced technology focused world we need to give students the tools to process all of the information they are exposed to each day.

Students do not receive all of their information through books anymore, they have moved into using digital tools to find out about topics. It is important that educators help students navigate through this new digital world they belong to with purposeful digital citizenship and media awareness lessons.

If you are looking for specific media awareness lessons check out the Media Smarts website. Another useful resource for technology and digital citizenship ideas is the ISTE website.

Below is a curated Twitter chat with specific ideas on teaching media literacy and digital citizenship to our 21st century students. Ideas are from our weekly #2ndaryELA Twitter chat participants.

Q1: Is media literacy a component of your curriculum? Explain what you are required to teach.
  • I teach short films (mood, character, plot), persuasive techniques, and photo analysis. I like showing students a wide range of texts
  • The Common Core standards touch on media literacy and 7th & 8th graders at my school have a media class
  • It is a requirement to teach and it has to be given a grade and a comment on the report card in Ontario.
  • Required, different types of media is in the curriculum. Use, all the time whenever possible: videos, audios, shorts.
  • Media Literacy is a separate strand with it's own TEKS for all secondary ELA grade levels in TX.
  • Media literacy is a huge part of our 12th gr curriculum. We teach digital citizenship, digital visual aids, online research. 
  • Media literacy is not a specific separate component. Our curriculum references print and media texts throughout.
  • We are addressing the Common Core standards by adding media literacy to many of our pre-existing units.
  • Not really, but adding social media assignments, short clips (YouTube!), etc.
  • TX media lit TEKS include compare and contrast within and across different forms. Also analysis and evaluation of messages 
  • The media class does all sorts of things: analyzing film, debates based on current events, research 
  • Nothing specific to media literacy outside of what is covered in CCSS. We integrate as much as we can.

Q2: Why is it important for students to critically evaluate media texts? 
  • Students "read" more media than just books, and need to analyze what they receive for purpose, bias, and cultural capital
  • It's easy for students to believe everything they read on the Internet. Need to know what is true, reliable to make good decisions 
  • We are all digital citizens now. It is important for students to critically think about media and the messages they get daily 
  • I want students to critically evaluate everything. With how we are inundated with media I would hope they would evaluate this also
  • In a world with unlimited access to information, students need to know how to be effective consumers of that info! 
  • Because of the overabundance of underwhelming material online, students need to develop a critical eye for source identification. 
  • We focus heavily on persuasion in Eng2 so students need to be able to evaluate messages they receive and send.  Students have access to so much information that they need to be able to understand, sort through, and use the information they find  
  • So important to know how to dive in but swim through it effectively also
  • So much of the communication bombarding people is through media. Mostly daily literacy is not through books
  • Students exposed to more "media" than traditional text. This is their world, necessary to analyze and evaluate what is being presented
  • We want students to read all of the texts they encounter by approaching with a critical lens, including media texts 
  • Also, this is the ONLY way most of our students are getting their info! We have to give them the tools to process the info. 
  • I've been shocked by how little they know. Students clicking on ads thinking they were articles because no one taught them otherwise. 

Q3: How do you teach this important skill?
  • We start with "obvious" texts (like WW2 prop) and move to more subtle ones. We compare different approaches to the same topic.  For ex. "what is the ad selling?" "How are you being manipulated as a viewer?" etc. I love teaching color marketing, too 
  • I start with the basics of different media forms and how they are constructed. Then we move into higher level analysis 
  • Ongoing modeling, consistent conferencing, analysis of materials used, peer reviews
  • Ethos, pathos, logos and commercials. We then use a similar application to persuasive texts and speeches
  • Model good use, teach them how to search for info, and what makes sources credible
  • We also look at fake media websites and videos to help our critical thinking develop i.e. North American Tree Octopus 
  • Try to incorporate a variety of medium as often as possible. Use connected texts to help students transfer skills
  • We use SOAPSTONE to teach rhetorical analysis. Understanding why & how authors communicate a message is necessary to responding
  • I like to start by comparing the structure of the writing. How is the title, byline or headline getting your attention?
  • We can start by modeling critical questions such as: whose voice/viewpoint is represented and whose is not?
  • Just did a lesson with 9th where they read about the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide. Most voted to ban it. Then we do further research and discover that dihydrogen monoxide is water. Showed dangers of believing everything you read
  • Different news reports/news sites reporting the same event. Helps to see the different lenses through which info is spread 

Q4: How do we prepare our students for appropriate social media usage (i.e. helping them stay safe online)?
  • We discuss Digital Citizenship at length and look at examples of good/bad with celebrities
  • I don't think social media usage is dealt with explicitly enough in the classroom. The ramifications or benefits 
  • Staying safe online is also apart of our Health curriculum so students learn about it in English and Health.
  • My 7th graders have a hard time referencing sources without plagiarizing. I send them to sites to check their work.
  • Model professional, productive usage and give them authentic opportunities to do the same.
  • Digital citizenship is a new concept to students who see social media as normal as talking face to face.
  • This is a tough one. I feel like my students "know" this but don't apply it well at all - post things they shouldn’t all the time. 
  • Thought about having students create PSA videos for other students on internet safety and usage.

Q5: Share your favourite media literacy lessons, resources, ideas


In today's fast paced technology focused world we need to give students the tools to process all of the information they are exposed to each day. Students do not receive all of their information through books anymore, they have moved into using digital tools to find out about topics. It is important that educators help students navigate through this new digital world they belong to with purposeful digital citizenship and media awareness lessons.


No comments

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

Back to Top