Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Sample Media Task

As part of the Media Part 2 A.Q. course I have already referenced, the outline of two lessons incorporating media was required. I posted them to the discussion board in the course, but figured they may also fit in here.

Below is a c&p of the assignment:

Rational for choosing the lessons

The two lessons selected get to the crux of what I believe the media curriculum is intended to do. They promote critical thoughts, analysis and consumption of media with the students, and then they allow the students to use the language and conventions of media to create their own content and messaging.

Overview of each Lesson

Lesson 1: Interpreting a Media Message

  1. Video clip – Nissan Polar Bear commercial. Show clip. Discuss with elbow partner.
  2. Show clip again. Ask the following questions:
    1. What is the purpose of the commercial?
    2. Who made the commercial?
    3. What is the message of the commercial?
    4. How is the viewer supposed to feel after watching the commercial?
    5. What powerful images where there?
    6. Is anyone missing in this commercial?
    7. What is being implied about other car manufacturers?
    8. What could or should have been done differently?
    9. Students work in groups to brainstorm their ideas. Each group given one of the questions above. Use chart paper to record answers.
    10. Share with class.
    11. Record your personal response (either in written or blog format)

Lesson 2: Creating a Media Message

  1. Each group will be assigned a task. They will have a camera or iPad to record their end product. The tasks are:
    1. Create a commercial for a rival car manufacturer to respond to this one.
    2. Create a TV news broadcast interviewing the Polar Bear about his journey and the reason for it.
    3. Create an interview with the people who created the commercial, asking them to explain each scene and why they did it the way they did.
    4. Create an interview with a rival car manufacturer asking their feelings about this commercial and its implications.
    5. Create a sequel to this commercial for Nissan.
  1. Once completed, the students will post their videos to the class YouTube channel. They will also embed them in the class wiki. Students will stay in the role that they were assigned to give appropriate comments to other students work in the comments section of the wiki (eg a rival car company will respond to the Nissan sequel as the rival and so on).

Curriculum expectations addressed

Oral Communications

2.1 identify a variety of purposes for speaking and explain how the purpose and intended audience influence the choice of form

2.2 demonstrate an increasingly sophisticated understanding of appropriate speaking behaviour in a variety of situations, including paired sharing, dialogue, and small- and large-group discussions

2.3 communicate orally in a clear, coherent manner, using appropriate organizing strategies and formats to link and sequence ideas and information

2.5 identify a range of vocal effects, including tone, pace, pitch, volume, and a variety of sound effects, and use them appropriately and with sensitivity towards cultural differences to help communicate their meaning

2.7 use a variety of appropriate visual aids, to support or enhance oral presentations

3.1 identify, in conversation with the teacher and peers, what strategies they found most helpful before, during, and after listening and speaking and what steps they can take to improve their oral communication skills


1.1 identify the topic, purpose, and audience for a variety of writing forms

1.2 generate ideas about a potential topic and identify those most appropriate for the purpose

1.6 determine whether the ideas and information they have gathered are relevant, appropriate, and adequate for the purpose, and do more research if necessary

Media Literacy

1.1 explain how a variety of media texts address their intended purpose and audience

1.2 interpret media texts, using overt and implied messages as evidence for their interpretations

1.3 evaluate the effectiveness of the presentation and treatment of ideas, information, themes, opinions, issues, and/or experiences in media texts

1.4 explain why different audiences might have different responses to media texts

1.5 identify whose point of view is presented in a media text, identify missing or alternative points of view, and, where appropriate, determine whether the chosen view achieves a particular goal

1.6 identify who produces various media texts, the reason for their production, how they are produced, and how they are funded

2.2 identify the conventions and techniques used in some familiar media forms and explain how they help convey meaning and influence or engage the audience

3.1 describe in specific detail the topic, purpose, and audience for media texts they plan to create, and identify challenges they may face in achieving their purpose

3.2 identify an appropriate form to suit the specific purpose and audience for a media text they plan to create, and explain why it is an appropriate choice

3.3 identify conventions and techniques appropriate to the form chosen for a media text they plan to create, and explain how they will use the conventions and techniques to help communicate their message

3.4 produce a variety of media texts for specific purposes and audiences, using appropriate forms, conventions, and techniques

Resources needed for the lessons


Flip Cameras

Laptop Cart

Chart Paper

Class YouTube Channel

Class Blog/Wiki

Any necessary Accommodations/Modifications

The students will work in self-selected groups. Within each group, students will be encouraged to assign roles, to ensure that all students are actively participating. As this is a plan for an imaginary class, the accommodations would depend on the need, but are too varied to list. An example of a more common accommodation that may be applied is for the ‘comments’ section of lesson 2. Students may use assistive technologies such as Premier or Dragon to dictate their comments prior to copying them in the box. Another example is the inclusion of the lesson and task sequence and outline in the class wiki for those students who need to be able to access a schedule or anchor for a given task.

Assessment overview and tools needed:

The assessment would not address all of the expectations outlined as that is simply unmanageable, rather it would reflect the identified learning goals and co-constructed success criteria.

Parts of this assignment where assessment is occurring:

Lesson 1 Step 3 and 4 – Assessment of students oral communications skills (teacher checklist of expectations completed through observation and small-group conferencing).

Lesson 1 Step 5 – The written task will provide the teacher a chance to assess the students understanding of the expectations 1.1-2.2, and the associated writing expectations.

Lesson 2 Step 1 – The student work product will allow for teacher assessment of student understanding of media expectations 2.2-3.4.

Lesson 2 Step 2 – Will allow for peer assessment of students, and also allow for teacher assessment of 1.1-2.2, and the associated writing expectations.


Assessing Student Media Work

The process for assessing student work in media should not differ from the process of assessment in any other area of the curriculum. The links within this process will take you to items from the Greater Essex County District School Board that I have helped to develop to clarify some of this terminology.

Firstly, you will identify the curriculum expectations that you are going to focus on, preferably clustering these with expectations from other curriculum areas to create a cross-curricular approach.

Once the curriculum expectations have been selected and clustered, the teacher will develop a “Learning Goal” for the class, which is essentially a statement in student-friendly terms of what the learning during this course or unit will be.

From the “Learning Goal”, the teacher will work with the students to co-construct “Success Criteria“. The success criteria are the things that the student will do that will show they have reached the learning goal. Some teachers work with students to co-create rubrics to reflect what success in each of these criteria will look like.

Next comes the assessment. Once students have started to work on the tasks that are derived from the learning goal and success criteria, the teacher will start to assess and give “Descriptive Feedback“. This assessment and feedback is related only to the learning goals and success criteria for the lesson.

So why is it important to stress this process? The temptation for teachers when creating or engaging in media projects is to give students assessments and feedback based on their use of a specific tool or resource. For example, a class using Glogster may have the teacher assess and provide feedback on the number of features the student used in the resource, rather than on whether the content they created met the criteria established for success. We are never assessing the students proficiency with a technology tool, rather their ability to meet curriculum expectations using that tool.

With all of this said and understood, there are still a variety of creative ways that student work can be assessed when it comes to media expectations. Ideally, the class would see a mixture of self-, peer- and teacher led assessments throughout the course of the work. One benefit to assessing media products is that they are often published online and the world can be engaged in the assessment and critique.Various tools could be employed such as online survey tools, CPS or Clicker units, comments sections of blogs, wikis or YouTube channels, or by the creation of products within globally published platforms such as Prezi, Glogster and Popplet.

Regardless of the vehicle used by the student to create the work, or the tool employed to assess the work, it can and must only be judged against curriculum expectations shared with the student at the outset of the project. We must resist the temptation to assess the glitz and glamour of the work and focus on the content and conventions employed.

Suggestions for Integrating Media

There are countless ways to integrate media expectations into the classroom throughout the curriculum. Here is a list of some web tools, along with suggestions on how they can support media literacy expectations.

Twitter – Twitter is one of the fastest growing web tools available. It is increasingly becoming the place where news is broken, often directly from those involved in the story. Few other resources are doing as much to make daily newspapers obsolete (the refrain of “why read yesterday’s news” is a common one on this topic).

Despite this, the uses of Twitter in the classroom have to be crafted skillfully and thoughtfully by the teacher. There are many great examples of the power of Twitter as a school’s primary media communication, or even for a specific department.

It is a tool that can be used on a much richer level also. I am reminded of a story told to me by a fascinating teacher from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. When using a textbook with his class to look at patterns of human migration in the United States, a student asked the question all media teachers must strive to get – “How do we know the map in the textbook is accurate?”. The class subsequently took to Twitter and engaged the world in a quick survey on where do you live and where were you born. They created their own map, based on their own research and ended with a much deeper understanding and appreciation for the topic than they ever would have got by simply pursuing the textbook.

YouTube – YouTube is the ultimate place to consume information. Research has shown the shift in learning from our current students, who no longer think to “Google” something they are researching, but instead will go to YouTube for a much richer and visually appealing (and less wordy!) explanation or tutorial on any given topic.

The key to a teacher harnessing the power of YouTube in the classroom is in understanding that the media expectations in the curriculum are often more deeply understood when the students become the creators of the content rather than the consumers. Using YouTube as a place to publish student work products to the world, and for the world to respond, can be easily integrated into any curriculum area and is a key foundational skill for 21st century communication.

An interesting example of this, and a place where media is not usually embraced, is in the mathematics classroom. We work very hard on having students communicate their understanding and processes in this subject, but what better way to deepen this learning than by having them creating and publish a video showing how they solved a problem or reached a solution?

Glogster – Glogster is a tool that allows the students to gather and present a vast array of information in one place. A ‘Glog’ is essentially a poster or bristol board where students can represent their thinking and understanding of any topic by creating a media text.

An example of where this can be used is as a replacement for the traditional FSE, or “unit test” that a teacher may administer to assess student understanding. At the end of the next social studies unit, why not ask the students to create a ‘Glog’ representing everything they know about the topic covered. Once again, the depth of understanding when we put students in the role of knowledge and content creator is far deeper than a traditional paper and pencil test will get us/

Bitstrips – Every teacher and student in Ontario is licensed to use Bitstrips. It is a comic creation tool (and remember, a comic is a media product) that can be used throughout the curriculum. Examples are limitless, but can include such diverse ideas as a comic strip to represent fiction or non-fiction writing in the language class, to a comic strip representing the process and discovery during a scientific experiment, to a depiction of an event from medieval times in social studies.

PBWorks – PBWorks is a free wiki. A wiki is a collaborative online workspace, where student and teachers can post work and information and respond to that of others. When used well a wiki can form the backbone of the classroom, with student work posted, leading to peer evaluations, or even as a communication tool to the world beyond the classroom. In any sense, the wiki is a community media project and as such the content posted is closely linked to the expectations in the media curriculum, or is simply a vehicle to publish media products created in other platforms.

Project Look Sharp is a media literacy initiative of the Division of Interdisciplinary & International Studies at Ithaca College, working in collaboration with local school districts, New York State BOCES, the National Association for Media Literacy Education (formerly AMLA), and other national media literacy organizations.

This project outlined 12 basic ways to integrate media literacy and critical thinking into the curriculum. The report is a valuable tool for making links between curriculum areas and inspiring creativity with teachers

Classroom Resources for Media

There are a number of resources available to teachers online as they blend the study of media into their programs. Below are some of the ones I would recommend and a description of why it could be useful.

Media Awareness Network: The ‘Media Awareness Network’, now known as ‘Media Smarts’ is a not-for-profit Canadian charitable organization that provides a plethora of media resources for teachers and students.

TES Media Resources: This resources is from England and provides lesson plans, resources and inspiration for teachers to integrate media studies in their classrooms. The resources are aimed for students 14+

Teachers’ Domain: Teachers’ Domain is a free digital media service for educational use from public broadcasting and its partners. You’ll find thousands of media resources, support materials, and tools for classroom lessons, individualized learning programs, and teacher professional learning communities.

Common Sense Media: “Common Sense Media offers this FREE Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum to help educators empower their students and their school communities to be safe, responsible, and savvy as they navigate this fast-paced digital world”

eWorkshop: eWorkshop is an online teaching resource providing support for teachers across curriculum areas.

Curriculum Services Canada: CSC offers a variety of supports for teachers from webcasts to classroom resources.

The Importance of Media Studies

When looking for a rationale behind the inclusion of Media Literacy as part of our curriculum, where better to explore than the curriculum document itself? Here are a couple of great quotes that get to the heart of why the inclusion of Media, throughout the curriculum and not just in Language Arts, is an essential experience for our students:

Whereas traditional literacy may be seen to focus primarily on the understanding of the word, media literacy focuses on the construction of meaning through the combination of several media “languages” – images, sounds, graphics, and words.

Media literacy explores the impact and influence of mass media and popular culture by examining texts such as films, songs, video games, action figures, advertisements, CD covers, clothing, billboards, television shows, magazines, newspapers, photographs, and websites.3 These texts abound in our electronic information age, and the messages they convey, both overt and implied, can have a significant influence on students’ lives. For this reason, critical thinking as it applies to media products and messages assumes a special significance.

Students’ repertoire of communication skills should include the ability to critically interpret the messages they receive through the various media and to use these media to communicate their own ideas effectively as well.

Becoming conversant with these and other media can greatly expand the range of information sources available to students, their expressive and communicative capabilities, and their career opportunities.

Essentially, the ability to interpret and understand the content and motive of media messaging is integral to 21st century students understanding the world around them. As the amount of information multiplies, and is augmented by the explosion of social media, it is equally important that the students understand how to portray themselves and their messages to the world. The fundamental principles that underpin digital and media literacy understanding and creation are conventions and language that our students need as we prepare them for life beyond the classroom.

The Centre for Media Literacy shares an interesting list of 10 benefits of Media Literacy Education. This is a useful reference point and rationale for educators, while the video below pushes the moral imperative teachers face on bringing media conversations and opportunities into the classroom.