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