Media Literacy In
Author: Dr. Renee Hobbs
Associate Professor of Communication
Babson College, Wellesley, MA
Published as "Media Literacy
in Massachusettts," in Andrew Hart (Ed.) Teaching the Media Worldwide.
Mahwah, N.J: Erlbaum Associates, 1998.
In the United States, media
literacy initiatives have often been based on the efforts of a single
teacher in a school or district, working alone. Teachers in the subject
areas of language arts, video production or social studies-- most usually
at the middle-school level and above-- frequently become attracted to
issues relevant to media literacy, for one or more of a wide spectrum
of reasons ranging from the desire to protect children from media manipulation
to an interest in promoting social change (Hobbs, 1995). Teachers who
begin to experiment with media literacy in the K - 12 classroom are
often unaware that there exists a network of educational resources and
educators who share their interests, or a theoretical literature which
examines the pedagogy of media studies. Frequently, these individuals
will have devoted significant self-study to the issue and developed
their own approaches to teaching media literacy before they ever become
aware of others engaged in similar work. 1
Occasionally, their backgrounds
in media studies and media pedagogy come from reading TV criticism and
reports on the media business in the pages of the local newspaper, reporting
on Hollywood and the media business as part of entertainment TV, and
critics, scholars and popular writers including Marie Winn, Neil Postman,
Jerry Mander, David Bianculli and Ken Aulettta. Also, teachers with
interests in media literacy come with a range of different types of
academic training, from degree programs in education, the arts, literature,
history and politics, and journalism and communication. 2
Because of the tendency
for media educators to be self taught, media literacy educators are
iconoclastic, with a wide and idiosyncratic array of critical perspectives
on media, youth and culture. This wide diversity of approaches used
by teachers of media literacy in the United States has led to a number
of schisms among media educators-- most notably between those who view
media literacy as a form of protection for children to help them resist
the lures of commercial culture, and those who view media literacy as
a skill in its own right, often on the grounds that media literacy empowers
young people to make their own interpretations and strengthen their
communication skills (Fehlman, 1995).
As Brown (1991) has noted,
various programs and materials designed to develop media literacy skills
have been created since the early 1970s. However, these programs largely
consisted of the development of print and video resource materials,
with little formal training programs available to educators, particularly
in the United States. In 1993, the Harvard Institute on Media Education
was initiated at Harvard Graduate School of Education. It was the first
of a number of staff development programs that began to emerge in the
United States in the 1990s. 3 In 1993 and 1994, the Harvard experience
provided an opportunity for nearly 200 teachers and academics to "discover"
each other, to identify the motives and priorities each one brought
to the enterprise of involving students in media analysis and production.
At the same time, as education reform efforts at the state level encouraged
the development of new standards, curriculum frameworks and innovative
assessment models, a number of states explicitly called for the inclusion
of skills of media analysis and production. The State of New Mexico,
for example, mandated a course in communication for all high school
students (McCannon, 1995); the State of Masschusetts included media
analysis and communication skills not as a separate subject, but within
language arts, social studies, health, science and the arts. 4
By and large, media literacy
educational programs were often aimed at teachers within a metropolitan
region or school district, initiated by a faculty member at a nearby
university, using methods composed of lectures, discussions, viewing
activities, production activities and time and resources for strategic
planning to help teachers develop new ideas to implement in the classroom.
A survey of teachers who completed the Harvard Institute on Media Education
shows that the majority of teachers who participated in the program
continue to work on an individual level within their own classrooms,
with a large number of them serving as catalysts for action within their
school by assisting their colleagues and sharing ideas. Only a handful
of educators have developed models which promote the learning of media
analysis and production skills widely by many teachers across multiple
grades and subject areas (Hobbs, 1996).
This chapter describes
one example of a district-wide model for helping teachers develop expertise
in media literacy, a model which invites a cohort of educators from
a single district to participate in a coordinated, long-term plan of
study, research, design and and implementation of media literacy curriculum
in grades K -12.
The Billerica Initiative
is an on-going effort by the Billerica, Massachusetts Public Schools
to develop media education training in a comprehensive program aimed
to integrate media literacy concepts into grades K - 12 in a working
class community northwest of Boston. Through staff development, community
outreach, curriculum development and performance assessment, the Billerica
Initiative attempted to introduce the skills of media literacy to 340
teachers and 7,000 students. The most important component of the initiative
was a long-term staff development program consisting of a graduate-level
program of courses which led to a Master's Degree in Media Literacy,
sponsored by Fitchburg State College and the Merrimack Education Center,
a co-operative staff development program which serves 22 school districts
in the communities northwest of Boston, Massachusetts. The program resulted
in the creation of a cadre of media literacy experts within the school
district, a number of on-going cross-curricular programs, and a substantial
amount of media analysis and production activities which are integrated
within the day-to-day lives of students and teachers.
The purpose of this chapter
is to profile a sample of the 26 teachers who participated in the Master's
Degree program within the Billerica Initiatve. By examining the process
by which teachers create their own approaches to curriculum in media
literacy, we aim to identify how teachers' attitudes towards education,
youth, culture and media shape their curriculum choices and interpersonal
behavior in the classroom. By examining the ways they see themselves
in relationship to their students and their peers, this chapter will
seek to identify those factors which predict a teacher's willingness
to take on the task of becoming knowledgeable about media and skilled
in using media literacy pedagogy in the classroom.
This chapter focuses on
the time period between January 1993 and May 1995 when the Master's
Degree program teacher-training was implemented in Billerica. In addition,
we describe the classroom practices of five teachers, making use of
evidence collected from teachers' weekly journals, their lesson plans
and other coursework, observations of classroom practice, and interviews
with teachers, school administrators and community members who participated
in the program. Using profiles of teachers working with students aged
12 to 17, we explore the range of teacher attitudes, behaviors and philosophies
to order to better understand the characteristics of media literacy
as it is practiced in U.S. public schools today. The chapter concludes
with some observations, hypotheses and critical questions about the
application of the district-based model of media literacy education
which was employed in Billerica.
was one of the first sites in the United States to receive 'Channel
One,' a commercially supported current events television program for
teenagers, now in place in more than 12,000 schools, with a reach of
more than 7 million students each day. Schools receive television equipment
for use in classrooms in exchange for broadcasting the program, which
contains ten minutes of teen-oriented news programming and two minutes
of advertising each day. 5 At the introduction of 'Channel One' educators
in Billerica were deluged with public criticism from academics and educational
leaders, including the National Education Association, who charged them
with selling their students to advertisers and wasting valuable minutes
of the school day. Nevertheless, school officials in Billerica believed
that the program offered them the opportunity to improve their students'
understanding of current events, enhance the use of media technology
in the schools, and promote a sense of community through the broadcast
of student-produced news and information programming.
Since l989, when 'Channel
One' was first introduced in Billerica, educators within the district
have become increasingly sensitive to the need to help strengthen students'
ability to analyze and evaluate media messages. In addition, increased
availability of hardware in the classrooms has made it easier for some
teachers to increase their use of video materials as resources for teaching
and created a climate of interest among teachers about strategies for
using video production activities for educational purposes.
When middle school teachers
voted unanimously to receive 'Channel One' in l992, they did so primarily
because they wanted the opportunity to have a television monitor in
every classroom. But some teachers and parents were also strongly concerned
about the perceived vulnerability of middle school students to advertising
and news content, with a number of teachers noting that younger students
often lack the reasoning and critical thinking skills to analyze sophisticated,
slickly produced ads and lack the world knowledge to appreciate the
current events information provided on 'Channel One', which is largely
aimed at high school students.
In Billerica, media literacy
was initially understood by school officials to serve as a form of 'protection'
for students who were about to be exposed to 'Channel One ' each day.
Only gradually did educators and leaders in the school administration
recognize the possibility that media literacy could enrich the curriculum
in grades K - 12 across a range of subject areas.
Before 'Channel One' was
turned on in the district's two middle schools, all teachers attended
a two-hour presentation introducing them to the concept of media literacy,
where teachers practiced analyzing news and advertising and learned
of some simple activities and discussions to engage students' critical
viewing skills. A representative sample of middle-school teachers also
attended a one-day seminar on media literacy, which was designed to
introduce teachers to media analysis skills and to discuss connections
between media literacy and specific middle-school curriculum. The program
was enthusiastically received. Teachers noted that the high level of
engagement and enthusiasm among colleagues was in startling contrast
to the usual ambivalence, skepticism and mild hostility which was often
a part of staff development efforts.
As a result of the success
of this program, in the Spring of l993, thirty teachers (representing
each of the faculty teaching teams in the middle schools) enrolled in
a 30-hour in-service course, Introduction to Media Literacy, with some
teachers enrolling through Fitchburg State College to receive graduate
credit. This course provided a broad overview of the issues involved
in the analysis of print, imagery and electronic media. Teachers regularly
engaged in analysis of a variety of different media, including newspapers,
magazines, TV entertainment and news programming, and episodes of 'Channel
One'. In addition, they wrote critical reviews of existing resource
materials and curricula for media literacy and designed their own lesson
plans for integrating media literacy concepts in their classrooms.
Dr. John Katsoulis, Assistant
Superintendent of Instruction for the Billerica Public Schools, believed
that it would be important to develop a graduate program in order to
attract teachers to develop a long-term commitment to professional development.
Planning for such a program was initiated by Dr. Katsoulis and the author
with the support of the Merrmack Education Center.
With the support of members
of the local access television center, a group of highly motivated teachers
from the middle school created and participated in a media literacy
assembly program which was designed to de-mystify the technology of
television for students. The program was a multimedia performance which
included an original script and score, various pre-produced video segments,
live stage performances and participation from the student audience.
The program assembly made use of a working, mobile TV studio on the
stage of the middle school auditorium, with teachers and community volunteers
staffing all the equipment. The program showed how media messages are
constructed, introduced concepts including target audience; framing,
composition and editing techniques, including special effects; differences
and similarities between commercial, public and local access television;
and the diverse array of production roles in the creation of video.
The event required substantial cooperation among teachers and members
of the local access community and represented an exciting, high-visibility
launch of the media literacy effort for both students and teachers.
It was clear that a production experience served to inspire creative,
collaborative energy on the part of teachers, community leaders and
During the Summer of 1994,
the Dr. Katsoulis approached the Merrimack Education Center in Chelmsford,
a consortium of 22 school districts which provides staff development
for the region's public schools. In coordination with Fitchburg State
College's Department of Continuing Education, the Master in Education
Program in Media Literacy was launched in the Fall 1993. This program
was a field-based Master's Program open to Billerica faculty, consisting
of 12 graduate level courses to be taken over a period of two and a
half years. All 400 plus teachers were introduced to the role of media
literacy in the curriculum and informed about the staff development
program through a one-hour workshop presented by the author and the
Assistant Superintendent, Dr. John Katsoulis. As a result of this effort,
thirty teachers enrolled in the program. Appendix A provides an outline
of the Billerica Initiative, including the schedule of courses taken
by Billerica teachers.
The curriculum for the
Masters' Degree program combined traditional graduate level courses
in media studies, media education and pedagogy with practical staff
development to help teachers increase their competence in applying media
literacy in the classroom. Using the recommendations provided by teacher
education in media literacy conducted in Clwyd, Wales, as a component
of the Centre for Educational Technology, the Masters' Degree program
in Billerica was modeled on the strategies recommended by evaluators
in Wales (reported in Brown, 1991, p. 233):
- provide teachers with
sample exercises and materials apt for immediate classroom use and
for sharing with colleagues;
- hold sessions with
teachers of both primary and secondary levels, to share experiences
and to demonstrate the need for progressive levels of media education;
- use local audio-visual
resources to supplement school resources;
- mount small-scale classroom
research projects so that students can learn by doing and by discovery
rather than learn by lecture;
- develop curriculum
outlines attuned to local needs and structures, to interest supervisors
in expanding media education.
In Billerica, teachers
had the opportunity to engage in practical, collaborative, district-wide
program development. One of the most stimulating components of the program
was the participation of equal number of elementary, middle school and
high school teachers. Although teachers entered with a range of preconceived
attitudes about each other, within a month, there was an on-going theme
in the discussion concerning how much secondary teachers were learning
from the wisdom in evidence from faculty in the lower grades.
Many activities capitalized
on the opportunity to bring teachers from different grade levels and
schools together. The most notable of these activities was the Billerica
Ad Lab, which is a functioning advertising agency staffed by teachers
and high school students, who received independent study credit for
their participation. In the 1993-94 school year, participants took on
the topic of anti-smoking as part of the Massachusetts State Department
of Public Health's education effort. The team of high school students
and teachers designed an series of activities for all teachers and students
in the district, including a descriptive list of curriculum resources
to engage students of all ages in critical analysis of tobacco advertising,
plus a series of contests to create a slogan, radio and video public
service announcements, newspaper and magazine ads, posters, T-shirts
and a billboard. The Ad Lab is an excellent example of an authentic
learning experience, using the combined resources of students and teachers,
in a meaningful community-based activity which develops a wide range
of communication, creative, teamwork and problem-solving skills.
Throughout 1994 and 1995,
the Education Department of State of Massachusetts was in the process
of developing new curriculum frameworks fo public education. Dr. Damian
Curtiss, Director of the Billerica's Language Arts Program, served as
a member of the committee which developed the Language Arts frameworks.
His leadership on this committee was instrumental in helping colleagues
from across the state appreciate that media messages are also "texts,"
and that to be literate in an information age, students need to have
the skills to access, analyze, evaluate and communicate flexibly with
awide variety of different forms, including messages which students
receive from television, film, newspapers, magazines and radio. As a
result of more than three years of effort, the State of Massachusetts
has created new curriculum frameworks where media literacy skills are
included-- not as a separate domain-- but as an integral part of language
arts, social studies, health education, the arts and science.
In May of 1995, 26 Billerica
teachers graduated from the Master's Degree Program in Media Literacy.
In the next phase of the program, begun in January 1996, teachers have
developed their own courses to teach media literacy skills to their
colleagues in the district and in the surrounding communities.
Profile of Five Teachers:
The data reported below
were collected as part of the teachers' coursework, required for completion
of the Master's Degree in Media Literacy. Teachers had the option of
interviewing and observing a colleague as one of two possible course
assignments. In one course, teachers studied the profiles and classroom
descriptions developed in the original UK Models of Media Education
Project (Hart and Benson, 1993). To participate in this project, teachers
had to volunteer to be observed and find a partner who could schedule
time to watch one or two classroom lessons and conduct a detailed interview.
A total of 12 teachers chose to engage in this project, and in this
paper we report only the profiles of those who work with students age
11 to 16, excluding from the sample those teachers working at other
grade levels, or those whose work is in subject areas other than language
arts or social studies. These profiles make it possible for the reader
to gain a specific set of mental pictures about the practice of media
literacy education at a specific moment in time. Teachers' articulation
of their rationale are distilled from a 40-minute interview based on
the original UK Models of Media Education Project (Hart and Benson,
1993). The accounts of practice were written as descriptive observations
of one or two classroom periods by those whose primary responsibilities
are for students both in the middle-school grades (ages 11- 14) and
the first two years of high school (ages 14 - 16).
Teachers candidly discussed
with the author the experience of having a colleague make an observation,
since in Billerica, classroom observations are exclusively reserved
for purposes of evaluation and educators in Billerica had relatively
little exposure to educational research on site. Teachers noted that
this tradition created an expectancy that caused some tension on both
the part of the observer and the part of the teacher being observed.
While teachers agreed about the importance of capturing authentic classroom
experience, the novelty of the experience created at least two distinct
methodological effects which could be labeled the "safe" lesson and
the "teacher focus."
First, teachers being observed
chose to engage in practices they considered "safe," activities they
had successfully implemented previously, even though much of the on-going
dialogue with teachers in the Master's Degree program proved that teachers
were increasingly more comfortable developing more spontaneous approaches
to media study based on the "teachable moment." 6 This led to the result
of the classroom observations being a more comfortable experience for
the teachers who were observed, but in some instances, also created
a more artificial learning experience for students, who in a few cases
had been exposed to the same lesson earlier in the school year.
The second methodological
effect which is evident from reviewing the teachers' classroom observations
is a distinct focus on the teacher's behavior, with only a small minority
of the reports going into any significant details about student behavior.
Teachers had studied the reports of practice from the UK Models project,
where close observation of student behavior is emphasized, but still
wrote observations that focused on teacher behavior. One reason why
this occurred is a direct result of the staff development experience.
Twenty six teachers in the Billerica school system spent six hours a
week after school in a graduate school learning experience, for the
better part of three years, including summers. Participants knew each
other well as time passed, gained a lot of appreciation for the personalities,
passions, and characteristic modes of inquiry of each individual in
the group. Becuase of scheduling practices, only on rare occasions did
teachers get to observe each other in the day-to-day practice of teaching.
This led to a fair amount of curiosity all around, and as can be expected,
when it was time to make a formal written observation of classroom practice,
the natural tendency of many teachers was to focus not on student behavior,
but on the teaching technique of the individual who was most familiar
Examining TV Families:
Joan Perry teaches in the
Marshall Middle School, and she teaches both language arts and social
studies, possessing an undergraduate degree in education and more than
twenty years of experience in the classroom. Her motivation to teach
media literacy comes primarily from her interest in helping students
make connections between the humanities and social studies, her interests
in the representation of gender, race, class, and ethnicity in the mass
media, and her concern that students become engaged in the learning
process and personally responsible for their own education. Joan commented
on the tension at work in wanting to include more media literacy activities
but feeling tied down by the demand to "cover content," in terms of
the specific content she is responsible for addressing in her social
studies class. For example, she tries to include media literacy concepts
even when she is teaching about the Renaissance, as she invites students
to critically examine the images and the points of view which are emphasized
and invisible in the textbook.
Her lesson on TV families
was taught for to 7th graders for two 40-minute periods of a span on
two days. The general approach for the lesson involved brainstorming
of key ideas about being a critical viewer, with some media research
being done by the students during class time and at home, and some discussion
about the perceived realism of different prime-time situation comedies.
Joan identified three broad goals for the learning experience:
- students should gain
the experience of watching television actively and to appreciate that
the media's representation of families was constructed;
- students should gain
skills of critical decision-making based on evidence from a range
- students should gain
an appreciation and respect for their own (and others') opinions and
Prior to the first session,
the students were given a sheet which outlined a comprehensive "pre-viewing
assignment" to be completed the night before the first class presentation.
The assignment required students to make a list of films or TV shows
that portrayed families. The students then had to evaluate each of these
families on the basis of their being 'realistic' or 'unrealistic' and
they had to provide specific evidence to support their choices.
The teacher began the session
by asking students to define 'media' and the idea of being a 'critical
viewer' in their own words. They brainstormed a list of different types
of media and agreed that all media are messages and that many messages
included both print and visual components. Students in this classroom
quickly identified that 'critical' didn't necessarily have a negative
connotation, but that being critical had more to do with understanding
the message rather than assigning labels like 'good' and 'bad.' In a
carefully guided discussion, the teacher led the students through a
process of generating a set of elements that 'critical viewers' use
to make their judgments about various mass media. The list that was
generated including the following concepts: realism, entertainment value,
age appropriateness, credibility, and quality of construction.
To further the concept
of being a critical viewer, the teacher asked the students to make use
of their previewing assignment to examine those programs that were identified
as 'realistic.' The development of this list was vigorous and was punctuated
by the spontaneous singing and humming of theme songs associated with
the TV shows the kids were suggesting. The session ended with a list
of programs that students identified as 'realistic' for the 1990s. These
programs included Family Matters, The Simpsons, Murphy Brown, Fresh
Prince of BelAir, Step by Step, Family Ties and Full House.
On the second day, the
session began by intensifying the analysis of the family show listings.
The teacher led the students through a step-by-step process of analyzing
the shows with a greater attention to specific details outlined on a
'Viewing Analysis' sheet. This list of questions invited students to
consider the characteristics of how family relationships were represented,
and included the following categories: name of show, age of children,
age of parents, number of people in the family, number of pets, describe
the problem, who caused the problem, describe the solution, who resolved
the solution. After discussing some of these questions in terms of specific
shows, students concluded that many of the family problems presented
in the programs they had watched earlier in the week could not, in fact,
be solved satisfactorily in the 30-minute air time for the show.
In the classroom, one student
was adamant about the fact that many of the problems and relationships
depicted on these shows are realistic and that the situations could
really happen. For example, after the teacher showed students a short
clip from The Simpsons, one student recognized that Homer Simpson's
beer drinking may reflect some fathers. In Full House, the students
also felt that the ability of the characters to help each other solve
their problems with sensitivity and caring was also an accurate portrayal
of many families.
Students concluded by discussing
the following question: "Describe the kind of relationship you see portrayed
between one character and another. Is the relationship loving, supportive,
hateful, full of put-downs, etc.?" The teacher noted that the children
were actively involved in debating the perceived realism of different
programs and they discovered that different students make different
judgements about realism, depending on their own particular experiences
and backgrounds. The idea that realism is an interpretive judgement,
not an intrinsic characteristic of a message, did come through in the
lesson, according to both the teacher and the observer.
News: Judith Giroux
Judith Giroux is a journalism
teacher at Memorial High School, and she teaches different levels of
journalism to mixed age groups of students aged 14 - 18. Judy is an
experienced journalism educator who has considerable experience in integrating
both media analysis and media production within her courses. She is
also comfortable adapting the activities to students with a wide range
of abilities, since she has both younger and older students together
in her classes.
Judith identifies a range
of goals in her own approach to integrating media literacy within journalism
education. She identifies the following as central concepts she expects
students to apply when reading or viewing news:
- to realize that all messages
are constructions that are created for a specific purpose and effect
that is determined by the news organization;
- to learn that messages
represent the social realities of the times and places far removed
from the student's own world;
- to understand that a
skillful viewer should examine many different stylistic features of
a medium and should pay careful attention to the context in which
the message occurs;
- to recognize that each
form of communication has unique characteristics-- television news
differs in many ways from print news;
- to learn to recognize
the concept of "audience" when using news media.
On the day of the observation,
Judith handed out a survey form which was to be completed at home. The
survey asked questions about the news consumption patterns of various
family members. Judith later used the surveys as a framework for discussion
and analysis about family patterns of news media usage. This survey
included questions like: * What news programs are watched at home? Who
watches? How were programs selected? Is a newspaper part of home life?
How frequently does the newspaper arrive? If so, who reads it? Do any
family members read a newsmagazine? If so, why was that particular one
selected? Which medium do you use to get information about current events?
After introducing that
assignment, Judith and her students examined an episode of CBS Evening
News which had aired two days earlier. The class was divided up into
groups of six or seven. Each student in the group had to watch the broadcast
with a specific target task in mind. For those analyzing news, one student
was in charge of looking at the relationship between the visual images
and the verbal message to see which stories had the a close connection
between image and sound and which stories had images used to 'wallpaper'
over a story where the images were essentially decorative. Another student's
task was to identify the various points of view which were characterized
in the segment elements; another examined the time elapsed for each
story; another identified the placement within the program.
For those students who
were analyzing the advertising within the news program, one student
had the task of logging all ads. Another had to identify the target
audience for each ad. Another team of students examined the techniques
of persuasion used in each ad. Students watched the broadcast in its
entirety, and reviewed specific segments in order to complete their
tasks. In the following class, small groups worked to determine patterns
and relationships between the data collected by students. Students discussed
the news organization's decisions about story importance; they identified
various target audiences, including the elderly, affluent males, and
busy professionals. They discussed what information was missing from
the nightly news and made a list of where a viewer could go to get more
information about various issues.
The teacher-observer for
this classroom session noted how well this specific activity allowed
for differences in cognitive abilities, writing ability, and generally
made use of the diverse age grouping of the class. Some students were
assigned the more concrete tasks, like counting and naming, while others
were assigned tasks which involved more complex skills of analysis.
Both teacher and observer recognized that this activity helped to create
interest in news among students, and that it served to orient students
to the idea of an 'author' in the newsmaking process, which is not always
a transparent concept for adolescents.
Representation: Don Staveley
Don Staveley is a Billerica
High School history teacher who is considered by many to be in a leadership
role in the high school community. Don has initiated a number of projects
which have made use of video technology to increase student and faculty
communication at the high school. One project he developed focused on
the school's "philosophy," its set of conceptual values which were identified
as essential for a successful high school experience. Using a "man-in-the-street"
camera, Don interviewed a wide range of high school students and teachers
about their perceptions of the concepts and created a series of seven
lively, fast-paced, edited videotapes which provided a synopsis of student
and faculty opinions about concepts such as responsibility, integrity,
trust and commitment. These tapes were riveting to students and faculty
alike. They were frank, free-wheeling, and controversial. They served
to stimulate conversation within classrooms, and generally promoted
a school-wide awareness of the importance of having consensus about
the values of being a student at Billerica Memorial High School.
Don's motivation to integrate
media literacy within the context of his history courses comes from
the following basic aims:
- to strengthen students'
skills of critical viewing and interaction with al media forms;
- to take academic knowledge
and apply it to real-world experiences;
- to strengthen students'
experience in collaboration with others;
- to strengthen students'
writing skills using a 'process writing' approach;
- to use history to examine
cultural realities and to use varied accounts of history to appreciate
current constructions of 'reality' or 'news.'
Two observers watcheded
Don implement two different projects with two different classes of 9th
and 10th grade high school students. In one activity, students had been
studying the period 1700 - 1800 for the past three months. The lesson
observed was the introduction of the final project, which would invite
students, in groups of three, to create a final report on the time period
using one of the following media formats: newspaper, talk show, tabloid,
radio talk show, newscast, skit, multi-media presentation, or comic
book. Students would have two weeks to complete the project.
At the beginning of the
session, Don introduced the lesson by handing out an assignment sheet
with the rationale, the parameters of the project, and other details.
As an example, Don invited students to consider what a mock newspaper
from the French revolution would look like. Here is a sample of conversation:
Teacher: If the
date was 1794, the Reign of Terror, what would the paper look like?
Student: Blood, dead people, guillotines.
Teacher: The obituaries would be three pages long.
Student: It would be censored. No way would there be freedom of speech.
Teacher: What would the headlines be?
Student: 30,000 killed.
Teacher: What about the advertising?
Student: Guillotine sharpening.
Student: Join the Army.
Since Don had used this
activity before (with different students and a different historical
time period), he showed students samples of student-produced projects.
There was a lot of enthusiasm in the room. Students were anxious to
form groups, and some students chose to work alone. As the initial planning
work began, Don made the following remarks: "Demonstrate your understanding
of history in these projects. Imagination must be based on history.
Decide on your format first. Write a script if you're doing to do a
talk show. If you're writing a comic book, outline the story and develop
one chapter well. For a gazette: choose the date and research."
For another class, and
in a different assignment, Don wanted students to explore the representation
of historic figures in popular mass media as compared with other historical
accounts. He created an assignment which invited teams of students to
"adopt a hero." They chose among the following historical figures: Thomas
More, Michaelangelo, Columbus or Martin Luther, and then watch one of
the following films: A Man for All Seasons, The Agony and the Ecstasy,
1492 or Luther. Don created an assignment sheet which provides a brief
rationale outlining the purpose of the project, and a list of elements
for the team to research. They must describe the specific European context
at the historical period in question, describe the visual setting employed
in the film, compare and contrast the character as represented in the
film to the two other accounts, explain how the filmmaker used techniques
to show that the 'hero' really was a hero, and examine the value of
the film as a source of historical information.
During the observation,
students had already seen the films, and were working in the library
to collect information about their "heroes." Students worked in small
teams, and Don visited each group during the class period and led them
towards specific kinds of reference material and monitored the groups
to ensure that each group stayed on task.
In evaluating this activity
after its completion, Don believed that both A Man for All Seasons and
Luther were probably beyond the ability of most of the students to comprehend.
Don believed that he needed to model specific elements of the activity
and develop a specific planned sequence of practice activities before
"throwing students into the soup," since only about one-half of his
students were able to accomplish this assignment as effectively as Don
had hoped. Both Don and the classroom observer recognized that Don's
ability to innovate hed to an enormously creative classroom environment,
which students responded to well. His comfort with developing curriculum
by trying new ideas and revising activities was evident in his own self-reflective
stance and careful observation of the students' behavior. By integrating
media literacy concepts into the existing curriculum, Don managed to
blend the necessary focus on historical content and method with the
development of critical analysis and creative communication skills.
Word Processing Technology
and Media Violence: Nick Ines
Nick Ines is a former middle-school
English teacher who has developed expertise in computer literacy and
is now is responsible for the computer classes which are a part of the
middle-school curriculum. He has twenty years of experience as a teacher
and is very comfortable with technology. Nick is also is known for his
ability to manage, organize and keep a group of colleagues focused on
the task at hand. This was a valuable skill, since many teachers had
very little sustained experience in task-oriented working groups. As
a result, for the Masters' Degree coursework, any working group that
included Nick Ines was sure to have a sophisticated technological application
in computers, video or print, and the level of teamwork and coordination
he helped foster created strikingly original, creative and well-organized
Nick sees connections between
media literacy education and technology education. His general goals
for integrating media literacy concepts within his "skills-oriented"
computer literacy class are embodied in this statement: "If students
can leave my program understanding that all media, including the software
that they use, are constructions, that media production is motivated
by special interest and that media can affect them without their conscious
knowledge, than I have successfully conveyed some important media concepts."
In one lesson, Nick introduced
media literacy concepts by asking his students to demonstrate their
ability to use word-processing and publishing software by asking students
to prepare a mock-up of the front page of a newspaper. The front page
would contain the various elements common to most newspapers: banners,
headline, multi-column articles, graphics and images.
In a previous class, Nick
had asked students to create a news story suitable for the publication.
When students listed the types of stories they had created, the categories
included human interest, sports, politics, accidents, baby stories,
alien encounters, stories about violence and advertisements. Students
seemed surprised when Nick pointed out the similarities and differences
between their topics and the contents of a newspaper. Nick commented
outside of class on his dismay to find that students' general familiarity
with newspapers was low and that their major contact with newspapers
was mainly through the sports pages.
Students did recognize
their own application of the concepts of "Who, what where when, why
and how" and then Nick led students into a discussion focused not simply
on what was told, but also what or whose story was not told. The teacher
observed noted, "I could tell by the responses of students and their
level of animation that they were coming in contact with an area that
they had never encountered."
On the following day, Nick
explored the content contained in the articles students had written,
many of which contained violence, either through exposition or through
graphics. He asked the students whether the violence was characteristic
or reflective of the culture they live in or whether their selection
of violent material originated in the desire to appeal to audience interest
in order to sell newspapers. Nick used discussion with the whole class
to help students recognize that their choice of content originated from
a number of different news and 'reality TV' programs featuring police,
victims and criminals rather than from their own life experience or
experience with print media.
Nick invited students to
analyze why violence was so popular. Students created a list:
- it was easier to write
- the themes were familiar
- violence is part of life
- violence is contained
in a large part of the information we receive from mass media
Nick concluded the class
session by commenting on how, due to media messages, our society may
be reaching a level of 'comfort violence,' which makes the presence
of violence invisible, ordinary and normal-- and that to tolerate violence
in this manner is to create a culture where everyone is at risk. Afterward,
Nick recognized that he was "standing on his soap box in front of the
kids," by concluding with a little speech about the evils of violence,
but he feels passionately that his students need to know that he finds
the culture of violence to be reprehensible. He is careful not to blame
his students for their own interest in violence, but he is burdened
with a concern that his students are "tuned in to the cultural priorities
of the media, and turned off by the priorities and values of the school."
Beyond the Book and
the Movie: Vincent DeFeo
Vincent DeFeo is a high
school English teacher at Memorial High School in Billerica, and has
an extensive, lifelong interest in film and mass media. He graduated
from Emerson College, the first college in the nation devoted exclusively
to the study of communication and has been teaching for almost twenty
years. He served as the resident film expert for the Masters' Degree
program, and was a valuable resource in helping teachers to identify
appropriate films which could enrich specific literary works, themes,
or historical periods.
His motivation to teach
media literacy is focused on helping develop students' imagination and
analysis skills in the context of understanding literature and film.
He identifies his aims:
- to help students visualize
both real and figurative images as derived from literary sources;
- to show students how
one's personal experience is part of the process of connecting to
a written literary 'story';
- to apply key conventions
of storytelling to the genres of literature and film;
- to analyze the construction
of the film image;
- to strengthen students'
interpretation and imagination in the reading process
In this class of 9th graders,
Vincent has been reading A Separate Peace. with the students. Working
on Chapter 3, Vincent begins the class period with a "quickie quiz,"
a series of questions for students to answer in writing. These questions
were concerned with the characters in the novel, and the questions encouraged
students to reflect on the connections between the story and their personal
experiences. After students finished writing, Vincent invited students
to respond to the questions orally. Few responded. He read a selected
passage from the novel which illustrated a particular relationship between
two characters and asked the class if anyone had experienced a similar
situation. Few responded.
Vincent then showed a segment
of the film, A Separate Peace. He selected an image of a tree which
was central to the narrative theme. The students readily offered their
analysis of how the director used camera angles and other techniques
to convey the story's real and figurative meaning. The "tree" image
was shot to create the feeling of a loss of balance through camera movement.
When asked if anyone could recall a similar situation with a tree, several
students said they had and two personal stories from students aided
the quality of the discussion. Discussion of this scene and the development
of the characters at this point in the film suggested that students
were connecting the story to their own experience.
When Vincent asked students
to compare and contrast the literary work to the film, students were
clearly more uncomfortable with the visual scene of the boys diving
beyond the river bank, into the water, as compared with their emotional
disengagement to the same scene in the novel. According to the teacher-observer,
the "literary version of the story elicited less spontaneous and emotional
responses than the film." Students seemed unwilling or unable to reflect
on the figurative elements of the novel and the film. One key scene
from the film seemed less accessible to students, and Vincent noted
that this scene is dependent on language, not images, to appreciate
Vincent commented on his
own observations about students' skills in analyzing literary works
and filmic works. His concern after this class: "Students' increasing
reliance on content that is 'real' and 'visual' works to the detriment
of their ability to deal with content that is figurative, not literal,
and imaginative." Vincent is delighted to be able to integrate his interest
in film and media with his work as a high school English teacher. For
him, media literacy is "like coming home," since it was what drew him
into the enterprise of English teaching in the first place. Even though
the high school English teachers appreciate this method of analyzing
film and literary works, they feel that such work is often a luxury,
since students must read 8 or more books in a semester. While Vin and
colleagues agree with the principle that students need time to study
and analyze specific works rather than race through material in order
to "cover" it, the English program is organized around the reading of
specific books, and Vincent and his colleagues are not sure how to go
about the process of revising this approach to "make room" for media
literacy activities in a literature class.
Commentary and Analysis
Three principal lessons
emerge from the research process which formed part of the experience
of developing a long-term media literacy program in Billerica, Massachusetts.
Although we recognize that the most common way for teachers to enter
the field of media literacy is through their own self-motivation, we
observed that teachers in Billerica benefited greatly from regular access
to each other and that teachers got increased power when they collaborated
in staff teams. High school teachers, for example, were often quite
pleased, startled and intrigued to learn of the work of teachers at
the elementary level, and through teamwork and shared opportunities
to engage with their colleagues, they learned much about the practices
of learning and teaching at all levels. While some teachers often carried
out projects independently or (occasionally) refused to enter into a
collaborative team, there was much genuine enthusiasm for team projects,
and a fair amount of energy with the anticipation of working with "this
person" or "that person" within the group. Some classroom conversations
with Masters' Degree teachers was devoted to reflections on teachers'
sense of inadequacy about how to help students manage group task work
when they themselves found it so laborious, challenging and emotionally
intense. Several teachers reflected on the fact that they did not have
group tasks as a part of their own early education. Teachers struggled
with the challenges implicit in collaborative activity, since teachers
generally have a high degree of perceived autonomy within the classroom,
which serves as the 'perk' to compensate for low pay and inferior working
Reflecting on the powerful
ways in which teachers' sense of responsibility to a team operates on
an individual's understanding of the connections across subject areas,
Ted Sizer notes that "the coherence of the [educational] program presented
for the students, however, is the sum of the team's areas of expertise--
the musician, the writer, the literary critic, the painter and the actor
collectively addressing the Arts, not one by one but each supporting
the team's mastery of the entire field and each in her own specialty
holding the team to a demanding standard" (Sizer, 1992, p. 179). While
teachers may hesitate about their responsibility for the work of other
colleagues, when teachers are encouraged to spend time together, to
share pleasurable experiences and collaborate, they discovered the delight,
pleasure and authentic personal growth that comes from opening up the
door to your own classroom and looking around at what's going on next
Teachers observed that
projects that involved collaboration did receive more attention and
support from school administrators than projects developed by teachers
individually. However, it also appeared that as the team of media literacy
teachers grew stronger within the school community, a number of factors
served to diminish or reduce their influence. For example, during the
three years in which 26 teachers received intensive media literacy training,
none of the administrative staff including principals, department heads
and school curriculum specialists received any training whatsoever.
Only one department head was a regular observer in the course of three
years of weekly meetings. As a result, teachers often found little support
and occasionally great hostility to their efforts. Many teachers complained
that while they had the "official" support of the superintendent, their
direct supervisors would dismiss or trivialize media literacy, withhold
the small resources they would request, or otherwise put roadblocks
in their efforts to develop new activities and programs for students.
The following questions
remain: what kinds of attitudes encourage teachers to collaborate? What
forces discourage such collaboration? What role does prior experience
play in teachers' comfort in working with a partner or small team? What
sorts of hands-on group task work best serves to develop teachers' skills
in managing student group task work? How can media literacy activities
serve to promote the growth of teachers' skills in working collaboratively?
Another phenomenon identified
through interviews with teachers in the Billerica Initiative is that
teachers who chose to continue their professional development in media
literacy perceived that the processes or skills involved in media analysis
and production as directly relevant to the subjects and skills that
they already teach. The cases presented in this chapter show how teachers
with various content responsibilities manage to integrate media literacy
concepts and activities in their teaching. For a conversation about
media violence in the context of a word-processing and desktop publishing
skills development course for middle-school students to happen, a teacher
needs to have a high level of comfort with trying new ideas, a sense
of his or her own perspective, values and ideology, and an appreciation
for how students will manage these ideas when they get exposed to them.
Several teachers voiced
concerns about the difficulty of building connections between media
literacy and various subject areas. Teachers asked themselves whether
media literacy, as a set of concepts and practices, should be integrated
into every class where literacy skills are called upon, or should media
literacy have the legitimacy to stand by itself, as a set of knowledge
and skills which deserves attention independent of its connection to
literature, history, technology education or the arts. The tension around
this issue reflects Michael Apple's (1990) observations about the relationship
between ideology and curriculum, since Billerica teachers noted that,
as a domain, 'mass media' is considered far too trivial, secondary and
minor in relation to traditional subject areas, hence integrating media
literacy within the curriculum is a survival strategy, since "schools
preserve and distribute what is perceived to be 'legitimate knowledge.'
Schools confer cultural legitimacy on the knowledge of specific groups"
(Apple, 1990, p. 63-64). It seems unlikely that schools as cultural
institutions will be willing to recognize the legitimacy of knowing
about and analyzing mass media as long as high ranking education officials
persist on blaming 'evil media' for lower reading scores or demonizing
media and promoting the image of the helpless innocent, manipulated
by capitalistic media barons.
Billerica educators received
an enormous amount of negative pressure when they chose to accept Whittle's
'Channel One' as a classroom resource, even when in doing so, educators
recognized its potential as a tool to create opportunities to strengthen
students' skills of critical analysis. The established paradigm among
educational elites-- that television is inadequate, dangerous, inferior
-- means that media literacy educators cannot, at present, make claims
that appear to shift or challenge the current distribution of 'legitimate
Most of the teachers who
make use of media literacy concepts in their curriculum describe their
own high levels of concern about their students' relationships with
media culture. Teachers who do not perceive media literacy's connection
to their curriculum, who believed that media study was displacing the
study of more important subjects, or who are not personally worried
about children and the influence of media were more likely to use media
as a tool for accessing information, documenting student performance
on traditional tasks, and unlikely to continue professional development
in media literacy.
Among the teachers participating
in the staff development program, almost 40% identify themselves as
non-traditional learners. We hypothesize that since media literacy acknowledges
the importance of visual and auditory modes of expression and communication,
teachers with these skill sets find particular satisfaction and personal
growth. A review of the background of participating teachers, plus a
number of interview comments show that teachers enrolled in the Billerica
Initiative were highly sensitive to the various ways in which people
learn new ideas. This topic was particularly evident in activities which
required collaboration between teachers, and many teachers commented
that observing how their colleagues learned in different ways made them
more sensitive to the learning styles of the students in their classrooms.
The opportunity to meet
regularly for a sustained period of time with a group of teaching colleagues
to reflect deeply on issues related to youth, media culture, pedagogy,
and literacy for the information age is a rare and precious experience,
by no means a normal part of the staff development experience for most
American teachers. The Billerica Initiative was made possible by a shared
vision of literacy, embraced and respected by all levels of school administrators
and not imposed upon teachers, but selected by teachers as a voluntary
opportunity for renewal and professional growth. As a model for staff
development, its strengths consist of its sensitivity to the complex
territory of media analysis and production, in relation to the diverse
symbol systems of language, music, and images, in the diverse contexts
of mass media forms as they exist in the culture at the end of the 20th
century. The Billerica Initiative created a "community of learners,"
devoted to the exploration of all things media, sensitive to point of
view, representation, context, culture and economics.
The Billerica Initiative
required a major, long-term commitment by a team of educators, not an
easy task in the face of quick-fix, short-term, emergency planning which
is all too common in public education. The Billerica Initiative put
responsibility for making changes in educational practice into the laps
of the leading teachers in the school district, without freeing them
up from any of their existing duties and responsibilities, creating
an (at times) impossible situation for teachers as they were forced
to choose between doing the work required of them as teachers and doing
the work required of them as students, with not enough connection between
the two tasks and not enough hours in the day to do both well.
Rebecca Hawthorne points
out that English teachers have particular challenges as they try to
integrate all that is expected from them into a compelling set of curricular
choices: "The scope of English heightens the individuality of curricular
patterns...Teachers are left to weave the various components into a
coherent pattern for themselves and their students" (Hawthorne, 1992,
p. 116). When individuality is placed at a premium, collaborative work
between teachers and students is compromised. In the end, it may be
that the privelege of teacher autonomy and individuality plus the treadmill
of five preparations a day serves to make collaborative work between
U.S. teachers nearly impossible and limits their opportunities to initiate,
implement and sustain educational activities that bridge across classrooms.
Teachers' choices about
what to do in the classroom are motivated by their own underlying philosophies
about the subject area, the processes of learning, and their own assessment
of their own and their students' skills and talents. For many teachers,
the dominant application of media literacy is in textual analysis, not
creative production. The instructional technique of 'textual reading'
is a familiar and comfortable process for most teachers. Few teachers
in the U.S. have the access to production technology or the flexibility
in their curriculum to involve students in media production, and many
are sensitive to the historical contexts in which media production has
occurred in schools. They implicitly recognize that they work in a culture
where media production activities have been "variously exploited to
motivate alienated under-achievers, to extend self expression and to
develop individual creativity as ends in themselves" (Grahame, 1990,
p. 148). Even when teachers have the skills to implement a media production
activity, large class sizes and the 45-minute period limits teachers'
ability to provide students with effective and meaningful hands-on experience
in creating, designing and producing media projects.
Media literacy will probably
continue to grow as a result of the individual efforts of teachers as
they discover the resource materials, professional groups, and networks
of educators with shared interests, and emerging scholarly literature.
Work within individual classrooms will always be at the heart of media
literacy pedagogy. But if media literacy is to emerge as a new vision
of literacy for the information age, then a high degree of coordination
will be required from among a wide range of shareholders: the scholarly
community, educators in K - 12 environments, school administrators and
educational leaders, parents, the technology, publishing and media production
industries, and the standardized testing industry. Given the decentralized
and politicized nature of American schools, it is unlikely that such
coordination will receive the national or even meaningful state-level
support it needs, and more likely that media literacy initiatives will
develop as a result of innovation and experimentation in the diverse
"labs" of individual districts, schools and classrooms.
COMPREHENSIVE MEDIA EDUCATION
K - 12
The Billerica Initiative
Billerica Public Schools
Media education is defined
as the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and communicate messages
in a variety of forms. Educators are coming to recognize that, in a
world saturated with media messages, it is important for students to
be able to access, critically examine and communicate using print, images,
video and other forms of expression. In addition, it is no longer adequate
to pretend that the information received from television is peripheral
to a student's life -- mass-mediated messages are now central to our
political system, our understanding of global issues, and the ways in
which we perceive ourselves in relation to others. In part because of
its ubiquity and pervasiveness, teaching about the media can be relevant
to a number of curricular areas, including language arts, social studies,
health, vocational education, journalism, science and technology, and
The Billerica Initiative
is the first district-level effort nationwide to implement comprehensive
media literacy education throughout grades K - 12, fully integrated
within existing subject areas. Because of this commitment, it has gained
the attention of the academic community, educational publishers, video
manufacturers and others who recognize that teacher education must be
at the center of any real change in education.
Components of the Initiative
Scope and Sequence of Courses
for the EdM
- IN-SERVICE TEACHER EDUCATION.
This is a multi-layered approach to give teachers knowledge and skills
for two purposes: a) to gain skills in integrating key concepts of
media literacy into existing language arts, social studies, art and
science curricula; and b) to help teachers use and analyze communication
technology tools, including computers and video production activities
as part of the classroom curriculum.
The Master's Degree
in Media Literacy is the first such degree program in the nation,
and will serve as a model for other districts seeking to integrate
comprehensive media literacy into the K-12 curriculum through in-service
training. The program, consisting of 12 graduate credit courses
in collaboration with the Merrimack Education Center and Fitchburg
State College, will enable teachers from a variety of subject areas
and grade levels to "grow their own" curricular materials and tailor
media literacy efforts to each unique site. Teachers who complete
this program will be the trainers for continued professional development
efforts at other sites regionally and nationwide.
and outreach efforts make it possible for a school district to nurture
a community of experienced and knowledgeable educators responsive
to the goals of media education, and communicate the purposes of
media literacy education effectively to parents and community members.
- ASSESSMENT OF STUDENT
LEARNING. This is a plan for designing a comprehensive assessment
methodology, with specific benchmarks of the performance expectations
for students. The research plan for l993-94 includes:
A. Ethnographic reports
of classroom practice. Researchers will observe student and teacher
behavior in the naturalistic context of the classroom, focusing
on those behaviors and skills which teachers use which reflect the
key concepts of media literacy education.
B. Interviews and writing
from students. Researchers will identify the most significant benchmarks
which indicate competence in the skills of media literacy and examine
how students of different ages perform at different points during
the school year.
C. Teacher observations,
interviews and journals. Researchers will identify those attitudes,
behaviors, values and goals which characterize teachers who are
most likely to experience success in integrating media literacy
into existing curriculum.
- OUTREACH TO THE COMMUNITY.
This component of the program aims to provide information to educators
regionally and across the nation about the design and implementation
of the Billerica Initiative.
A. The Ad Lab. This
program involves students and teachers in an authentic learning
experience of working in an advertising agency and performing all
aspects of the design and implementation of a ad campaign. In the
1993-94 school year, the Ad Lab has selected anti-smoking awareness
as the theme for the ad campaign. More than 900 elementary students
were involved in the creation of the campaign slogan and students
will create newspaper and magazine ads, billboards, T-shirts, bumper
stickers, posters, radio ads and video public service announcements
which will be disseminated throughout the community.
B. The Billerica Minuteman:
Media Watch Column For more than a year, Billerica educator Bill
Walsh has been writing a weekly column on media literacy, designed
to introduce parents and community members to the process of critically
analyzing and reflecting on media culture. These columns have been
downloaded on national media literacy databases to on-line audiences
and serve as an model of how to bring media literacy into the community
in a high-impact, low cost manner.
C. Videotape: Tuning
in to Media. This videotape, produced by Dr. Renee Hobbs, showcases
several Billerica teachers to illustrate what media literacy looks
like in actual classrooms. The program features interviews with
young people and teachers as they include the mass media as study
objects in social studies, language arts and the visual and performing
D. Satellite Teleconferencing:
Media Literacy in Action. A one-hour interactive teacher education
teleconference featuring Billerica educators was sponsored by MCET
on January 19, 1994, linking together teachers from across the state
of Massachusetts with educators nationwide to discuss and analyze
media literacy activities in the context of language arts and social
- TECHNOLOGY IN THE SCHOOLS.
In 1994, the community passed a multimillion dollar bond to raise
monies to support technology in the schools. Computer and video production
technology capabilities have been enhanced in each school in the district,
making it possible for teachers to include hands-on production exercises
beginning in kindergarten.
In order to complete the
field-based Masters' Degree in Media Literacy, teachers must take the
following twelve courses:
- Introduction to Media
This course provides
a basic overview of the key concepts in media education, focusing
on strengthening skills of media analysis through an examination
of print and broadcast news and advertising and examining how media
literacy concepts and activities connect to subject areas including
language arts and social studies. Teachers make their own video
in a collaborative project to experiment with the creative process.
- Analysis of News and
This course provides
a framework for advanced analysis of news and information products
in a variety of media, including print, video, image-based multimedia
and other forms. This course examines the ways in which news and
information products are created, disseminated and consumed, and
provides a set of evaluative strategies to think critically about
news and information. In addition, this course will explore how
journalism and video production activities can be strengthened with
the infusion of media literacy concepts.
- Analysis of Advertising
and Media Economics
This course provides
opportunities for advanced analysis of advertising and the economic
structure of mass media industries, including book publishing, billboards,
magazines, information services, newspapers, broadcasting and cable
television. The course will explore how media literacy concepts
can enrich the study of language arts, social studies, science and
math, and the visual and performing arts. Teachers design their
own ad campaign using print, audio, visual and video tools.
- Media Literacy and Arts
This course provides
opportunities for advanced analysis of the aesthetic issues concerning
the analysis and production of messages in a variety of forms, including
graphic design, photography, video production, multimedia and other
forms. The course will explore how teachers can make links between
the products of high culture and the products of popular culture
in order to strengthen students' analytic, creative and communication
skills. Teachers create their own multimedia projects using images,
sound and language.
- Storytelling and the
Analysis of Mass Media Narratives
This course provides
opportunities for advanced analysis of the huge volume of stories
which reach us everyday via television, cable, popular music and
print. A framework will be provided to help teachers integrate analysis
of the concepts which are at the foundation of popular stories:
the cult of celebrity, multiple plot lines, dramatic conflict and
the use of violence, sensationalism. Strategies for helping students
strengthen analytic and creative communication skills through the
analysis of popular narrative will be explored.
- Practicum 1Curriculum
Design Seminar in Media Education
- Practicum 2: Curriculum
Design Seminar in Media Education
These two courses provides
opportunities for teachers to design their own curricular materials
which connect media literacy concepts to a particular subject area.
By completing a final paper, students who enroll in the Harvard
Institute in Media Education can receive practicum credit for participating
in this week-long institute. Teachers who participate in the Ad
Lab, an authentic working advertising agency within the school district,
will work collaboratively to initiate multimedia production and
analysis projects with their students.
- Television and Multimedia
as Instructional Tools
This course will introduce
teachers to the range of appropriate uses and misuses of technology
and media in the classroom, exploring the critical and pedagogical
philosophy which underlies media use. Teachers will develop skills
for evaluating media resources from sources including Cable in the
Classroom, Whittle Channel One, public television, alternative media
and media art. Teachers will explore new media, including laser
discs, CD ROMS, on line services, and distance learning opportunities.
- Designing and Producing
This course gives teachers
the advanced skills in video production which will enable them to
design and produce videotapes which have instructional value. Teachers
will learn strategies for effective pre-production, production and
post-production and develop a video production with a small team.
- Integrating Media Production
Activities into the Curriculum
This course provides
opportunities for the systematic examination of how hands-on work
with print, images and video can be used to strengthen students
understanding of various subject areas, promote teamwork and effective
problem-solving, and improve written, oral and visual communication
skills. Special attention to the role of the teacher, the design
of learning activities, and issues of class management, discipline
and course structure will be explored.
- Global Perspectives in
This course gives teachers
the opportunity to analyze the pedagogical philosophy underlying
media education in the nations of Australia, Great Britain, Canada
and Spain. Teachers will evaluate curriculum and resource materials
available from these nations and explore the differences and similarities
between U.S. approaches and that of other nations.
- Capstone Seminar: Media
Education and School Reform
This course examines
the future of education by analyzing how media education may play
a role in school reform efforts. Issues in media education are connected
to various controversies in education reform, including critical
pedagogy and empowerment theory, gifted and special needs education,
cultural literacy and school choice.