Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Reading the World

Critical Media Literacy

An Urban Middle School 
Communication Arts Unit Learning Plan

"All the world’s a stage,” noted Shakespeare. But, the men and women are not merely players. They are the directors, designers and producers as well. In this two-week, techno-connected communication arts unit, seventh grade urban learners plug into core concepts of media literacy and expand their understanding of popular media texts. They consider their multiple roles in the media world as both consumers and producers. Learners link to a strategy for critically approaching any type of media text. Through a focus on reflection and reflective thinking, students also develop awareness of a dynamic that makes popular media seem to sometimes shape and influence our world, and sometimes simply hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature.”

In this unit, learners will:

     Examine and explore a five-component strategy for reading media texts;

     Interpret their thoughts about text in various forms of mass media;

     Discuss and define critical media literacy;

     Create a personal web splash page and descriptive blog essay;

     Reflect on the nature of reflection.

Although Reading the World constitutes a discrete, two-week unit -- it is conceived as the first part of a two-part series. This critical media literacy learning unit is designed to build background and skills, and then launch learners into a critical cultural literacy unit – a week-long writer’s workshop based on the “Reading Without Words” lesson concept in Linda Christensen’s Teaching for Joy and Justice.

Instructional Strategies: The central strategy of this learning plan uses information and ideas found online at the Center for Media Literacy (CML). The mix of mirror exercises are based on various Viola Spolin improvisation games.

Duration: ten, 50-minute sessions

Learners: A group of 21 mixed ability students from widely diverse cultural backgrounds, mainly Hmong, Black, White and Mexican American. (The group has theoretically had previous instruction on webware and experience with the websites.)

Reading the World
Core Learning Strategy Map

Standard: 7. 9. 7.  Critically analyze information found in electronic, print, and mass media and use a variety of these sources.

Core Objective: I can evaluate media with regard to bias, stereotype and message.

Learning Target: I can identify and describe five core concepts of critical media literacy.
Learning Assessment: media literacy reviews, pair-share handout
Learning Target: I can identify critical reflection and other types of reflective thinking.
Learning Assessment: discussion, quick-write
Learning Target: I can reflect on cultural stereotyping and social bias in the media.
Learning Assessment: discussion, critical reading exercises, media analysis games

Core Assessment: Media Literacy Quiz - 50%;

Standard: 7. 9. 8.  Communicate using traditional or digital multimedia formats and digital writing and publishing for a specific purpose.

Core Objective: I can publish my work on the web and share it with the world.

Learning Target: I can reflect my ideas through web texts.
Learning Assessment: essay and splash page composition process

Core Assessment: Published Bio Blog pages presentation - 50%

Assessment Description: Learners will construct a personal web page design and publish a biographical blog essay decoding the design choices.

ISTE NETS (National Educational Technology Standards) addressed:

Standard 1 - Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology

Standard 5 - Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology

Success Opportunity for Urban LearnersSOUL Focus:
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas, Production and Distribution of Writing

Reading the World
Unit Learning Plan Overview

Big Idea: Critical Reflection (analyzing, reconsidering and questioning experiences within a broad context of cultural issues)

Essential Questions:

  • How does reading and literacy relate to the media? 
  • How is my culture and community reflected in the media? 
  • How does the media influence my reading of myself?'
  • What are social benefits and drawbacks to pop media? 
  • What is meant by critical reading and critical literacy? 
  • How do I feel about mass media? 
  • What is reflective thinking? 
  • When and why do we reflect? 
  • How does the media influence our view of society? 
  • Does mass media make and manipulate our society – or simply mirror it?

Daily Lesson Plan

Lesson 1 – Critical Reading
o   Intro to critical media literacy / paintings as text
 Lesson 2 – Reflective Reading
o   Mirrors and the nature of reflection / vintage ads as text
Lesson 3 – Five Key Questions
o   reflect on personality traits / 5 Key Qs – magazines as text
Lesson 4 – Me, Myself and Media
o   Branding and Identity / start Bio splash page / 5 Key Qs
Lesson 5 – Same Show, Different Audience
o   Silent Film game / 5 Key Qs review / finish splash page
 Lesson 6 – Reflective Writing
o   Mirror exercise and reflection review / start Bio Blog essay
Lesson 7 – Movie Previews
o   write Bio Blog intro / movies as text
Lesson 8 – Post-Game Sports Re-Cap Report
o   write Bio Blog conclusion / quiz review / "Sports as text?"
Lesson 9 – You're On!
o   Quiz (5 Key Qs – reflection types) / publish blog pages
Lesson 10 – Reflecting the World
o   Social mirrors / “Is school a text?” / Cyber-Gallery Crawl

Differentiated Instruction
: Learners will need adjustments in the blog essay. Online access outside of class can be arranged. The delight and obvious danger of this unit plan is its multi-focus and many different activities. Some flattening and simplifying of the schedule may be needed if organization becomes an issue. Culturally, it may be best to stay with the vintage commercials and movies for as long as possible. The distance, I’m thinking, will free up discussion about ethnicity, gender and culture.

Special Resource Requirements: hand mirrors, Glogster and Blogger accounts

Materials – Unit Plan Forms: splash page, blog, Media Literacy Core Concepts chart, Five Key Questions, Expanded Questions, Media Literacy Quiz, teacher’s choice of media samples – paintings, vintage ads, magazine covers, CD covers, movie previews, TV commercials, sports post-game segment – preselected samples available online through my blog at:

Resources/Websites: examples of print and video advertisements

Center for Media Literacy

Viola Spolin exercises

Teaching for Joy and Justice by Linda Christensen at Rethinking Schools [www.rethinkingschools.org]


CBS Sports Postgame Show


Post a Comment