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Thursday, March 13, 2014

5 Key Questions That Can Change the World

My most recent 4th grade Internet Safety lesson on "scams and schemes," which was primarily about email and IM spam, and today's 5th Grade Internet Safety lesson called "Selling Stereotypes" reminded me of an article I read years ago about media literacy and the five key questions that we should be teaching our students to ask themselves any time they interact with media- whether it be a newspaper or magazine article, a textbook or another book, a print ad, a movie, a TV show or commercial, or a music video.  The "Five Key Questions that can change the World," as the Center for Media Literacy calls them, are as follows:
  1. Who created this message?
  2. What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
  3. How might different people understand this message differently than me?
  4. What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?
  5. Why is this message being sent?
The above questions align with the following core concepts of media literacy:
  1. All messages are "constructed."
  2. Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.
  3. Different people experience the same media message differently.
  4. Media have embedded values and points of view.
  5. Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.
Teaching our students these questions and concepts encourages them to look at media content and the choices that were made in constructing it; the format of media and the way it is constructed; the idea that our differences can influence the way we interpret media; the subtle messages included in media that depict values, attitudes, and points of view; and the purpose of or motive behind media "beyond the basic content motives of informing, persuading, or entertaining."  Viewing the media from this perspective with a more critical eye gives students the opportunity to explore it on a deeper level.

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