The Center for Media and Information Literacy at Temple University is currently working with New Media Technology Charter School to co-create a framework for media and information literacy integration across all grades and subjects.We are so excited to be working again with NMTCS after a successful professional development series in 2013, the Media Literacy Circle, in which eleven faculty members participated in connecting MIL to their classrooms and teaching practices.Our new initiative is even broader in scope — we will be developing a new, flexible MIL framework for all teachers at the school to use to inspire MIL thinking in lesson and project planning, and will be implementing new collaborative tools to make brainstorming, planning, and carrying out school-wide MIL projects an attainable goal for the whole faculty. We’ll keep you posted with some of the results of our partnership as the year goes on!
Sherri Hope Culver, Project Director
David Cooper More, Curriculum Specialist
Hugh Kesson, Assistant Director
March 16, 2016: Workshop
This week at NMTCS we concentrated on research. In thinking about research, we investigated where and how we, and our students, access information. The main areas that we considered in our session were what constitutes a reputable and disreputable source, and how we determine between them.
Renee Hobbs, writing about how to develop research skills in Digital and Media Literacy, discusses how a teacher connectsThe Crucible to MTV reality TV. The point she develops is that by working with what students know and understand, we can direct them to thinking more deeply about the way knowledge is created and disseminated. Teachers can ‘generate authentic questions’ by developing critical thinking around media and our subject areas. This often involves delving into the way that we make unexamined assumptions about where we find information. We used the example of the Flint water crisis to show how issues are presented to us with an ideological spin. This can be as subtle as all parties using cool blue and green themes on their sites.
We also spent some time thinking about how we typically search using well known engines. Though this is not necessarily a bad habit, we can end up getting all our information from very narrow sources. It is a challenge for all of us to always ask where our information comes from, why, and who stands to benefit. In our session we spent time thinking about why Google is so popular (it has become a verb, one teacher pointed out) and the pluses and minuses of our information searches beginning in the same place. We decided that to uncover how information is ranked and targeted to us through complex algorithms, we can assign tasks where students use different search engines and library databases to compare results.
We are aiming to put our new curriculum into effect in April, so our next session is going to involve the finalization of plans. It will be fascinating to see our new cross-curricular MIL projects brought to life!
March 2, 2016: Workshop
The New Media Technology Charter School and CMIL collaboration continues. We began our workshop today by considering the big media moments of the past week in the lives of school community members. Students and teachers alike followed news about the various controversies about race and racism in Hollywood that fed into a much debated Academy Awards show. Super Tuesday, however, was the main area of discussion for everyone. Amongst a predominantly African American student body Donald Trump’s anti-minority rhetoric was particular concern (https://www.newsday.com/news/nation/donald-trump-controversial-campaign-quotes-1.11206532). Students, when faced with a candidate who suggests deporting, walling off and banning non-white people from the United States, have been making fearful predications of their own status in a Trump-led US. Several teachers reported that students expressed fears that all non-white Americans could be deported, and while this is more a dystopian nightmare, rather than a practical possibility, it does speak to the psychological impact of divisive campaign statements given legitimacy by the lectern.
The source of the students’ fears, is of course not simply the candidates’ words, but the way that they are reported, repurposed and remixed in various media sources. We discussed how knowledge is created and disseminated today, and how we all need to be equipped to access and analyze information. The importance of access and analysis, two of the principles of the AACRA approach (https://www.slideshare.net/reneehobbs/digital-media-literacy-learning- process) can’t be underestimated in the school context. For this reason our project is focusing on where we find knowledge, what kind of knowledge it is, and what we can do with it, all questions vital to the development of media savvy citizens and the production of high quality Senior Projects (https://nmtcs.weebly.com/senior-project.html). Building on this week, in our next session we will be working on planning the projects and lessons in order to develop key skills.
February 16, 2016: CMIL and NMCTS Meeting One
Last year CMIL started its partnership with the New Media Technology Charter School in Philadelphia. NMTCS is committed to technology, culture and project-based learning, and seeks to give its graduates cutting-edge communication technology skills. They recognize that media literacy is a big part of being able to use, and critically engage with, any communication technology, so we are partnering with them to work to develop innovative curricula.
David Cooper Moore’s research into how media literacy is currently practiced, and might be strengthened, formed the first part of the project. We are now in the second phase of our work and Hugh Kesson is working with teachers to develop media literacy focused research projects for students in grades 9 and 11.
In our first meetings we are unpicking some of our own relationships with media, and getting a more nuanced idea of the different ways we negotiate an information and communication dense society. This will mean that we become more sensitive to the cultures young people live in and create, and better able to equip them for the challenges they face. We have already come across some substantial issues; is there a gap in the way that different generations view the importance of privacy? Are teachers’ definition of private information wholly different from their students’? We hope that by thinking through questions like these we will develop a curriculum that connects with students and sets up some deep thinking about 21st century literacy.