Archive for April, 2013

cannes2013As the end of the year is in view for many teachers, it could be time to look for some outside-of-the-box lessons — like checking out the selections for this year’s Cannes film festival and investigating the continually evolving world of film festivals, marketing, and distribution.  Not to forget red carpets.  I mention this because there is a very striking looking selection of movies this year, and for French teachers, you can do all of this work in French!

Here is the list of movies in competition, including new features by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, the Coen brothers, Alexander Payne, Steven Soderbergh, Nicholas Winding Refn, James Gray, Roman Polanski, and many others.

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MUDJeff Nichols’s Mud is arriving in theaters in the United States, and it provides rich points of discussion for the classroom, starting with its ties to American literary traditions of the South, including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  And for high school teachers, here is some big news: it’s PG-13!  (Which – as many educators certainly know – is often not the case with movies that delve into complex themes and develop multi-faceted characters …just start looking through lists year after year of award-winning movies!)

Jeff Nichols Directs "Mud"

Jeff Nichols Directs “Mud”

One particularly enlightening video for classroom use to discuss Mud is from the “Anatomy of a Scene” series by the New York Times.  Screenwriter and director Jeff Nichols provides excellent insight into the decision-making process of a filmmaker – particularly in relation to cinematography choices – which can stimulate very interesting group discussion.  In this interview with Jack Giroux of filmschoolrejects.com, Nichols discusses the writing process and inspirations for this movie, among other topics.  Also, here is a video interview of Nichols on firstshowing.net and a text interview from crave online that focuses primarily on “how to get it made” (and in which the journalist ends up by centering the discussion on the fact that he will be going to the Cannes festival this year!).  For those interested in pursuing information about collaboration between directors and actors, there are many interviews with star Matthew McConaughy (for whom Nichols created the role) while Jeff Nichols talks about highlights of his work with Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard, and others in the interviews linked above.

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Admongo: Deconstructing Commercial Messages

As mentioned earlier in this blog, at the 11th Annual Northeast Media Literacy Conference at UConn I am presenting a talk titled “CCSS and Media Literacy in the Classroom: Communications and Critical Thinking through Promotional and Public Service Messages.”  As a service to those attending the conference and to followers of this blog and the Moving Images textbook, here are notes and links included in my presentation.

First, it is important to review principles of media literacy: here are the essentials at the NAMLE website.

Then, on to what educators face as principal challenges in curriculum development today: the Common Core State Standards.  For media literacy professionals, the following descriptions are the essentials.  For Reading Literature:  Analyze the representation of a subject or key scene in two different artistic mediums (RL/9-10:7); Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (RL/11-12:7).  For Reading Informational Texts:  Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (incl. multimedia).. (RI/9-10:7); also, integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g. visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem (RI/11-12:7).  For Speaking and Listening, students must make strategic use of digital media (incl. audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.  (SL/9-12:5)  Finally, in History/Social Studies and Science/Technical Subjects, learners have to make strategic use of digital media (incl. audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.  (SL/9-12:5)

MerchantsCoverFor resources specific to the investigation of commercials, one of the best places to begin is at Frank Baker’s Media Literacy Clearinghouse, where there is a homepage for materials on critical thinking about advertising.  For educators of elementary and middle grades, there is the Federal Trade Commission resource Admongo, which features many exercises and lessons.  From my own materials related to Moving Images, there is an extended interview on this blog with advertising copywriter Kevin Goff, and links to commercials can be found.  These can be evaluated using such models as those of the Instructor’s Resources with Moving Images or this lesson from the MLC pages: Deconstructing a TV ad.  Recent ads have come under quite a bit of scrutiny, such as the commercials during this year’s Super Bowl.

Other examples used during the presentation are for investigative work done by students using such exposes as PBS’s Merchants of Cool and Digital Nation and Media Education Foundation’s Killing Us Softly and The Bro Code .   Using selected parts of these media reports as a basis, students must research topics offered by their teachers and create presentations based on the media questions that are most appropriate.  The attached Unit Activity GuideCritical Analysis 5b Lesson Plan – was drafted for work with Merchants of Cool and Digital Nation in conjunction with Chapter 5 of Moving Images.

As for examples from my classes that are shared during the presentation, those are for attendees – so I look forward to seeing some of you media literacy educators there!

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