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Archive for the ‘Media Literacy’ Category

In an earlier post, mediateacher.net highlighted the New York Times teaching resource “Film Club.” There are many great shorts that they post along with discussion points and lesson plans, such as the recent post, Animated Life: Seeing the Invisible

For Media Literacy or Social Studies teachers, here is another exceptional new series of short videos that can be used as resources for debate of current events and  contemporary intersections of media, politics, and propaganda: Operation Infektion. These docs explore the longstanding practices of disinformation campaigns by Soviet and Russian secret services (such as the KGB) that have evolved over several decades and whose impacts appear to be quite substantial in America and many countries.  Below are links to the video series and an article by director and writer Adam Ellick.

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Three years ago, on these pages was the post Snapchat 101. Haha, how quaint.  Right?  Heard about Bytedance lately?  Or Musical.ly?  (If not, check out this thoughtful piece by Anastasia Bell from Medium, if you hadn’t seen it earlier this year.) So what is the price of “meaningless stuff” — as some describe the content shared through apps like these?  We’ll be calculating these prices for a long, long time, I think.  Some things change, and some never will — like the elusive nature of trends and what new gotta-do-it twist will draw in teens and even younger viewers, and now creators, of media.  And while certain content of The Merchants of Cool might seem “old” by now — are the core messages of it really all that passé?

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With more exciting news in our Resources category (such as the Prelinger Archives and Portraits of America posts this year), the Library of Congress has announced that the National Screening Room is now online and features extensive resources for media literacy education.  Many items from this vital national archive are now accessible to the general public and classrooms across the country (and world).  As noted in an article by CBS News, among its highlights are: the classic Edwin S. Porter short The Great Train Robbery (featured for study in Chapter 2), the 1953 feature The Hitch-Hiker by Ida Lupino (a prime director for study with Chapter 5), and a wide variety of diverse types of media such as advertisements, PSAs, and home movies that are discussed in such posts as What Exactly is that Movie? on mediateacher.net and in our investigations of motion picture language and screenwriting throughout Moving Images. 

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Here is a superb resource for media literacy courses: the “Film Club” Learning Network offered by The New York Times. From this site, you can find short documentary films, most under 10 minutes, and related discussion questions.

And here is a Reader Idea resource created by English teacher Michael Kellen that features lessons with the shorts Girl Boxer and Arctic Boyhood

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screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-6-50-48-pmThis article by Google (about their own initiative) highlights interesting work in technology applications used to study and evaluate gender roles onscreen in film and to use data to analyze screen time by gender in a variety of movies.  This resource can be of value in media literacy work that explores gender bias and social implications of media messages.  For further research, there are many resources available through the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

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Continuing in a series of posts about the importance of language in the work of media literacy, it is clear that the proper use of words will continue to be a topic of utmost importance to educators today.  In the previous post, the use — and more importantly, egregious misuse — of the term “fake news” was discussed.  Today, we investigate those greedy, fearsome creatures hiding under bridges in wait for all of the Internet’s unsuspecting billy goats, threatening to “gobble them up!” — the hideous Troll!

Regularly, many websites and public posts use terms to describe behaviors that evolved out of the use of digital social media: in this case, the verb “to troll” and the related personal description of “the troll.”  According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a troll is “a person who intentionally antagonizes others online by posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content” and to troll is “to antagonize (others) online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content.”  And, regularly, this behavior is done anonymously.  For teachers, these definitions are also important because these terms and the behavior they describe work with strong parallels to bullying, which is a topic of significant implications of professional and legal responsibility to educators.

screen-shot-2017-02-19-at-1-06-38-pmHowever, as with a wide range of terms to describe behaviors that reflect the aggressive, damaging, and purposefully hurtful exchanges commonly viewed in web-based communicative platforms, the use of vocabulary can become twisted to minimize or distort the original meaning so that it becomes a hollow, warped, or virtually meaningless version of its original sense.  In practice, a word can just turn into a big joke.

On numerous recent occasions, I have witnessed the word “troll” used in this way.  Just this past weekend, President Donald Trump erroneously referred to “what’s happening last night in Sweden,” as if there had been a terrorist attack in this Scandinavian country.  Elected officials and media outlets in Europe — and in America — reacted with a mixture of bafflement, corrections, and derision.  Nonetheless, here is a follow-up headline from Yahoo News, echoed by many Internet sources: “Trump Trolled Over Remark About Sweden.”  In the articles that appeared with this description, the evidence given was typically that various public figures around the world made posts that corrected, questioned, or made light of the statement.  And that, somehow, the President of the United States was now “a victim.”

When any attempt at correction of a falsehood, personal or cultural attack, or distortion of factual evidence — or even any satiric message that is in response to falsehoods communicated to the general public — is described as “trolling,” this is quite problematic.  Particularly when the figure or group or entity responsible for the original false statement, message, or attack is in a place of power.  Yet again, it is clear that media literacy requires knowing our vocabulary and using it correctly.  And, moreover, being able to communicate effectively and understand clearly are at the heart of schools and communities and governments that are based on ideals of freedom, equality, and justice.

And remember, if students are as wise as our friends the Three Billy Goats Gruff, they can get away to enjoy the beautiful, bountiful fields on the other side of the bridge.

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loveduckslogoArthur as a title has two great distinctions.  (Yes, and a big Dudley Moore hit from a few decades ago.  Kinda funny.  But odd, for sure.)  First, George Harrison’s inimitable punch line to “What do you call this haircut?” in the groundbreaking Richard Lester masterwork and Beatles-style celebration of life and music-making A Hard Day’s Night

And next, what is easily in the Top 5 of best-ever kids’ TV shows (and really one of the best of any shows): ArthurYup, the kids animated show.  Endlessly inventive, quirky, character-driven, wittily subversive and provocative, gentle, inspiring, dramatically solid, and consistently brilliant, Arthur is a treasure of children’s programming.  You want a major lesson in Media Literacy? — check out The Love Ducks from the episode That’s a Baby Show!

colbertarthurSo this recent piece by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert featuring his musical collaborator Jon Batiste and some special guests was a real treat.  Enjoy!

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