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Mastering Media Literacy: Tips for Teachers

Updated: May 16, 2023

This is a graphic of someone doing a media literacy activity on their laptop.

Media is advancing at a rapid rate. Students have access to social media, the internet, and in more recent developments, AI technology. The rapidly changing media landscape has placed increasing importance on teaching students about media literacy and explaining how to evaluate, interpret, write and design media. Today's blog will outline the recent changes in the modern media landscape, as well as unique tips that teachers can incorporate in their classrooms to make their students media literate digital citizens.

Media Landscape in Recent Years:

In the past, media literacy education primarily focused on traditional media such as printed books, magazines, newspapers, and television. Though these topics are still incredibly important, teachers are now responsible for learning modern media forms and relaying their information to their students. With the rising use of social media, such as TikTok, as well as AI ChatGPT technology, students must learn to question the sources of their information and the motives behind their creation.

I remember vividly teaching high school fitness classes and seeing just how quickly TikTok emerged. I figured it would be a short-lived trend, but found out in a matter of weeks that it rapidly changed the social media landscape and it would be here to stay.

Oh, the struggle to stop the in-class TikTok dances!

This image shows students looking at social media on their cell phones in the context of a media literacy discussion.

Unique Tips for Teachers:

There are several unique tips that teachers can incorporate into their classrooms to help their students become media-literate digital citizens. Here are a few:

1. Start Early: Introduce media literacy to students as early as possible. Fortunately, media literacy education in Ontario begins in Grade 1, but – let's be real—most children are already heavily engaged in media consumption before Grade 1. Because students are already exposed to media, it's important to teach them how to navigate it from a young age.

2. Analyze Advertisements: Use advertisements as a tool to teach media literacy. Analyze the messages that advertisements convey and the tactics they use to persuade viewers.

3. Encourage Critical Thinking: Encourage students to ask questions and think critically about the media they are consuming. Teach them to consider the source of the information and to question whether the information is reliable. Case studies are a great way to present scenarios with questionable sources of information or bias.

Teach students to consider the sources of information and how to recognize bias.

4. Teach Digital Citizenship: Teach students about digital citizenship. Digital citizenship is the ability to navigate digital environments such as social media safely. A good digital citizen is responsible and considerate and can respectfully engage in these spaces. Developing strong digital citizens requires teaching online safety, privacy, and responsible online behaviour. Again, case studies are a great way to do this!

Digital citizenship is the ability to navigate in digital environments such as social media in a safe way.

5. Engage Parents: Involve parents in media literacy education. Encourage parents to talk to their children about media literacy and to monitor their media use.

Two students exchanging numbers or texting using their cell phones.

Where to get started?

Teaching media literacy to elementary students in Ontario is crucial in today's digital age. For those wishing to design their own resources, we always recommend beginning with the curriculum and planning your programming around these expectations. However, for those looking to purchase a program, we recommend our Teacher Resource Cabin media literacy units.

A Grade 2 media literacy workbook that teachers can use to teach students about media literacy using the Ontario curriculum.

Our Teacher Resource Cabin media literacy resources were carefully designed with the modern digital landscape in mind. Creating teaching resources and worksheets can be overwhelming, so we have created these Ontario curriculum-linked resources for you. We have a different version available for each grade from 1-8, so you can have content that is tailored to your student's needs.

Topics found in these workbooks vary depending on curriculum expectations, but common themes include media purpose, stereotypes, and media techniques. Also included are engaging vocabulary, activities, small projects, and quizzes. Each page is directly linked to an Ontario curriculum expectation, ensuring that you cover everything you need to in your lessons. Plus, our suggested activities and instructions make it easy to incorporate other ideas and create a complete, comprehensive unit.

Click the images below to get a direct link to each grade's media literacy unit!

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