Media literacy education is about teaching people to become critical thinkers and effective communicators.
One of the best ways to incorporate media literacy education into the classroom is through constructivism, a theory that focuses on learning beyond the classroom experience.
According to Gabler and Schroeder (2002), the theory is about providing students with ways to connect what they learn in the classroom to the real world; it focuses on how students can create meaning in what they are learning.
By bringing media into the classroom, students can be given the opportunity to see the subject from a different perspective. For example, photojournalism is one of the many tools of the media that can potentially help encourage creativity among the students and show them that something fun can have a powerful effect on society.
Constructivist teaching gives teachers a chance to teach lessons that are student-centered and gives students a chance to be expressive and collaborative (Gabler and Schroeder, 2002).
Project Look Sharp, a media literacy initiative at Ithaca College published a guide in 2008 to help educators of all subjects and grade levels integrate media literacy into their curriculum.
12 Basic Ways to Integrate Media Literacy and Critical Thinking into Any Curriculum, by Cyndy Scheibe and Faith Rogow, explains that it is more effective for educators to integrate media literacy into their curriculum than teaching it as a stand alone topic.
The 12 Basic Ways to Integrate Media Literacy (Scheibe and Rogow, 2008) are:
- Practice general observation, critical thinking, analysis, perspective-taking and communication skills.
- Stimulate interest in a new topic.
- Identify how students’ prior ideas about a topic have been influenced by media messages.
- Use media as a standard pedagogical tool.
- Identifying sources for erroneous beliefs about a topic.
- Develop an awareness of issues of credibility and perspective.
- Compare the ways different media present information about a topic.
- Analyze the effect that specific media have had on a particular issue or topic across different cultures and/or historically.
- Build and practice specific curricular skills.
- Facilitate use of a range of media formats to express students’ opinions and illustrate their understanding of the world.
- Use media as assessment tools.
- Connect students to the community and work toward positive change
Scheibe, C. and Rogow, F. (2008). “12 Basic Ways to Integrate Media Literacy and Critical Thinking into Any Curriculum”. Project Look Sharp. Ithaca College.
Gabler, I.C. and Schroeder, M. (2002). Constructivist Methods for the Secondary Classroom. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.