Using Media Thoughtfully (Article)

I believe in trying to be a guide through the learning experience for my students. As an educator, my job is to engage the students and the curriculum. Here is an example of one powerful opportunity I did in my elementary school.

I created a display of books for Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January. There was a photo in a book of the speech delivered August, 28 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. The class was then read the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech; copies are handed out and some vocabulary discussed.

A video of the speech was then played with the TV faced away from the students. Now Dr. King’s phrasing came to life through the pauses; the audience responses were heard. The students listened to the words, some followed along on their papers. The students reflected on the event.

Then I turned the video screen to face the class.  I replayed the speech sequence again. Not only was this the 3rd time they had heard the words- now they were eager to see the speech. They had a lot to offer to their peers.

For younger students, I just did a short excerpt of the speech.
As a library media specialist, I see the same students year after year and am able to build on the past experiences.

I teach ‘Media Literacy’ to 5th graders. I give the students skills that they can use in a world where they are constantly bombarded by ‘the media’.  They learn to analyze the subtle messages that are trying to manipulate them.  Not all of this is geared toward consumerism.

By using the strong attachment to media that children already have, you can teach them to see the message beyond ‘the messages’. You can give the students the vocabulary they need to explain their world and to become self reliant. I display advertisements (mostly non profit and social marketing) that are wonderful.  The students discuss and reflect on the images and the text. When they see credible ads they can learn to discern the difference. I feel that by exposing our future young leaders to the possibility of the positive use of media, we all win.

For the “I Have a Dream” speech transcript and audio recording, click here

Submitted by Karen Kosko

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