Consume Media Critically (Middle School)

On Friday, March 6th, Civic Spirit convened a Middle School “Media Literacy Day of Learning” for Luria Academy of Brooklyn and De La Salle Academy.

This was the first event in the two-school partnership, an idea which the teachers have been imagining since the 2018 Summer Institute. This joint initiative will culminate with the Middle School Civic Spirit Day on Tuesday, May 26th.

Students learned valuable new strategies for mining media and news for accuracy and validity.

  • Research the Author: What else does he/she/they do? Who does the author work for? What are the authors’ credentials and evidence for expertise on this topic?
  • Beware of Language Tricks: Is the article trying to encourage a certain behavior? If so it may be presenting the information not entirely objectively and relaying a biased message.
  • Repeat Offender: Use reverse image search to see where else the photo has been used.
  • Expensive Price Tag: Check the sponsor of the article – do they have a vested interest in conveying a certain perspective?
  • Common Sense: How does the information and argument in this article match up with what I already know? Does something about this seem fishy?

Always open a 2nd tab and get more info!

The event was a success in achieving the following:

  1. CONNECTION: Enabled students and teachers to break out of their demographic silos and bond with others from different backgrounds, during work projects and more informally over lunch.
  2. LITERACY: Identified challenges inherent in today’s news environment and highlighted concrete tools and skills to become a critical consumer of media (e.g. check authors’ credentials; check who is sponsoring the article).
  3. PRACTICE: Gave students the opportunity to test out their newly learned tools while researching on laptops a topic that is meaningful to them; each pair of students — 1 Luria and 1 De La Salle student — chose a topic together. (Ex. Coronavirus; Super Tuesday; Michael Jackson’s intellectual property.)
  4. CONTINUITY: Encouraged ownership over the learning by asking students to fill out a News Feed Pledge Card naming at least one thing they will do differently when they read or watch the news.

The event honored all three pillars of Civic Spirit methodology:

I. Civic Belonging – we opened the event by asking every student and teacher to say their name out loud.

II. Democratic Fluency – we discussed the history of media development from the first airing of radio to personal blogs to the 24 hour news cycle.

III. Civic Skills – students learned about and practiced the invaluable 21st century skill of critical media consumption.

We are continually blessed to see the glory of young people become the change we hope to see in the world.