Tools for Media Literacy

Assignment: Media Literacy, developed by Renee Hobbs, is a three-volume, 18-unit set of videos to aid teachers in educating students, elementary through secondary, in media literacy.

Below you will see the Middle School Introduction video.

(You can find links to all of the videos by visiting here.)

In this introduction several important points are made that can be successful when incorporating media literacy into lessons, including:

1) Students need to learn critical thinking skills.

Teachers who incorporate media literacy into their curriculum help students to become critical thinkers. Summers, author of Get Them Thinking! : Use Media Literacy to Prepare Students for State Assessments stresses the importance of these lessons, not only for state assessment tests, but also for life. Summers believes that, “The media literate citizen must be a healthy skeptic with skills to judge the reliability of sources of information, to verify the validity of facts, and finally to reflect on the meaning and impact on one’s personal life” (2005). We don’t want to turn children into cynics who assume everything the media tells them is false, but they also can’t be “sponges” that absorb everything the media tells them and assume all of it is true (Summers, 2005). Summers also notes the importance of relating media literacy and critical thinking activities to students lives, leading in to point number two. This helps teachers connect with the students, so the students are able to remember the lessons.

2) Teachers need to make learning relevant to students and their culture.

Children are swarmed with media messages constantly and they may not even realize it. Belinha De Abreu, an auxiliary assistant professor at Drexel University, and two others developed a unit to help seventh-graders learn what visual messages they encounter on a daily basis. Part of the lesson asked students to take photos of their bedrooms and create a PowerPoint presentation noting what visual media messages they found. De Abreu writes, “We were stunned to realize the explicit amount of media found in our students’ lives!” (2008). Making students aware of the media around them is the first step of media literacy. Once aware, students can learn to analyze and evaluate those messages. Giving them the skills to question truth from fiction, right from wrong is incredibly valuable. They will be able to make their own decisions, based on their evaluations. A pdf of the article can be viewed by clicking here.

3) Students need to be entertained.

Youth today is used to the fast pace of the digital age, having access to more activities and gadgets to engage their attention (Intrator, 2001). Education has to compete with that. “Although many would argue that schools should not be in the business of entertaining our children, we should not be surprised when our media savvy youth do not behave like pliant cherubs when faced with the tedious routines of school” (Intrator, 2001).  This relates to point number two; lessons need to relate to the students. The media lessons that Hobbs demonstrates do both; children are entertained when they’re involved in lessons that apply to their real lives.


De Abreu, B. (2008). Seventh Grade Students and the Visual Messages They Love.

Knowledge Quest: Journal of the American Association of School Librarians, 36(3), 34-39. Retrieved from

Intrator, S. (2001). Teaching the Media Child in the Digital Swarm. Arts Education Policy Review, 102(6), 25-27.

Summers, S. L. (2005). Get Them Thinking! : Use Media Literacy to Prepare Students for State Assessments, ch, 1.

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