Essential QuestionHow does the media influence public perception? How can we determine if a media source is trustworthy?
Learning Standards Content
Students are expected to know the following:
- media technologies and coverage of current events
Students are expected to be able to do the following:
- construct arguments defending the significance of individuals/groups, places, events, or developments (significance)
- make ethical judgments about events, decisions, or actions that consider the conditions of a particular time and place, and assess appropriate ways to respond (ethical judgement)
I can use oral communication skills to share my understanding of reliable media sources with small groups and the whole class.
I can create arguments defending perspectives presented by media sources.
I can demonstrate ethical judgments and responses about media and coverage of current events.
First People's Principles of LearningLearning involves recognizing the consequences for one’s actions.
- Have students explore the Tree Octopus website using the See-Think-Wonder Have students record their first impressions and wonderings on the handout “See/Think/Wonder”.
- As a provocation, express concern about the tree octopus and state that the class should help. Write on the board “Strongly Agree”, “Agree”, Disagree”, and “Strongly Disagree”. Use the Value Line strategy to have students show whether or not they think they should help the tree octopus.
- Have students look at the main page of the Tree Octopus website. Encourage them to notice that the content is meant to be a “source for conspiracies and other diversions”.
- Ask: “How does it feel to be fooled?” Have students use Think-Pair-Share strategy to discuss. Debrief by making a connection to the FPPL that “Learning involves recognizing the consequences for one’s actions”.
- Have students write a reflection in their journals.
- Students brainstorm 6-8 types of media they use; ex. television, movie, social media, advertisements, magazines, newspapers, books, apps, gaming. Write these types on large chart paper. Hang chart paper on the wall or place on tables around the room.
- Break students into 6-8 groups. Students move in a carousel rotation to all the papers. At the paper they write what they know and wonder. Have students read before writing and give a check mark if they know or wonder the same thing that is already written.
- Have students return to their starting point and pick 5 key things from their paper and share them with the class. Debrief and document student questions.
Part 1: Understanding Media Literacy
- Write “Media Literacy” on the board. Have students brainstorm everything they know about media literacy. What is it? Why is it important?
- Show one or more of the brief student videos in the PBS collection Students Explaining Media. Have students take notes using the handout “Notice and Wonder”.
- Ask: “What are the issues?” “What can we do?” “What are your next steps?” Students should write a reflection in their journal. Record and debrief responses. Post “next steps” on a board.
Part 2: Thinking Critically About Online Information
- Ask: “How we can tell if something is real or fake?” Have students use Think-Pair-Share strategy to discuss.
- Play Reality Check Games (individual, pairs, or whole class)
- Students should use their journal to record ways to analyze online information. Then create a whole class list of how to analyze online information. Post co-created list on a wall and refer back during discussions.
Part 3: Analyzing Online Images
- Ask: “Why would someone create a fake image?” “Where have you seen fake images?” “How are fake images made?” Have students use Think-Pair-Share strategy to discuss.
- Play Fake or Foto (individual, pairs, or whole class)
- Debrief by asking how difficult it was to determine whether an image was computer generated or a photograph.
Part 4: Analyzing Sources
- Have students brainstorm trustworthy sources of information.
- Provide students with the following list of statements:
- According to Fox News, a suspected drunk driver ran back to his burning car to try lighting his cigarette using the flames according to the California Highway Patrol.
- According to com, Donald Trump tried to cheer up victims of wildfires by throwing marshmallows at them so they could make Smores.
- According to CNN, some kids were being fined for not having permits for their lemonade stands. Country Time Lemonade then offered to pay the fees for the kids’ stands and they called this initiative Legal-ade.
- Have students research one or more of the statements and then decide whether or not the statement is accurate and the source is trustworthy. (The Fox News and CNN statements are accurate while the Viralchords statement is not.)
Part 5: Analyzing Articles
- Have students compare 5 news articles using a Jigsaw strategy.
- Print or provide digital access to the following articles about vaccinations:
- Number students from 1-5 to create 5 groups. Provide each group with a different article about vaccinations.
- Students should read the article and answer the 5W’s and H Questions.
- In their expert groups, students should discuss the perspective about vaccinations presented in their article: positive, negative, neutral.
- Break students into mixed groups (at least one student from each article) so that students can share the information and perspectives presented in their articles.
- Have students respond in their journals: “How does the media influence public perception?”
Before and After Selfie Art
- Students create two cartoon images of themselves. The before image should show them before they knew about media literacy (brainstorm how they used to feel/ practices they used to do) and the after image should show their new knowledgeable self (brainstorm what they have learned and their new practices)
- Students should add labels and thought bubbles and speech bubbles to their art to show what they have learned.
- Students can play Common Sense Media’s Digital Compass (headphones required).
- Brainstorm themes and strategies. Ask: “What do you notice about the different characters?” “What choices did you make?” “What were you influenced by?” “How do choices impact actions?”
- Have students work with a partner to create a story of a character navigating the digital world. Students can tell the story through a six-panel comic strip.
Canadian Centre for Child Protection. [n.d.] “Zoe & Molly Online.”
Common Sense Media. 2015. “Educator Guide.” Digital Compass.
Common Sense Media. [n.d.] “Reviews for what your kids want to watch (before they watch it).” https://www.commonsensemedia.org/
Cyber Wise. [n.d.] https://www.cyberwise.org/
NeedHelpNow.ca. Youth Online Help. [n.d.] https://needhelpnow.ca/app/en/
Net Smart Teens. [n.d.] “Helping You Make Safer Choices Online.”
PBS. 2020. “Cybersecurity Lab.” NOVA Labs.
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McAnutly, Stacy. The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl. New York : Random House, 
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