Media Literacy is a Super Power

Andrea Quijada, Executive Director of the Media Literacy Project, delivers an impassioned and convincing argument that students should be provided instruction on media literacy. Her TEDx Talk is entertaining and gives engaging examples of how media literacy positively affects students.

This week’s collection of resources is my favorite collection of curated media for the classroom. The collection includes various sources presented using different types of media, which allows for differentiation for students as well as differentiation for my peer teachers based on their technology comfort level. Andrea Quijada explains why people can gain a superpower if they know how to deconstruct and analyze media. Her Tedx Talk is actually my favorite source this week! In order to keep the following resources organized and well remembered, I will deviate from my usual format of “essay” and outline these sources in an annotated bibliography, which is more meaningful to me, and hopefully to my blog readers.

1. The Center for Media Literacy

CML provides sources intended for anyone involved in education. The amount of material housed in this site is almost overwhelming. Their resources are current, but for those looking for historical thinking on media literacy, CML has Media & Values magazine articles dated back to 1977. The most pertinent materials for me were housed in the section called “CML MediaLit Kit.” Here I found case studies, student-made examples, lesson plans, and helpful articles to use when presenting information to students. The materials on this site would be useful for students who are confident in their reading abilities. Much was not appropriate for students in younger grades, especially for those students who struggle with English.

2. Media Literacy & Digital Citizenship Web Video

Frank Gallagher, Executive Director of Cable in the Classroom, presents a background on the topic of media literacy and the importance of teaching students about media literacy. Gallagher offers a clear and concise view of the broad reaches and the broad definition of modern media. He gives an overview of what CIC offers which is guided by the idea that to be literate in media, you need to understand how to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media. I found this video to be very effective from a teacher’s point of view. This video would be helpful in a professional development setting when a school is beginning a media literacy program and needs to provide a baseline of understanding of media literacy to all staff.

3. How to Recognize Bias in a Newspaper Article

Wikihow is a good source for “how to” articles. Of course, the reader needs to cross-reference materials to ensure credibility. This particular Wikihow article was edited by 35 users. It is a terrific step-by-step instruction that could be used by students to analyze an article. Although the site is intended to help students analyze newspapers, the instructions could easily be adapted for any article, whether it be presented in website or in other media format. I like that Wikihow distills instructions into short pieces of information coupled with pictures. This way of presenting information would work well with my middle-school-aged students who struggle with reading English.

4. Media Literacy 101: What is Media Literacy

Cable in the Classroom (CIC) provides an in-depth post on their website, which is a source which would couple perfectly with Frank Gallagher’s video, referenced above. The intended audience for this information would be “the presenter.” What I mean by this is that the information would be helpful for a teacher to gain more in-depth knowledge on the subject of media literacy before teaching a unit. Or this information would be helpful to a leader prior to presenting information to a school or district staff. This site would also be an excellent read as homework for teachers prior to a professional development session on media literacy. The CIC site has additional helpful resources beyond this article. They also provide links to other sources on media literacy and screen cable programs for appropriateness based on different audiences.

5. Creating Critical Thinkers Through Media Literacy: Andrea Quijada at TEDx

Andrea Quijada is very passionate about media literacy. Her work history has matched her passion as she has dedicated herself to media literacy for the last ten years.  For the past 20 years, she has maintained the role of community organizer. She presents nationally and internationally on behalf of the Media Literacy Project. When watching her TEDx Talk, I definitely got the idea that her added passion is advocating for young women and helping young women advocate for themselves. In her talk, she spoke of specific student examples and how media literacy positively impacted those students. She also shared powerful projects where students deconstructed media messages and provided their own “corrected” media message. Really interesting.

6. Teaching Digital Citizenship

Cable Impacts developed a resource site loaded with lesson plans intended for students in grades 4 – 8. The lesson plans use inquiry-based activities and collaborative opportunities. The lessons are organized by digital media topics: communication & collaboration, digital citizenship, privacy, media literacy, cyberbullying, ethics/copyright, and information literacy. The lessons are also tagged by type of standard to assist teachers in integrating these lessons into cross-curricular units. Good support materials are available for teachers to gain background knowledge. Additional support materials are available for students, for direct inclusion in lessons. There are also step-by-step lesson plans with helpful links to increase confidence in the novice teacher. All materials  are downloadable for any type of computer. This is especially helpful for those of us who may suffer from sluggish broadband.


Works Cited:

Center for media literacy. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Gallagher, F. (Producer). (2014). Media Literacy & Digital Citizenship [Web Video]. Retrieved from

How to recognize bias in a newspaper article. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Media literacy 101: I. what is media literacy?. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Quijada, A. (Performer). (2013, Feb. 19). Creating critical thinkers through media literacy: Andrea Quijada at TEDx [Web Video]. Retrieved from

Teaching digital citizenship. (n.d.). Retrieved from


Cyberbullying is Bullying

“You being bully!”

An article on the “Kids Health” blog defines cyberbullying succinctly: “Cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person.” How do we address cyberbullying in schools today? Is it effective?

Before the discussion continues, we need to agree that cyberbullying is actually encompassed in the larger issue of bullying. The specific use of technology adds a facet to the larger issue, but the two go hand in glove.  As a matter of fact, bullying prevention programs often address cyberbullying as part of their curriculum. This begs the question “How is bullying being addressed in schools today?”

Schools all over the United States have adopted some form of an anti-bullying program. A recent study at University of Texas at Arlington, found that schools with anti-bullying programs were actually more likely to have bullying problems.

In another study, the U.S. Department of Education found that only 8% of anti-bullying programs used in American schools are actually research-based. One program, Olweus, was profiled by the U.S. Department of Education as an evidence-based proven program. It is a highly structured program that engages all players (administrators, parents, students, and community members). All players are coached in role-playing scenarios. They help proactively answer the what-to-do for all conceivable questions and situations.

After reading this study, I was left with the question of why I hadn’t heard about the Olweus program. It could be that the three districts I have worked in never had adopted a definitive anti-bullying program. To validate this, I checked all three district sites. The first district I worked in did adopt a program the year after I left. The other two clearly don’t address bullying anywhere on their public sites.

In Nancy Willard’s keynote presentation at the 2013 Bullying Symposium, she reported that during the three years Pennsylvania employed the Olweus program, they achieved no improvements regarding bullying. I am skeptical of this result. I wondered if Pennsylvania used the curriculum as it was intended, including all required communications and trainings. In my years as an educator, I found that schools and districts adopt many programs and then complained when they didn’t work in spite of their failure to fully implement.

Willard’s keynote was filled with excellent ideas to adopt in my classroom to create a community of students who can define bullying behavior and articulate what is acceptable and not. These strategies would easily work in a school-wide or district-wide setting. Further research on Willard’s suggested practices were found in articles and interviews with her.

Willard suggested beginning with a survey in order to collect data on student expectations regarding bullying. This could be altered to specifically address cyberbullying. The survey results would then inform the action needed for each school. The results should provide student quotes which can help norm a school. She strongly recommends including students in order to support positive peer intervention. She also uses this data to help students create positive social norms. More details can be read at Cyber Savvy.

I appreciated that Willard has a background in law. I believe that schools need to align with the vocabulary and expectations that are set regarding bullying by the courts. It would be wise to teach students and staff what is legally acceptable and not acceptable. I think this would bring some “real life” to the talk, and not come off as “just talk.” Although she admits that her suggested strategies are not yet “evidence-based,” there is plenty of evidence to suggest it will work.


Works Cited:

Almansi, C. (2011, Feb. 14). Cyberbullying: An interview with nancy willard. Retrieved from

Antoniades, A. (2013, Dec. 17). Reality check: Do bullying prevention programs work? Takepart, Retrieved from

Crosse, S., Williams, B., Hagan, C., Harmon, M., Ristow, L., DiGaetano, R., … Derzon, J. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Policy and Program Studies Service. (2011). Prevalence and implementation fidelity of research-based prevention programs in public schools: Final report. Retrieved from website:

New, M. (2012, Jan.). Cyberbullying. Retrieved from

Nsbsd: Parent resources. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Ohler, J. (2010). Digital community, digital citizen. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.

WFYIProductions. (Producer). (2013, Mar. 09). Bullying Symposium 2013 Keynote Speaker Nancy Willard [Web Video]. Retrieved from

Willard, N. (2013). Cyber savvy. Retrieved from

CommonSense Media

Digital Citizenship

Infographic courtesy of

Digital Citizenship must become a priority in public education. However, technology misuse/abuse is a societal problem as much as it is a school problem. If we are to become a civilized technological society in the 21st century, technology leaders must create a vision for intelligent technology behavior. Digital Citizenship must become the norm and not the exception in our society. (Bailey & Ribble, 2005)

At this point, I hope all educators would agree that technology is part of education. I understand that this statement is only a hope. Once this hope becomes a reality, there are a plethora of educated people that understand that visionary leadership is the fundamental key that will change the expectations of the inclusion of technology in our classrooms. Bailey and Ribble’s quote above from a 2005 article is one of countless examples which underscore the need for leadership support.

Once leadership begins to think of technology as a given, which is actually required by our state standards, then we can move on to an implementation plan. In this day and age, with the commonality of technology, and with the inclusion of technology spelled out in the Common Core and the new Alaska state standards, I find it neglectful on behalf our our students that leadership has not grasped the need for educational technology for every one of our students. What will convince them? What entity needs to take them by the scruff of their necks to force this issue? A class action lawsuit was filed in the state of California to require all schools to provide equal access to instructional materials. I wonder if it will take a class action lawsuit to bring educational technology to every Alaskan classroom.
CommonSense Media outlined the educational need in their 2009 white paper.

The Need for Digital Literacy and Citizenship. This dynamic new world requires new comprehension and communication skills, as well as new codes of conduct, to ensure that these powerful media and technologies are used responsibly and ethically. Much of the interaction in this digital world happens at a distance, which can diminish the rules of cause and effect, action and consequence. Additionally, much of digital life takes place under the cloak of anonymity, making it easier to participate in unethical and even illegal behaviors. (CommonSense Media, 2009)

 At the point that all accept the need for digital literacy and citizenship for each of our students, educators will need quality materials to help them consistently and accurately educate students. CommonSense Media is already a provider of such materials. Their materials are available for teachers via website links, downloadable iBooks, or mailed flash drives which are preloaded with all their material for teachers who do not have online access. Our Google discussion on the topic of CommonSense Media’s materials indicated a consensus that the materials where easy to use for both students and teachers who were at any level of comfort with technology.
The iBooks are intended for devices that can easily play iBooks, like iPads. The books are available for four different age groups that range from Kindergarten to 12th grade. I downloaded one book as a sample on my MacBook and found that most of the iBook functioned well, after the initial download. I was able to push the download to all my student computers in an overnight batch, in order to take advantage of the hours of the day when the broadband is least impacted. If students were allowed to bring their own devices at my school, the iBooks would function better on iDevices. All the functionality, as the iBooks intended, would be available on iDevices.
The online materials from CommonSense come in two forms. The Digital Passport, which is intended for grades 3 – 5, provides an excellent platform for students to think about digital citizenship scenarios and skills. During instruction, using the online passport, teachers should take the opportunity to have open discussions with students about the scenarios and how those scenarios may apply in our students’ real lives. The other materials that are available online for teachers are step-by-step lesson plans, videos, and toolkits. All are well-organized and relevant. For those teachers with highly unreliable Internet or no access to the Internet, CommonSense media offers their media through the mail for a nominal fee.
My overall assessment of CommonSense materials is that they are excellent, relevant, and easy to use. Unfortunately, technology is still a choice for most educators, so only those that opt in will benefit from these terrific and free resources. I will continue to use these resources with my students few students in order to make some impact. Hopefully, others will follow suit.


Works Cited:

Bailey, G., & Ribble, M. (2005). Teaching digital citizenship: When will it become a priority for 21st century schools?. Retrieved from

Digital citizenship white paper. (2011). Retrieved from Microsoft website:

Educating, empowering, and protecting america’s kids: A common sense media white paper. (2009). Retrieved from CommonSense Media website:

Media and technology resources for educators. (2014). Retrieved from

San Francisco County Superior Court, (2009). Williams case: An explanation. Retrieved from California Department of Education website:

What does digital citizenship mean to you? (2014). Retrieved from

A Digital Drivers License or A Digital Passport: Curated Programs to Teach Digital Citizenship

The digital passport by Commonsense Media will be tested out this week by my class of 6th graders. Hopefully some of my peers at my school will join me in this test as well.

In order to teach students about digital citizenship and its importance, teachers need materials. In our Google discussion this week, there was complete consensus that two of the tools offered on the Internet would be very useful in this instruction when accompanied by thoughtful discussion and support by teachers: The Digital Passport and The Digital Driver’s License.

I still maintain that, to have an extremely effective program, highly effective materials need to be supported by leadership with a vision that includes meaningful integration of technology. Individual teachers can use these tools in order to have meaningful discussions with students about digital citizenship. If students only hear about digital citizenship issues here and there (inconsistently), it will not have the same staying power as if a whole school (or district) adopted this philosophy and learning.

In addition to looking at the Digital Drivers License and Digital Passport programs, I sought out other materials that would be helpful in teaching students all the components of being a responsible digital citizen. Edutopia is a consistent provider of very helpful information on topics like educational technology. It posted a brilliant article called the Five-Minute Film Festival. This post features a video playlist of twelve videos that cover a broad range of topics under the umbrella of digital citizenship. The intended audience for these videos include a mix of student and teacher viewers. For those wanting more information or to explore the topic further, Edutopia has curated additional resources.

Cable in the Classroom is another site that has put together a comprehensive list of videos and activities in order to teach about digital citizenship. These sources are intended for students in grades 4 – 8. The idea behind this site goes beyond becoming a responsible citizen. I like that this site offers videos and lessons that really make students think. For example, there is a lesson on viewing media and how advertisements affect people. CIC has completely laid out lesson plans which support both common core standards and ISTE standards. After my students complete their digital passports, I will lead them through Cable in the Classroom’s lessons to both give another level of depth to the subjects for my students and also to test out the materials from a teacher’s perspective.

In researching tools to support teaching digital citizenship, what I have found is there is a mass of materials. This is a very important topic worthy of having a multitude of tools. It is really helpful to have sites curate a core selection of materials to help up teachers of specific grade level ranges. As an individual teacher, I will test out the materials that seem most suitable to my students and their skill level. I will continue to advocate for school-wide adoption of digital citizenship programs in order to best serve our whole student body.


Works Cited

Borovoy, A. (2012, Sept. 14). Five-minute film festival: Teaching digital citizenship. Retrieved from

Common Sense Educators. (Producer). Common sense media: Digital passport [Web Video]. Retrieved from

Commonsense Media. (n.d.). Digital passport. Retrieved from

Digital drivers license. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Empower students to be inctrl in a digital age!. (n.d.). Retrieved from