Lesson Four: Assessment: Applying What You Have Learned to Create Your Own Media Decoding Lesson

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Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this lesson, participants of this course will be able to apply what they have learned to create their own media literacy education lesson plan.

Create Your Own Lesson Plan

"Constructivist decoding assumes that each student constructs their own meaning from the interaction between the document (video clip, web page, print article, etc.) and her/his own unique identity (age, experience, views, etc.). It is the role of the teacher to ask questions that will result in the richest discussions. The art of leading a constructivist decoding is more improvisational than it is scripted – with the teacher fluidly deciding where and how to respond to each student comment - considering how comments might be understood by the other students. The teacher must be open to where student meaning making leads while also staying focused on the learning goals."- Project Look Sharp

Now it is your turn to use what you have learned so far in this mini course to create your own media literacy education lesson plan. Schiebe and Rogow list plenty of useful ways to incorporate media literacy education in to your curriculum. Here are their examples:

  • Analyze political cartoons and then have students create their own comics to retell an historical event, to imagine what a contemporary observer at a historical event would have said, or to comment on a current issue. Use the opportunity to talk about visual representation, target audience, and the use of symbols.
  • Identify ways for students to communicate with experts at museums or in other countries through websites or video conferencing.
  • Access international news sources online as part of lessons in global studies to provide a broader understanding of events and issues in those countries as well as insights about how journalists in other countries see the United States.
  • Hollywood history—As part of an end-of-unit assessment, have students identify accurate or inaccurate historical content in popular films (e.g., The Patriot [1990], Saving Private Ryan [1998], or Gone with the Wind [1939]).
  • Country reports—Tweak the common elementary school “country” report by adding media to the typical list of information about exports, form of government, flag, and so on. Have students find out how much of the country’s popular media are imported from the United States and discuss with students what difference it makes if media are government controlled, independent, or commercial; if people get news primarily from print and radio as opposed to TV or the Internet; or if people have cell phones. Students might also include an analysis of the country’s money as an important source of media messages.
  • Word cloud analyses—“Word clouds” (which can easily be created using websites such as www.wordle.net or www.tagxedo.com) allow you to import a section of text that is then turned into a graphical representation based on the frequency of different words. This provides a dramatic summary illustrating the terms and ideas emphasized in the text, which teachers can use to introduce or summarize a speech or historical document and students can use to graphically compare and analyze the content of different speeches.
  • Media and government—Have students look at the ways in which government regulation influences or has influenced the media they use. Explore how the courts have interpreted the concepts of free speech and freedom of the press or the content of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (see http://transition.fcc.gov/telecom.html). Discuss the differences between commercial speech and other speech—and the legal restrictions covering each. Look at the role of government agencies that oversee media, including the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, and the regulations they have instituted at different points in history.
  • Historical re-creations of the news—Students might demonstrate their understanding of an important historical event by creating a newspaper front page (or hypothetical TV newscast) from a particular city on a particular date, including headlines and news stories, photographs, sidebars, and even advertisements that would reflect the time period. Or different groups of students might create newspaper pages or newscasts from different cities that would reflect different perspectives and sides of a controversy (e.g., a Northern versus Southern newspaper during the Civil War; TV newscasts from Honolulu and Tokyo about the bombing of Pearl Harbor or Hiroshima).

Go Forward

While creating your lesson plan make sure to look back at what you have learned during this course. You have learned to define media and media literacy. You learned what key questions to ask when trying to decode a piece of media. You have been shown how to connect media literacy education to your curriculum. And you have had the opportunity to look at how to incorporate media literacy education and decoding in a lesson plan.

The time has come for you to chose a piece of media that you use in your classroom already and award your students the opportunity to learn to decode it. In doing so, you will teach them not only to decode media in your Social Studies Class, but you will help to teach them to decode media in their daily life.

Proceed to: Lesson Five: Self-reflection


Rogow, Faith & Scheibe, Cyndy (2012). "A Teacher's Guide to Media Literacy: Critical Thinking in a Multimedia World." Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin, a Sage Company




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