Media Literacy In the K-12 Classroom
reviewed by Chelsea Attwell
As a Media Literacy teacher for primary students I am always interested in teacher resources targeted at media educators. Media Literacy In the K-12 Classroom by Frank W. Baker delivers experienced media educators some interesting lesson ideas and resources with some drawbacks.
The book contains six chapters. With the exception of the first two chapters, medical which provide an introduction to media education and theory, sildenafil each chapter focuses on reading and deconstructing a specific media text (e.g., reading visual images, advertising, moving images, representation/bias and stereotype). Baker’s introduction explains the importance of using authentic media texts with students, and not manufactured media literacy workbooks. This is an insightful tip because students should have multiple and authentic opportunities to read, analyze and interpret real media forms.
However, Baker also mentions that when teaching media literacy, educators should begin with visual literacy, then move to advertising and finally moving images. I feel that this approach can be constraining. To help students understand a particular text form, provide a discussion on the codes and conventions and this will allow for an integration of multiple text forms. Also, exposing students to diverse texts at the same time allows them to gain richer insights and provides a more authentic learning experience to better prepare them for understanding media in their everyday lives. For example, while watching a sporting event the fan is often able to go online and experience a “second screen.”
A plus to Baker’s text is that it is a quick and easy read for busy teachers. However, he is writing for an American audience and therefore he references American curriculum standards. In Baker’s lesson descriptions he mentions different media texts. These texts are often based in American culture. For example, in his lesson description on reading photographs he uses several examples of photographs from past American presidents. Canadian teachers will have to look beyond this and reflect on how to use Canadian content.
Alternatively, Baker does not completely leave out Canadian Media education because in Chapter two he references The Association for Media Literacy original Eight Key Concepts for Media Literacy (Baker, 32). In addition he also cites the Ontario Language Curriculum definition for Media Literacy and states that it is one of his favorites! (Baker, 3).
As mentioned in the introduction of this review, I would recommend this text for more experienced media educators, only because throughout Baker’s text he does not consistently provide a detailed explanation of “how-to” teach a particular lesson around a media text. He references the media triangle and a range of questions pertaining to text, audience and production, however he mostly gives brief summaries of lesson activity ideas.
Some chapters worth mentioning include chapter four, which focuses on advertising and Baker gives an effective summary of a lesson on how to read cereal boxes. Similarly, in chapter five, Moving Images, he details how to deconstruct a television commercial. In this summary he gives questions for students to focus on before, during and after. As well, he asks the teacher to guide the students’ attention towards the language of video production by looking at camera angles, lighting, music and setting. Essentially he is taking students through a series of focused viewing activities that allows the teacher to draw the students’ attention towards important elements of text, audience and production depending on the learning goal.
At the end of each chapter Baker provides readers with a list of websites and books which either further support the topic or suggested readings to gain more information. He also references his website, www.frankwbaker.com numerous times throughout the text. Upon visiting his website you do not get an immediate link to curriculum resources. To access the resources listed in the text you must enter the URL frankwbaker.com followed by a slash and the particular different topic. This does not provide the reader with an easy one-stop access to his resources.
Absent from this text is any mention of assessment and evaluation resources for the teacher. Baker offers a few “worksheets” for students to use while examining different texts but he does not explicitly mention using rubrics, success criteria or learning goals. Moreover, I feel it would be beneficial for Baker to empathize the importance of reflection and allowing students to think about their learning throughout a unit. He does mention the importance of integrating media literacy into other subject areas, however he briefly does so and references American strands in education, therefore Canadian teachers will have to seek other resources to explore this topic.
The last chapter disappoints and it does not provide teachers with strategies to develop thoughtful lesson activities that further develop students’ critical thinking skills that pertain to the topic of bias and representation. However, because media education inherently considers these topics the preceding chapters do contain some opportunity for these questions.
In summary, this resource provides teachers with some good starting points in their media program. For those looking to add to their existing library this book is an adequate addition. The text contains lesson activities and ideas for students from K-12. Reading this text may give you some quick tips and add to your repertoire of skills.