Today marks the 77th Anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of over 120,000 people of Japanese descent, many of them citizens, from the West Coast.
I work in a school district that was once home to a hard-working community of Japanese-American farmers, who transformed the region into beautiful, productive strawberry fields. Following the signing of Executive Order 9066, the history of the Elk Grove-Florin region was abruptly and forever changed. The forced removal and incarceration of over 120,000 citizens marked a chapter in our nation’s history when justice failed an entire group of people. To document their stories, colleague Kathleen Watt and I developed and maintain the Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project.
“The film exposes the lies used to justify the decision and the cover-up that went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. ALTERNATIVE FACTS will also examine the parallels to the current climate of fear, targeting of immigrant communities, and similar attempts to abuse the powers of the government.” AlternativeFacts.com
We look forward to an upcoming screening of the Alternative Facts documentary. As always, when new resources surface, we revisit our current lessons and resources to decide where they can best extend teaching and learning on issues of social justice.
Alternative facts are not new…but today they are difficult to spot, easier to spread, and harder to control. We are always looking for curriculum ties that will make history relevant to our students. Students would be hard pressed to go a single day without hearing the terms “fake news” or “alternative facts” on social media or in the news. Additionally, they often view history as something that happens in history books, not in their communities. We are predicting that the above resource will connect our Executive Order 9066 lesson to media literacy, and in the process, help students make the connection between what was “then and there” to “here and now.”
MediaWise is part of the Google News Initiative, funded by Google.org, and aims to teach 1 million teenagers how to spot fake news on the internet by 2020, with at least half of them coming from undeserved or low-income communities.
The centerpiece of the project is a new curriculum being written by grant partner Stanford History Education Group that will be available to schools across the country in the fall of 2019. Stanford is writing this curriculum after studying how professional fact-checkers, college students and historians navigate digital information. The foundation of the Stanford lessons is built on skills that professional fact-checkers use after Stanford discovered that fact-checkers and journalists are more critical and think very differently about what they read on the internet and how they sort through misleading or flat-out false information.”
Students-teaching-students is a powerful teaching model. We have included a video in the Explore section of a teacher talking to other teachers about fact-checking and lateral reading. We would love to replace this video with a student-created video, slideshow and/or infographic to show what lateral reading looks like from the perspective and experience of a student fact-checker. Go for it!”
We extend the above invitation to students across the globe.
Media Literacy / Digital Citizenship 4 Themes by Elk Grove Unified School District is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its shoes on.”
Nope, the above quote is not from Mark Twain, despite being commonly attributed to him … and I admit – until just recently – to being one of the misquoters. For insight on how quotes become misquotes, I recommend Niraj Chokshi’s New York Times article That Wasn’t Mark Twain: How a Misquotation Is Born.
Misquotes are just a small slice of an enormous bank of online misinformation (Dictionary.com’s 2018 word of the year). For educators, I think the year has brought a greater awareness that we all need to be media literacy teachers, no matter what grade levels or subject areas we teach.
I started the year by organizing resources in my Media Literacy in a Post-Truth Era site. (Note: post truth was the 2016 Oxford Dictionary word of the year.) Several months ago, I began gathering resources on a possible misinformation trend that emerged in 2017 and continued to spread throughout 2018: deepfakes. Like any technology, deepfakes can be used for good or for ill. Computer scientist Supasorn Suwajanakorn explains in the TED Talk below how a deepfake is created — “and the steps being taken to fight against its misuse.”
We all need to get into the habit of “putting on our skepticals” (and a few other tips from BrainPop’s Tim and Moby) and recognize when to check if a person really said the words we’re hearing in a video.
I’m ending the year with the realization that actually “a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its shoes on.” Jonathan Swift (sort of)
Over a holiday meal, I listened to an example of a low-tech misinformation story. Last summer, my daughter traveled to Fergus Falls, Minnesota, with her boyfriend to attend his cousin’s wedding. Two weeks ago, the cousin, Michele Anderson, made national and international news: The Relotius Scandal Reaches a Small Town in America. Michele and fellow Fergus Falls resident John Krohn fact checked Claas Relotius, the DER SPIEGEL journalist who published a “tendentious, malicious portrait of the small, rural town. The reporting contained so many falsehoods that Anderson and Krohn limited themselves to citing just the ‘”top 11 most absurd lies.”‘
We all need to be fact checkers, willing to challenge and confront the spread of misinformation.
High on my list of 2019 resolutions is a commitment to curate, create and share innovative media literacy resources, best practices, and lessons. I hope you will join me.
A highlight of my week was attending the California Department of Education’s first Media & Information Literacy Summit here in Sacramento. Below are my top takeaways from a very full day of excellent keynotes, panel discussions, and a resource fair.
Opening Comments: Jennifer Howerter, California Department of Education (CDE) – Jennifer started by going over a few definitions that would be central to our summit conversations:
Media Literacy – “The ability to encode and decode the symbols transmitted via media and the ability to synthesize, analyze and produce mediated messages.” NAMLE
Digital Literacy – “Digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.” ALA
Digital Citizenship – “Being kind, respectful and responsible, and participating in activities that make the world a better place.” ISTE
Information Literacy – I like this broad definition, which was new to me, from ALA:
Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning. An information literate individual is able to:
Determine the extent of information needed
Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
Evaluate information and its sources critically
Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base
Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally”
Welcome – Deputy Superintendent Tom Adams, CDE – Deputy Superintendent Adams opened by asking “Has the Internet changed the role of the teacher?” He referenced Stanford Professor Sam Wineburg’s findings that “we can’t assume fluency with media unless we ensure skills of healthy skeptics,” and also included several of Wineburg’s thought-provoking questions and statements:
“Since 2016, with the barrage of information and instruments for sending the information, do we want pre-selected information? Or do we want to individualize our own? We’re in a new context for educators. Students don’t lack media skills, they just need to add to the toolkit. With the California Standards, all core subject matter requires an inquiry-based approach.”
A Superintendent’s Perspective – Encinitas Superintendent Tim Baird, Encinitas Union School District – Loved Tim Baird’s opening quote:
Great journeys all start with driving questions,” … followed by his opening questions “What if we shifted from emphasis on teaching to emphasis on learning? What if we allowed students to Acquire, Analyze, Apply. Rather than start with content, start with process skills….Learning comes first – ahead of teaching. AAA leads to student dreams.”
Baird ended his keynote with a reminder that Media/Information Literacy is a basic human right, referencing UNESCO’s Five Laws of Media and Information Literacy in critical times.
From the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) .
For the Love of Learning – Director of Literacies, Outreach, and Libraries Glen Warren, Encinitas Union School District – I’ve met Glen Warren several times in the last few years, thanks to Jane Lofton’s invitations to attend the Librarian’s Dinner at the annual Spring CUE Conference. But until Wednesday’s Summit, I had never heard Glen present. Oh, my, he is an amazing speaker, who combines insights into changes needed in education with a wonderful sense of humor. I love laughing while learning!
Right off the bat, Glen had us thinking about the difference between telling student to “Go search that vs. Go research that!” His model for ramping up students’ research skills is A E I O U (see graphic below):
AEIOU graphic from Glen Warren.
Luckily for Summit attendees, in the afternoon, Glen stepped on the stage for a second presentation: Curious Skeptics Formulating Questions.
Image in Public Domain – From Wikimedia Commons
I couldn’t find the same shopping cart image Glen used to symbolize “shopping hungry,” which I know (all too well) is never a good idea. But sending students out on the Internet without a list of questions is an equally bad idea. By jump starting the search/research process with an initial list of questions, students start with an intent. I love some of these well-known phrases Glen had us rethinking:
Claim, Evidence, Reasoning – it’s the mantra. But how about we start with some good reasoning. Response to Intervention (high brow) – change to Response to Inspiration.
Essential Question > Essential Student Questions
Begin with the end mind > Begin with the endless in mind
In short, “we are killing students’ capacity to ask questions.” This issue is not limited to K-12, as illustrated in the video Glen showed of Stanford students sharing why they don’t like to ask questions. (If I can find this video, I’ll come back and include it in this post.)
We need to start teaching and encouraging students to ask questions, a skill that is included across the Common Core Standards (i.e, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.K.3), NGSS (Asking questions and defining problems in K–2 builds on prior experiences and progresses to simple descriptive questions, Ask and answer questions in order to seek help, get information, or clarify something that is not understood.), the Model School Library Standards for California Public Schools, and the California English Language Arts Framework (Students should have many opportunities to creatively respond to texts, produce texts, develop and deliver presentations, and engage in research to explore their own questions.)
Bottom line: “If students are allowed to develop their own questions, they are more likely to be engaged in finding the answers.” Such a simple, powerful strategy to teaching and learning – and probably my top takeaway from the summit.
California Global Education Project (Subject Matter Project) – Executive Director Emily M. Schell, Ed. D., San Diego State – As a longtime, proud member of the California Writing Project, one of nine Subject Matter Projects across state, I was delighted that Emily Schell would be presenting (in place of Dr. Monica Bulger). She drew the audience in from the start by sharing a story of her own son’s learning and career journey, and then presented a compelling case for the need to promote media and information literacy as a pathway to “global competence.”
Emily Schell #MAILS2018 Keynote. Image from @christhejourno
Global Education Summit Report – Published in 2016, has nine recommendations for California, with a focus on considering multiple perspectives, considering audience, engaging in civil discourse, and ending in a Call to Action! Wait! How did I not know about this report?!?
Emily’s work with the California Global Education Project (formerly known as the California International Studies Program) builds on the work I am currently doing with digital citizenship initiatives. I am excited to connect with the CGEP group and learn more about their global citizenship projects.
The summit included three panel presentations, each with different members, with a different set of questions to address. Below is a sampling of questions and responses:
Question: How do we help students work through hyper-partisan media? Response: From Chris Nichols – NPR created Politifact California as a response. “Trust, but verify” (even when referring to NPR).
Question: How should we be rethinking schools? Responses: Establish a credential program for administrators that includes information literacy. CHANGE CREDENTIALING PROGRAMS! Teaching thinking should be at the top. Capstone projects should be included at every grade level. Embed research across the curriculum – so no kids miss out.
Question: How does media/info literacy support student engagement and empowerment? Responses: Media literacy can help bring awareness to a variety of health issues. Kids need to analyze information they’re finding online; they need to be “health literate.” A Health Framework will be released in 2019. Suicide prevention and mental health issues will be included. Check out the Directing Change contest, a venue for kids to create and share Public Service Announcements (PSAs) about critical health topics.
Question: How can we help students understand bias in media? Response:Tara Woodall – Have students google a current event (e.g., Colin Kaepernick). How is the same event depicted in different headlines? Here’s where connotation comes into play. Writing shouldn’t be a formula. Ethical use of information, such as following citation rules, happens naturally when students can carry it into their own writing. Tip: Team up writing teachers with statistics teachers.
Resource Fair Breakout Sessions
Sue Thotz, Common Sense
It’s always a treat to join Common Sense’sSue Thotz (Senior Program Manager, Education) at any event. Here’s a link to Sue’s Summit presentation: News and Media Literacy with Common Sense, which is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the amazing – and free – resources Common Sense provides for teachers, students, and parents on current topics connected to digital citizenship.
As co-director of my district’s Digital Citizenship program, I deeply appreciate always having Common Sense’s timely, content-rich lessons and resources to share with teachers. And did I mention that both Kathleen Watt (my #DigCit co-director) and I are both Common Sense Certified – as is our district. 🙂
KQED Like Common Sense, KQED also has a long history of providing resources to engage students (aimed at secondary students) in current topics, via KQED Learn, such as those listed below:
Deeper Dive (from Go Above the Noise) – Explore and then reflect. Students are able to share with other students within the KQED community.
Copyright & Creativity for Ethical Digital Citizens
Although they were not included in the schedule, two representatives from Copyrightandcreativity.org (AKA iKeepSafe) were in the audience and available during the breakout sessions, with a handout that provides a justification for teaching copyright: “In short, because students today are creators and publishers – so they need to understand the basic ground rules around creative work.” Check out the website for an excellent set of lessons, starting with kindergarten through high school, including a set of videos for secondary students.
Information Literacy Toolkit – Summit coordinator Jennifer Howerter took the stage again to share CDE’s newly released Media & Info Lit Toolkit: Collaborate in Common, “a free online toolkit filled with resources and current research that teachers, administrators, and parents can use to help support their efforts to advance media and information literacy and the implementation of California’s standards and frameworks.” I definitely plan to spend some time exploring this site and adding to the content.
What’s Next? Media Literacy in our Nation and the World – Tessa Jolls – The closing keynote speaker was Tessa Jolls (President, Center for Media Literacy). Tessa summarized beautifully both the importance of media literacy and the message I will integrate into future workshops:
Media literacy – It’s not a new subject to teach – but a new way to teach all subjects. It is a call to action!”
I’m very glad to have had the opportunity to attend the California Department of Education’s first Media and Information Literacy Summit. I appreciate CDE’s recognition that, increasingly, media and information literacy are critical skills in an age of misinformation. In reflecting on the expertise and energy of the speakers and panelists, the introduction to the Model School Library Standards, and the “Curious Septic” theme, start to finish, the Summit was well worth the $20 registration fee (which even included a box lunch). I am already looking forward to attending the 2019 Media and Information Literacy Summit.
“Media literacy is a constellation of life skills that are necessary for full participation in our media-saturated, information-rich society.” Renee Hobbs, Center for Media Literacy
In the eight years I have been co-directing my district’s digital citizenship program, new challenges and new resources have called for regular updates to our Digital Citizenship website, which is organized around four main themes: cyberbullying, digital footprint, intellectual property, online privacy.
EGUSD #DigCit logo
This school year, in recognition that we are living and teaching in a “post-truth” era, my co-director Kathleen Watt and I been gathering and curating resources to prepare students – and teachers – to deal with the escalating onslaught of fake news and disinformation. It was definitely time to integrate “media literacy” into our digital citizenship program and workshops.
So we were rather surprised – and disturbed – by social media scholar danah boyd’s recent SXSWEDU talk: What Hath We Wrought? We were not expecting her negative views on the value of teaching media literacy, even though she begins with a warning that the content may be provocative.
It has been validating to learn that other educators who are passionate about the need to teach media literacy have also found boyd’s message a bit off and are speaking out on where boyd is mistaken. A shout out to the three educators listed below for stepping up to a global microphone. I’ve included a snippet from each of their posts, along with the link, so you can read each post in its entirety, which I highly recommend doing. Each posts succinctly counters boyd’s points.
“boyd’s speech has unsettled me, but it has also made me believe more in the ways I have found to teach media literacy. Now back in my classroom, I see students grappling with bias, publishing important stories, reading the news on their phones through a variety of sources, and taking pride in the rising power of student voices. The complexity of the screen world doesn’t look so complex to me when I see real students working in a journalism classroom.”
“Oddly, boyd reduces media literacy to a superficial version of fact-checking and describes it as “fundamentally, a form of critical thinking that asks people to doubt what they see.” That makes her “nervous.” It would make me nervous, too – if that was what we actually did. It’s not.
Media literacy education doesn’t teach students to “doubt” what they see; it teaches students to interrogate what they see, and to do it routinely. We call it “inquiry.” That isn’t the same as doubting. And it’s not just a matter of semantics.”
“Media literacy education is a pedagogical approach that aims to be continually responsive to the ever-changing media, technology and cultural environment. A visit to the annual National Council of Teachers of English conference would enable boyd to recognize the amazing work of middle school and high school English teachers who explore media literacy through film analysis, analysis of social media, making media with a smartphone, digital storytelling, the study of memes, fandom, reality TV, celebrity culture and more. Media literacy competencies are embedded in the Common Core Standards and they promote academic achievement….
…Whether students are analyzing and creating hip-hop, examining propaganda, creating public service announcements, composing Scratch animation, or studying the patterns of representation in Disney films, they’re engaged in a learning process that creates opportunities for dialogue and reflection on the choices we make as creators and consumers.”
Eight years later, the four themes still remain at the heart of our digital citizenship program. In thinking through a program update, we realized that media literacy was not a separate 5th focus, but rather the overarching framework for digital/global citizenship. Media literacy is the key to unlocking the critical thinking skills needed to confront online bullying, to build and maintain a positive digital footprint, to respect and create/remix intellectual property, and to protect online privacy.
In recognition that we are living in a “post-truth” era, rampant with “fake news,” and that we all need media literacy skills, I’ve been gathering resources, collaborating with colleagues, and creating presentations geared to both students and staff. I’m adding to my Media Literacy site almost daily, with a weekly featured resource.
For the past 10 years, I’ve been co-directing my district’s digital citizenship program with my colleague Kathleen Watt. We’ve recently been discussing ideas for merging media literacy into our digital citizenship resources, with possibly a new logo coming soon.
A recent article by Keegan Korf, Embracing Our Digital Footprints and Guiding Students to Curate and Reshape Their Own, has us rethinking how we’ve been rolling out our program. Until now, our focus has been solely on students. While we provide a wide range of resources for teachers and parents to use with their students and their children, Keegan’s infographic (below) serves as a timely reminder that we should also be providing resources to help adults be aware of the need to be role models and to build and maintain positive digital footprints.
Infographic created by Keegan Korf
It’s not difficult to find excellent videos for students, such as Netsmartz’ 2 Kinds of Stupid, on how quickly your online reputation can destroy future job opportunities, scholarship options, and more.
But what about digital footprint videos for adults? I’m wondering how many talented, young teachers applying for positions in school districts across the nation will not even make it to the first interview due to something they’ve posted on social media. TED Talks such as Megan’s You Posted What?! could help “xennials” or anyone just entering the job market to stop and think before posting, retweeting, etc.
Over the next few months, I would like to gather examples of the many ways educators are modeling Standard 3 – with a special focus on 3a. If you have stories, infographics, TED Talks, lessons, articles, etc., to illustrate how an educator is actively making “positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibiting empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community,” please share by leaving a comment.
Digital citizenship is often cited as the fastest changing subject in the K-12 curriculum. Thinking back 10 years to 2007, when I first began rolling out a digital citizenship program for my district, we were using iSafe, a curriculum that focused on keeping students safe from others. “Stranger danger” was a big concern, with much media coverage – and a bit of hype.
By 2008, we were concerned not only with keeping students safe from others, but also with keeping them safe from each other and from themselves. By now both the federal government and our state government had started issuing legal mandates, including the federal E-Rate/CIPA requirements. Through a district task force (which had morphed from the Internet Safety Task Force to the Digital Citizenship Task Force), we made a commitment that all students would be firmly grounded in what it means to be active, contributing (digital) citizens in all the communities to which they belong, within and beyond the school day. The Task Force agreed that out of multiple topics related to digital citizenship, we would focus on four themes: Taking a stand against cyberbullying, building a positive digital footprint, protecting privacy, and respecting intellectual property.
We encouraged – and then required – that all schools teach digital citizenship, using whatever resources and teaching practices worked best for their school community and culture. For those who preferred having ready-to-go lessons at their fingertips, we recommended Common Sense Media’s k-12 curriculum. We even provided a suggested scope-and-sequence – which, to avoid an overload of content, did not include Common Sense Media’s media literacy lessons.
Times have changed. In an age of “fake news,” media literacy should be embedded across the curriculum.
I had the good fortune to be invited to Google last Monday to join a team of Googlers and Google Certified Innovators to explore the Be Internet Awesome package and to participate in highly interactive panel and group discussions on the critical need to be teaching digital citizenship skills in the 2017-2018 school year and, as you can see from the video below, the importance of including parents in the conversations.
At the heart of the Be Internet Awesome curriculum is Interland, a “playful browser-based game that makes learning about digital safety interactive and fun.” Award-winning YA author John Green, has even joined the Google team and recorded messages for the Be Internet Awesome Challenge, a video series aimed at igniting conversations in the classroom and at home too on what it means to be smart, alert, strong, kind, and brave online; in other words, how to “BeInternetAwesome.”
As we head into the 2017-2018 school year, I want to acknowledge my appreciation for Common Sense Media, the Google team, and other national organizations, including:
It would be difficult to read a newspaper, listen to a news broadcast, or open any social media site without seeing some reference to “fake news.” NPR NewsHour’s recent interview How online hoaxes and fake news played a role in the election highlights this growing concern. There is definitely a need to bring media literacy into classrooms.
The Common Core State Standards call for media literacy:
“To be ready for college, workforce training, and life in a technological society, students need the ability to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, and report on information and ideas, to conduct original research in order to answer questions or solve problems, and to analyze and create a high volume and extensive range of print and nonprint texts in media forms old and new.” Common Core ELA Standards
However, since the standards do not come wrapped in a curriculum package, it is up to each district to provide some clarity on what media literacy looks like in our K-12 classrooms. Thankfully, the list of resources for teaching media literacy is growing (see resource list at end of post).
From NAMLE (National Association for Media Literacy Education): “Media literacy is the ability to ACCESS, ANALYZE, EVALUATE, CREATE, and ACT using all forms of communication.”
In addition to Bill’s resources, I’d like to add the voices of students speaking out on the role of media literacy, via Canada’s Media Literacy Now site:
Similar to the above-listed definitions, the Ontario Ministry of Education defines media literacyas
“…helping students develop an informed and critical understanding of the nature of mass media, the techniques used by them, and the impact of these techniques. More specifically, it is education that aims to increase the students’ understanding and enjoyment of how the-media work, how they produce meaning, how they are organized, and how they construct reality. Media Literacy also aims to provide students with the ability to create media products.”
How about some resources for teaching media literacy?
I hope these resources will be useful to you and your students, especially following an extremely contentious election year. As always, if you have resources to add or classroom practices to share, please contribute to the conversation by leaving a comment.
#3 – Khan Academy and the Effectiveness of Science videos – Since the Khan Academy is included in the above infographic, I re-watched a YouTube video posted by Leila Dibble to the Merit 2011 ning (I’ll be blogging more about the Merit program, which I’ll be participating in during July). This intriguing video explores “students’ common misconceptions in a video alongside the scientific concepts has been shown to increase learning by increasing the amount of mental effort students expend while watching it.” Seems like a perfect inquiry-based project in the making for high school science teachers to involve students in documenting their prior knowledge/understandings of a concept.
News 10’s Nick Monacelli’s September SECC session on Building a News Story was outstanding! And the good news for teachers – across grade levels and subject areas – who were not able to join us live at Channel 10 is that you and your students now have access to the entire presentation:
Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable. As in the past, they are inextricably linked with particular histories, life possibilities and social trajectories of individuals and groups. Twenty-first century readers and writers need to
Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments”
Many thanks to SECC and cameraman Doug Niva for hosting this wonderful resource.