Sunday, January 31, 2010 FTC's New Advertising Literacy Website

Everywhere you look, you see advertisements—not just on TV and online, but on buses, buildings, and scoreboards. Many ads target kids ages 8 to 12. Do your students have the critical thinking skills to understand ads, what they’re saying, and what they want kids to do? To help you equip your students with these valuable skills, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, has launched a campaign to teach kids about advertising. The Admongo campaign will help kids learn to ask three key “critical thinking” questions when they encounter advertising:

* Who is responsible for the ad?
* What is the ad actually saying?
* What does the ad want me to do?

The Admongo campaign features: a game-based student website at; sample ads for the classroom; and a free curriculum. Together, these tools will help you build ad literacy skills in the classroom and beyond!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Teaching Students to Write Creative Non-fiction for Video

Here is a blog post with great advice and resources for teachers who want to engage their students in crafting and producing great videos.

Popularity of graphic novels just keeps growing

Younger readers seemed to have an insatiable desire for these lavishly illustrated books, sending librarians and chain bookstores scrambling to meet demand. The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly were regularly reviewing them. Hollywood began making movies based on them. Now academia embraces and celebrates them, too. At Stanford University, graphic novels are not just discussed, but also produced by students. In a class given by Andrea Lunsford, sophomores study the genre's transformations over the years and analyze works of the giants among its creators. Details here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New iPad Might Breathe Life into Digital Comics

So imagine your favorite comic book or graphic novel on a gorgeous 9.7-inch LED backlit display instead of the dinky 3.5-inch one on the iPhone or iPod Touch. It would look fantastic. Perhaps the only issue would be that publishers would have to reformat them to fit in the new screen size--most American comic book pages measure 6.625 by 10.25 inches--but that doesn't sound so bad. And if you could rotate them, or view two pages at once, that would be even better. More from C-NET

5 Ways to Enhance Instruction With Digital Narratives

Over the last decade, advances in technology have made dreams of ubiquitous access to digital media a reality, both on the Web and off. From inexpensive cameras to iPods to cell phones to integrated Webcams, capturing, editing, and sharing digital audio and video has become push-button easy. And that, according to University of Central Florida (UCF) professors Robert Kenny and Glenda Gunter, is good news for K-12 educators.

Taking Advantage of Popular Culture

I have recently revised three popular resources on The Media Literacy Clearinghouse web site:
Using Super Bowl Ads In The Classroom (the game is Sunday February 7)
Diet (Weight Loss) Advertising
Marketing the Movies During Awards Season (the Oscars are Sunday March 7)

Take a look; share with a colleague; let me know what you think.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Workshops to Support PBS' Digital Nation (Feb. 2)

Renee Hobbs and her team at the Media Education Lab (Temple University) have just announced online workshops in support of the themes in the upcoming PBS/Frontline special: Digital Nation (February 2, check local listings). According to the press release: parents and teachers can now develop more confidence in understanding the complex digital culture that children and young people are growing up with, by utilitzing these resources.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

More than 100 Editorial Cartoon Lesson Plans

Cartoons for the Classroom is a service of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. Cartoons in the Classroom offers more than one hundred lesson plans based on editorial cartoons created by the members of the AAEC. Each lesson plan is available as free pdf download. As you might expect, most of the lessons deal with current political and economic topics, but you will also find some lessons that are not time sensitive. More details here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Students Can Build Digital Cameras, Focus On Science Lessons

NY1 (a cable news channel) and its parent company (Time Warner Cable) have partnered in a program to highlight learning through science, technology, engineering and math. Columbia University is spearheading a project to get students worldwide to construct digital cameras while learning sophisticated lessons about science, art and culture. Details here.

Video Game Prepares Texas District for State Test

One school district in Texas is expanding the use of the DimensionM educational video games to seven middle schools and 15 charter schools. The expansion is part of an effort by the district to find innovative ways to help its students prepare for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) standardized test that all eighth-graders must pass in order to advance to the ninth grade. More here.

Technology gives kids constant media access

eSchool News examines the just-released Kaiser Youth/Media report (Generation M2) and examines it from the educators' perspective: "Educators face a growing challenge in trying to compete for their students’ attention with near-constant access to entertainment media outside of school."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Future of News: New PBS Series

Check local listings because this series has started on many PBS stations around the country. The series was recorded at the Newseum in Washington DCRead about the series here.

Episode One: Global News
The state of the news business is explored in this series, which opens with what the changing media landscape may mean for news. Guests include Ann Curry (NBC News) and Charles Sennott (GlobalPost). Frank Sesno hosts.

Episode Two: Political Reporting
Sam Donaldson (ABC News) and Jim VandeHei (Politico) on political reporting, the Internet and talk radio.

Future episodes are scheduled and broadcast as they are produced.

Are Millennials Cursed: The Jury Is Still Out

Jeremy Rifkin (writing in IN THESE TIMES): For years critics have feared that while the Internet connected more people in networks, the new social affiliations would be less intimate and more superficial than those garnered in traditional face-to-face social discourse. But contrary to the idea that spending time in cyberspace further isolates individuals in a technologically mediated world, studies show just the opposite to be the case, at least for a majority of people.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Does Texting Help Student Literacy Skills?

According to a new study, reported by the BBC, kids' texting on mobile phones is associated with strong literary skills. "If we are seeing a decline in literacy standards among young children, it is in spite of text messaging, not because of it," Clare Wood, reader in developmental psychology, told the BBC.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

VA Third Graders Use Kindle In The Classroom

Third-graders in one Virginia district may be among the first students ages 8 and 9 to use Amazon Kindle e-readers in the classroom. The technology allows readers of all levels to participate in reading groups and read independently, with functions such as text-to-speech audio helping struggling readers decipher difficult words. "It sort of levels the playing field," one teacher said.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Educators debate Internet changes to language, grammar

Since the first web browser appeared on computer screens in 1994, the Internet has radically changed global communication. With instant access to messaging and email, the ability to circulate commentary and opinion has revolutionized the way people communicate. This has had an affect on language and writing, but people still debate the scope of these changes, and whether or not they're for the better. Details here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Want Better Journalism? Boost News Literacy

Excerpt: There’s a lesson here for all of us who worry about the quality of journalism today: Citizens armed with the power of discernment will do more to rescue journalism than any dozen panels of veteran editors ruminating about their golden years in power and musing about better business models. Unfortunately, most Millennial Generation students have been deprived of a good civics class. That's where the News Literacy curriculum comes in. It aims to sharpen their critical thinking skills, reteach the history of America’s fourth estate, and start students on the lifetime search for reliable information.

Mobile devices are for snacking and print is for dining (Society for News Design)

from Society for News Design via
In the middle, then, might be the tablet. For that device, "mobility and connectivity are important," says Roger Fidler, who had a tablet prototype 15 years ago. "Any device that does not allow for easy Internet access, whether that is a tablet or an e-reader, does not have much chance of success."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New (teacher guide) Critical Thinking, Core Curriculum and Using Print and Digital Newspapers

In support of Newspaper In Education Week (celebrated annually during the first full school week of March), the Newspaper of America Assn. Foundation has created a teacher's guide for in school use. The teacher’s guide, which is aligned with national learning standards, features a five-subject approach that takes advantage of the wide range of topics covered by newspapers. Topics include financial literacy, nutrition, the environment, character education and information technology. Lessons can be taught individually or as a unit.

Teachers Shake up Shakespeare with Digital Media

From Edutopia magazine: Rap and film bring the Bard's characters to life.

Teachers' Digital Media Use Increases

eSchool News reports: Teachers are making significant progress in adopting digital media and using the internet for instruction, according to findings from a new survey released Jan. 5 by PBS. The survey, “Digitally Inclined,” aims to provide information about instructional needs and trends to education leaders, policy makers, and the media industry.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

School House Hip Hop Brings Popular Music to the Classroom

Amid the war between parents and popular music, a compromise has been drawn in schools across the country as rap music makes its debut in classrooms. The Flocabulary program, an educational hip hop music series, has been introduced as a means of learning facts and rote memorization. Details here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Screen Time & Literacy (webcast)

In this roundtable webcast discussion, three experts discuss what the growing exposure to media (television, websites, and video games) means for a child's literacy development. Tips on evaluating the real educational value of a program or website, "actively watching" TV with your child, integrating media into the classroom, using media to motivate reluctant learners -- and much more -- are tackled in this lively conversation. The presentation also includes recommended resources and discussion questions.

iPod Touch Tested As Tool for Improving Fluency, Comprehension Skills

Third-graders at a California elementary school are taking part in a pilot program to use iPod Touch devices for math and reading lessons to help them improve their English comprehension and fluency. Students listen to a book recording on the devices, focusing on pauses and intonation in the audio, then record themselves reading the same book, with the recordings archived to monitor progress. Students also use the devices in math lessons, where they are challenged to solve a series of problems as quickly as they can.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Linking The Literacies: Teaching & Learning In A Digital Age

This media literacy summer institute occurs July 26-30 on the campus of Appalachian State University in Boone NC. Program schedule and application are available on Dr. David Considine's ASU website.

Friday, January 8, 2010

NY Students Use Smart Phones for Core Subject Lessons

Fifth-graders in a New York state school are part of a pilot program to use smart phones -- which are linked to the Internet but cannot be used to make calls or send text messages -- as mini-computers to find and share information throughout their core-subject classes. During a recent science lesson, students demonstrated their knowledge of the properties of light by creating digital drawings of transparent, translucent and opaque objects, which were then uploaded to the teacher's computer for review.

Using Newspapers to Improve Reading

A North Carolina teacher uses newspapers in the classroom to help her gifted middle-school English students improve their reading and vocabulary skills by prompting discussion about current national and world events. "It's the stimulus for pertinent conversation," Cynthia McFadden said. "We should never underestimate our kids just because they're in middle school. It's really bringing what's happening in the world into this little classroom."

Monday, January 4, 2010

Students and Their Internet Search Strategies

My issue (Jan/Feb 2010) of "Multimedia & Internet@Schools" magazine arrived in today's mail. There is an excellent article entitled "What Kids Know (and don't know) About Technology." It is not yet on the publisher's web site, but you might look for it in the coming week or so. While doing a little digging, I came across an ed tech coordinator's blog complaining about students and their inability to search adequately. Embedded in this blog is a short video featuring a GOOGLE specialist on how to use their search engine. Lastly, Teacher Librarian has an appropriate article about all of this, including some strategies to help students in their searches.

Digital Nation: PBS Special in February

FRONTLINE: Digital Nation (PBS)
National Airdate/time: February 2, 9pm-10:30pm ET
Program description:
Over a single generation, the Web and digital media have remade nearly every aspect of modern culture, transforming the way we work, learn and connect in ways that we're only beginning to understand. FRONTLINE producer Rachel Dretzin (“Growing Up Online”) teams up with one of the leading thinkers of the digital age, Douglas Rushkoff (“The Persuaders,” “Merchants of Cool”), to continue her exploration of life on the virtual frontier. The film is the product of a unique collaboration with visitors to the "Digital Nation" Web site, who for the past year have been able to react to the work in progress and post their own stories online. Dretzin and her team report from the front lines of digital culture — from love affairs blossoming in virtual worlds, to the thoroughly wired classrooms of the future, to military bases where the Air Force is fighting a new form of digital warfare. Along the way, they begin to map the critical ways that technology is transforming us, and what we may be learning about ourselves in the process.
Program homepage

Nonprofit offers game-design training for students, teachers

School Library Journal reports: "Increasingly, educators see game design as a gateway to other disciplines, and the literacy skills developed through creating video games can enhance the learning process overall. That’s prompted Global Kids to sponsor game-design training at various institutions."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Why Twitter Will Endure

Culture critic David Carr writes in the New York Times: "...has Twitter turned my brain to mush? No, I’m in narrative on more things in a given moment than I ever thought possible, and instead of spending a half-hour surfing in search of illumination, I get a sense of the day’s news and how people are reacting to it in the time that it takes to wait for coffee at Starbucks. Yes, I worry about my ability to think long thoughts — where was I, anyway? — but the tradeoff has been worth it."