Thursday, December 20, 2012

New Gender Equality/Media Lessons Unveiled

In partnership with USA TODAY Education, SeeJane has unveiled a new series of lessons focused on gender, self-image and equality. This eight lesson curriculum introduces topics like media and bullying in the context of gender equality.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Teaching With Visual Literacy In Mind

Visual Literacy proponent/author Lynell Burmark explains why the use of images is so important in the classroom and how it can help teachers meet the challenges of getting through the curriculum and engaging students in skills and content they'll actually remember and apply after the test.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Tribute to Media Literacy Advocate David Considine

After more than thirty years advocating for and advancing the state of media literacy education in the United States, Dr. David Considine, professor at Appalachian State University and creator and coordinator of the Graduate Program in Media Literacy, retired this year (2012).  Read the rest of the tribute here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Using Film to Teach Common Core Skills

This secondary English teacher makes a convincing case for why ELA teachers should teach with and about film in order to reach many of the goals and objectives of the new Common Core Standards.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Why computer literacy should begin in grade school

Schools don't spend enough time teaching students the basic functions of a computer, such as file management, but expect students to complete assignments on a computer, educator Sheena Vaidyanathan writes in this blog post. Vaidyanathan argues that basic computer science lessons -- such as how to save a file so that it doesn't get lost on the computer -- should begin in grade school. "In today’s world, one may argue that this is more important than learning about rock formations," writes Vaidyanathan, who teaches 3D design and computer programming in California.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Anna Karenina: A New Take On A Classic

I've just seen director Joe Wright's version of "Anna Karenina" written for the screen by Tom Stoppard.  In my opinion it will receive nominations (and probably wins)  for Golden Globes & Academy Awards for both Art Direction and Costume Design.

Both director and screenwriter were interviewed recently on
PBS' Charlie Rose program.

In the lobby of my theatre was this huge tri-fold brochure, detailing the story, a chart of the characters and their relationships to one another, and features on both costume design 
and production design.

Entertainment Weekly recently previewed the lavish production as did The Hollywood Reporter.

Random House has just released Stoppard's screenplay in book form and the script is also available
on the web.

There is also a
Book-to-Film Reading Group Guide available to download.

Monday, November 19, 2012

News Photo/Writing Activity

I am pleased to share this activity I conducted at the Conference on English Leadership. It starts with a news photo and involves having different groups assume differing roles in journalism. Since the conference theme was writing, this activity asks participants to write, perhaps in ways they've not done previously.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Film Analysis (Session at NCTE 2012)

On Friday November 16, I had the great privilege of joining fellow media educators Faith Rogow and Cyndy Scheibe on a panel entitled Visual Literacy: Reading For Meaning in a Multimedia World. My part of the panel was an introduction to film analysis. Since many of you teach film, and many more were not able to attend, I have uploaded my presentation to share.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Teaching Media Literacy With Toy Commercials

As Holiday 2012 approaches, parents and educators have another one of those “teachable moments.” Using toy commercials in the classroom is a great way to jump-start media literacy education.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fake Hurricane Sandy Photos Stresses the Need For Visual & Information Literacy

In a short piece I posted today I said:
Already, dozens of images, purported to be of Hurricane Sandy descending on New York City, have made their way onto the Internet. And because of Twitter and retweeting the photos are quickly going viral.

The problem: most of them are fake. Read more here.


Friday, October 19, 2012

The Art of Creating The Presidential Campaign Ad

How are presidential campaign ads created?  Frank Baker looks at the process and explains some of the tricks used to create these highly persuasive messages.

Monday, October 15, 2012

New York Times Unveils New "Visual Literacy" Feature

The New York Times has announced, on its Learning Network site for educators, a new feature which invites readers/students to consider what's going in the picture (with caption and accompanying context missing). It will invite comments/responses/reactions moderated by pros from the Visual Thinking Strategies organization.

Teaching critical literacies for 21st century learning

In today’s technological age children are surrounded by popular culture texts in the mediasphere – on TV, on the radio, in books, newspapers and magazines, on the web. Children are bringing to school a range of literacies developed through interacting with the mediasphere as both consumers and produces. As educators we need to find a way to bridge the literacies children are bringing to school with them and the literacies they will need for living in the 21st century. Read more here.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Igniting Student Intellectual Curiosity With Media Literacy

Media educator Renee Hobbs, writing for the National Association of Secondary School Principals, argues that "fun and engaging digital and media literacy programs stretch students’ critical thinking skills while developing practical skills in using the computer and the Internet."

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Another Teachable Moment: Watching The Debates With Students

Four years ago, my colleague Karen Zill and I authored "Lights, Camera, Debate" an essay published in Cable In The Classroom magazine about the importance of how to watch a presidential debate.

Thanks to my colleagues at MiddleWeb, I have revised and 
updated this essay on the upcoming debates which includes a link to the original essay, as well as a revised debate watcher's worksheet.

The worksheet asks students to consider the setting, the techniques of persuasion, favorite phrases, rehearsed responses, camera cutaways, and post-debate analysis.

I hope you will share this with those who plan to engage students in the upcoming debates and the media coverage of same.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

CFP NAMLE Media Literacy Conference

The National Association for Media Literacy Education is currently inviting proposals for participation in its 2013 NAMLE Conference to be held in Torrance, CA July 12-13, 2013.

Acquiring Media Literacy and Using Technology

In this post, Larry Cuban offers two examples of lessons using new technologies, one in a Canadian elementary school on analyzing candy ads after students had read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and a Providence (RI) high school social studies lesson on World War II.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

NAMLE members honored with NCTE Media Literacy Award

The National Council for Teachers of English announced that long-time NAMLE member and former board member, Kara Clayton and NAMLE member Erin Ferris are the recipients of the Seventh Annual NCTE Media Literacy Award. Details from NAMLE.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Media Literacy & Politics: What Every Student Should Know

Future voters and civic leaders need to understand how political messages are crafted so that they can see through the spin, says media literacy expert Frank Baker. Details in this essay published on MiddleWeb.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

School Librarians: Allies in Teaching 21st Century Critical Thinking

Frank Baker's USA TODAY column focuses on the role of the school library media specialist and how they can become leaders in teaching 21st century media literacy education.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Teaching Kids How To Read The Media

Using examples from politics, advertising and news, this Edutopia author offers justficiation for why educators should consider popular culture and current events as the hooks to engagement, learning and more.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Do Teachers STILL Need To Be Told How to Use Film In The Classroom?

Apparently so.  Writing in Edutopia, this teacher (and education journalist) provides some common-sense tips on using film in the classroom.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Why We Should Care About Media Literacy

A blogger for Education Week interviews Frank Baker about the importance of media literacy in life and in education.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Importance of Media Literacy

An education blogger for Education Week finds that media and information literacy are two of the most important skills today's young people need to have and learn.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Teaching Persuasive Writing/Awareness Using Spam Emails

A UK teacher writes: "As an English teacher, it was important to zoom in on the persuasive language techniques used in spam emails. By the end of the unit pupils could tell you that spam emails use terms of endearment to hook in the recipient, include hyperlinks to news articles to make their stories more plausible, describe accidents or impending threats to generate sympathy, and specify tight deadlines to make the deal seem juicier."

Monday, July 16, 2012

■Social media enhances classroom interaction, communication

Jonathan Golding, a University of Kentucky psychology professor, in this blog post shares his experiences using Facebook to create a sense of community in large classes. Facebook changed the rules of communication in his class, Golding writes, by creating interaction among students and by providing him with a way to communicate with students outside of class. "Also, for the first time with my large class, I had a similar sense of community as I have enjoyed when teaching a small class," Golding writes.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Campaign 2012, The Media, & Media Literacy

Colleague Peter Guiterrez writes the pop culture blog for School Library Journal and this week, it's part one of an interview about the presidential campaign, media literacy and how library/media specialists can get involved in media education.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Media Curriculum Announced: Adobe Youth Voices Essentials

The Adobe Foundation and Discovery Education have announced ADOBE YOUTH VOICES a partnership to provide curriculum and resources to help educators weave digital media making into their teaching practice and actively engage students in gaining critical technology skills. Curriculum includes: Video Narratives; Techniques for Capturing Quality Audio; Animation and more.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Filmmaking As A Classroom Tool

A Howard County (MD) teacher works to integrate filmmaking into the curriculum for all interested students, not just those taking gifted-and-talented classes, to stimulate creativity and self-expression.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Remembering Barry Duncan

Media educator Barry Duncan is recalled and honored in this and other postings.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Using Cell Phones to Increase Student Achievement and Engagement with Reading and Writing

Cell phones are a terrific tool to support student engagement and achievement in reading and writing. To follow are some ideas explaining how teachers are doing just that by using cell phones in the way they are most commonly used among youth -- for texting and group texting. We will also look at a newly emerging trend...using cell phones to write novels.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

NAMLE Announces 2013 Media Literacy Conference

NAMLE is pleased to announce that its next national conference will be held on July 12-13, 2013 in Los Angeles! The theme: Intersections-Teaching & Learning Across Media. Other details can be found here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

NOW Literacies

Jon Callow is an Australian educator who has written extensively about visual literacy and reading. One of my favorite books is IMAGE MATTERS: Visual Texts In The Classroom. Here is an essay, Talking About Visual Texts With Students, from IRA's Reading Online which he authored in 2003 Here is a newer video, NOW literacies--everyday classrooms reading, viewing and creating multimodal texts, which I found both interesting and relevant.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Why Aren't More Schools Teaching Web Literacy?

Fourteen years after Alan November first co-wrote ‘Teaching Zack to Think,’ here’s a new three-part framework for making sure students are internet savvy.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"Inside the Script" New Ebook Screenplay Series Announced

"Inside the Script" is the title of the newly created Warner Brothers Studios series of famous screenplays. The e-books will include items such as the shooting script, production notes, storyboards and on-set photographs. Other details here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Is Teaching 3D The Next Big Thing in Curriculum?

eSchool News reports: From creating the arena in the ‘Hunger Games’ to designing their own video games, students in tech-savvy districts say these classes make them interested in learning.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Study Points to Learning Benefits of Stop Motion Animation

This brief summary of the study “Animation as an Aid to Multimedia Learning”  published in the "Educational Psychology Review", shows the importance of stop motion animation in successful learning and brain recognition.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Media Literacy: Now Part of New P21 Math Curriculum Documents

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has just released its latest curriculum skills map, this time for math, and like all previous ICT maps, this one also includes media literacy. See pages 21-23 in the new document.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Role of The Visual Image In The Civil Rights Movement

"For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights” is the title of a traveling exhibit opening soon in Kansas City. The exhibit takes on a new approach: “It’s looking .. at how visual culture — TV, movies, mass merchandise, magazine covers — how visual images really provided a catalyst that moved the civil rights movement forward.”  Details in this news story and in the book of the same name. The New York Times reviewed the exhibit when it was in the city. Previously, I produced a workshop for teachers on this topic.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

NCTE Fall Webinars on Pop Culture & To Kill A Mockingbird

Date: October 2    Time: 4-5pm ET
Using Popular Culture & The Media to Teach 21st Century Media Literacy Skills
Description: The media remains a dominant force in the lives of today’s students, yet the 21st century classroom still gives media a backseat to print. Media are texts, designed to be read (analyzed/ deconstructed) as well as written (produced/created). NCTE consultant
Frank W. Baker examines standards that include media and offers recommendations for engaging students with popular culture and the media
Registration opens soon at

Date: November 8   Time: 4pm -5pm ET
To Kill A Mockingbird-The Film: Helping Students Appreciate the Language of the Moving Image
Description: Many educators teach the novel and use the film, but how many know how to use the filmto teach film literacy? Teaching film techniques ( lighting, symbolism, sound, camera angles) is part of the new Common Core ELA Standards. Join film and media educator Frank Baker, an NCTE consultant, for this new look at engaging students in film education. Registration opens soon at:

MNet's New Toolkit Addresses Bias and Hate in Media

Media Awareness Network (MNet) has unveiled, The Diversity and Media Toolbox, a new suite of digital and media literacy resources to help educate young people about how media representations can negatively influence how we view certain groups in society. The program is broken into two distinct but complementary topic areas: online hate and media portrayals of ethnicity and race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and Aboriginal people.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

'The Hunger Games': What the movie missed about the book

If students are still conducting a "compare and contrast the novel with its film adaptation" in classrooms, then this analysis by a writer for Entertainment Weekly magazine will come in handy.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Teaching Advertising As Part of Media Literacy

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about advertising.  So here is another one of my periodic columns about the topic for USA TODAY'S EDUCATION BLOG.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Saying Yes to Digital Media in Preschool and Kindergarten

HuffPost Reports: The NAEYC, the largest trade organization for early educators in the country, has just released a statement in conjunction with the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media about technology and young children (up through age 8). Though the groups discourage "passive screen technology" usage -- like TV and DVDs -- with children under two, they don't suggest a ban on screens for preschoolers or kindergartners as some child-advocacy groups have suggested. Nor do they say teachers should avoid using technology with young kids. Instead, the groups puts the onus on teachers to make smart decisions and use technology appropriately. (Dr. Faith Rogow adds: "What Guernsey's article doesn't say is that this is really a hallmark for media literacy education. Media literacy specialists were consulted as the policy was being developed and much of our input was integrated into the final statement. As a result, this is a clear call for media literacy education in early childhood settings and early elementary classrooms.")

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Screenwriting...for third graders??

"Screenwriting for Third Graders" is the title of an essay on The Hollywood Reporter's web site. It tells of some Hollywood types going into a needy elementary school in the area to help students understand what they do. I really am fond of this idea, because first, kids love the movies, and secondly, all media (including film) start out as writing. (Too bad you won't find that fact in any English Language Arts textbook.)   I can't think of a better way to engage this audience than to show them actual screenplays and explore the codes and conventions in them.

Film is one of those "new literacies" that many teachers are still (even today) discovering.

If you're not already aware of it, I have developed a web page entitled
"Scriptwriting In The Classroom" which offers ideas, suggestions and resources.

So, for all the teachers trying to engage students in digital storytelling, book trailer production and more, please checkout
my page.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Teaching Critical Thinking With The Movies

Ok, the Super Bowl game is history and the buzz about the commercials is finally dying down.  What’s next?   The Academy Awards. (Read more here)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Youth, media and complacency about piracy

Young people want their music, TV and movies now — even if it means they get these things illegally. A recent Columbia University survey found, in fact, that 70 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds said they had bought, copied or downloaded unauthorized music, TV shows or movies, compared with 46 percent of all adults who'd done the same. Wth such an entrenched attitude, what can be done about widespread online piracy?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Political Campaign Ads: A Prescription to Lie?

I was recently interviewed by a columnist with a Ft Myers (FL) newspaper. We got around to talking about the political season, since the Florida primary was right around the corner. Teachers may be interested in my webpage on the role of media in politics--which primarily recommends teachers consider using the politicians 30-second-ads in instruction. This is also the topic of a book I authored.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

2012 NCTE Media Literacy Award Call for Entries

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) invites educators who teach media literacy to consider applying for this national award.

The deadline is June 30, 2012. The Beck Foundation has underwritten the $2,000 prize.

The winner(s) will be recognized during a ceremony at the NCTE 2012 national conference in Las Vegas.

Details available at:

Friday, February 3, 2012

Using Super Bowl Ads In The Classroom

ELA teachers know that using these commercials  with students is a great way not only to teach techniques of persuasion (propaganda) but also the techniques of production (non-print, media creation techniques).

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ideas for Incorporating Film Into Instruction (Awards Season Related)

This New York Times Learning Network blog post offer ideas for incorporating lessons about film into the curriculum as three major film-industry events get under way. It suggests having students compare one of this year's nominees for the Best Picture Oscar with the books on which they are based, or having them write a review or persuasive essay about the film they liked best. Other suggestions include analyzing the historical accuracy of a film or creating a video to discuss a favorite scene in one of the films.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Media Literacy: A Necessary 21st Century Skill

St. Louis area educator Don Goble writes about the importance of media literacy from his perspective as a high school broadcast, technology and film teacher.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Media Literacy Matters: Frank Baker's ISTE Blog Post

For more than 20 years, I have taught media literacy—critical thinking about media messages—to teachers and students around the US. In every presentation/workshop, I ask my audience to define media literacy as they understand it to mean. Unfortunately, most don’t understand it.  More on ISTE's blog.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Info literacy must be a community education movement (Renee Hobbs)

“The Internet is quickly becoming the critical gateway for accessing jobs, education, healthcare, government services and civic participation, yet a disturbing number of Americans lack broadband access or the basic skills in how to use it,” noted Renee Hobbs. “But digital literacy is not as simple as giving people access to a broadband hookup. As the nonpartisan Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy found, digital literacy is actually a constellation of life skills that are necessary for full participation in our media-saturated, information-rich society.”
What are these life skills that are encompassed by digital literacy? They include the abilities to access, analyze and evaluate, create, reflect and act. In her ProJo op-ed, Hobbs lists the following capabilities:

New Website: The Language of Film

I invite all who teach and/or love film to be the FIRST to see/review my new website The Language of Film.  The site is still "under construction."  Suggestions, additions and recommendations are welcome. Respond here or privately at

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Webinar & New Book On Media Literacy

Admittedly, this is self-serving since I am the author...but I couldn't help but want to post information about my newest book ("Media Literacy in the K-12 Classroom") here. ISTE will publish the book this month, and on January 19th I will be conducting a webinar on the topic of media literacy. I hope you'll join me and consider sharing this information with a colleague or librarian. 

Frank Baker, Media Literacy Clearinghouse

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Library as a Digital Learning Space

Wanting to develop a media center/library that would go beyond stacks of unused books, dark study corners, and low lighting, the staff at a high school in Simsbury, CT, worked with its district superintendent to determine a new direction for the facility. Some of the key questions discussed concerned the need for a physical library in the information age, the role that books would play in the new facility, and how media literacy would be taught to students.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Computer skills are the grammar of the 21st century

The Guardian (UK) has started a "digital literacy" iniative which includes a dialogue with readers and educators about the future of education. In this interview, the Conservative minister for culture, communications and the creative industry says computer skills are "the grammar of the 21st century".