Monday, December 29, 2014

Cracking the Sitcom Code

"Cracking the Sitcom Code", an essay in The Atlantic online, is must reading for teachers (and students) of this popular media genre. 

Excerpt: " From The Simpsons to Seinfeld, from Everybody Loves Raymond to Everybody Hates Chris, from Taxi to Arrested Development to Parks & Recreation, there is a highly-specific, minute-by-minute recipe used to write the vast majority of sitcoms out there. And once you know the formula, it makes it much easier to write them, and much harder to watch them without seeing that formula—the “sitcom code”—everywhere you look."

Sunday, December 21, 2014

TV Special Features Creative Process of Producing TV Sitcoms

"Now That’s Funny! On Set with TV’s Hottest Comedies: A Paley Center for Media Special,” airs on the CBS Television Network on Friday, December 26 at 8:00pm ET (check your local listings).  This one-of-a-kind program will give viewers a look inside the intricate process of getting television’s funniest shows on the air each week. From the brainstorming in the writers room, to the informal hilarity of the table read, to the energy and spontaneity of the actual performance, audiences will see how their favorite shows continue to keep fans laughing. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Writers Speak To Kids (Videos)

In this NBC Learn special collection, Writers Speak to Kids, children‘s book authors share their writing experiences to help students learn more about the craft and techniques of creative writing. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Buzzworthy/Award Film Screenplays Appear Online

Last week's issue of The Hollywood Reporter contains the first "For Your Consideration" ads, as it is the start of the film screening/nomination process. And it's not just the Academy Awards that the film studios are advertising to. It's also the Director's Guild, the Cinematography Guild and all of the others.
So the November 14 issue was wrapped with the ad for "How to Train Your Dragon 2" which contains this URL:

Another ad for "The BoxTrolls" urges readers to go to:
(The screenplays for "Theory of Everything", "BoxTrolls" ,"Kills The Messenger:", "Bad Words", and "Wish I Was There" can be found there)

Speaking of writing, THR starts their season of roundtable discussions/videos in this issue with writers:
This issue also features a the making of featured on "The Imitation Game"

It’s that time of year again when studios make available PDFs of movie scripts for award season. As in years past,GoIntoTheStory is tracking them and posting links as they become available.
Current total of 2014 scripts for download: 7.
Newly added script in bold below:
Get On Up (Universal Pictures)
Gone Girl (20th Century Fox)
How To Train Your Dragon 2 (DreamWorks Animation)
St. Vincent (The Weinstein Company)
The Boxtrolls (Focus Features)
The Fault In Our Stars (20th Century Fox)
The Theory of Everything (Focus Features)
Studios also make production notes available:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Bring History, Journalism and the First Amendment to Life

The Newseum in Washington, D.C., now offers a Digital Classroom with high-quality, standards-based, document-driven instruction. Focused on historical inquirymedia literacycritical thinkingdocument analysis and civic engagement, Newseum Education’s Digital Classroom features a wide variety of engaging interactive content for middle school through college teaching and learning. A library of 12 captioned and beautifully produced video lessons, complete with viewing guidesessential questions and lesson plans, focus on critical media literacy issues such as Bias, Getting It Right (accuracy in media), What’s Newsand SourcesHistorical video lessons cover such topics as The Berlin Wall and the PressThe Press and the Civil Rights MovementWatergate and 45 Words (the First Amendment). Currently, three comprehensive modules aggregate a wealth of resources and activities. The latest addition, Women, Their Rights and Nothing Less, investigates the suffragists’ pioneering use of the free press and the other First Amendment freedoms. Students explore more than 250 primary sources in three interactives. Using aninteractive timeline and the map of persuasive materials, they see how and why movement participants dared to challenge the status quo. Then they discover their legacy in contemporary civil rights issues and build their own case for change today. A library of primary sources connects to each of the modules: 150 documents on Women’s RightsBlood and Ink: 30 Historic Front Pages from the Civil War andEmancipation Proclamation Front Pages. Documents may be downloaded freely as full-sized PDFs to facilitate examination by students. Activities connect to a variety of standards documents in language arts and social studies from middle school through high school.

Monday, November 10, 2014

CFP: News Literacy- Special Issue of Journalism Education

Call for Papers:

Exploring News Literacy:
Preparing future journalists—and citizens—for engagement in global digital culture

Special Issue of Journalism Education

Guest editors:
Paul Mihailidis, Emerson College, Boston, USA
Stephanie Craft, University of Illinois, USA

This special issue of Journalism Education is devoted to the emerging field of news literacy. It aims to provide new understanding, approaches, and foundations for how we understand the competencies that future journalists – professionals and citizens alike -- need to effectively report news stories that demand attention in digital culture today.

Contributions to this special issue will identify and critique a range of factors that are facing journalism and media educators. In recognizing the pedagogical challenges engendered by the destabilization of traditional models for news, this issue calls for theoretical treatments of the term ‘news literacy’ as a productive basis for rethinking media literacy and public engagement in civic life.

Research examining news literacy in primary, secondary or higher education contexts is welcome. Possible topics include:

  • How best to define news literacy?
  • News literacy as a response to a destabilizing industry
  • Evolving forms and practices of news media pedagogy
  • Students’ uses of social media for engagement with news
  • News literacy in connective networks and sharing culture
  • Training citizen journalists
  • Curation as news pedagogy
  • Storytelling as news literacy
  • Teaching reporting in an “everything is free” culture
  • How best to keep up with the changing demands for teaching about news and journalism?
  • Innovation and experimentation in news education in digital culture
  • Ethical responsibilities in producing, curating, disseminating and consuming news

Prospective authors should submit an abstract of approximately 250 words by email to Paul Mihailidis ( Following peer-review, a selection of authors will be invited to submit a full paper in accordance with the journal’s ‘Instructions for authors.’ Please note acceptance of the abstract does not guarantee publication, given that all papers will be put though the journal’s peer review process.

Deadline for abstracts: 15 December 2014; deadline for submission of full papers: 1 April 2015. Final revised papers due: 15 June 2015. Publication: Volume 9, Number 4 (September 2015).

Guest Editors
Paul Mihailidis is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies in the school of communication at Emerson College and Associate Director of Emerson’s Engagement Lab. He also Directs the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change. He newest book is titled Media Literacy and the Emerging Citizen: Youth, Engagement and Participation in Digital Culture (Peter Lang, 2014).

Stephanie Craft’s is an Associate Professor of Journalism in the College of Media at the University of Illinois. Her research, focusing on news literacy, press practices and journalism ethics, has appeared in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Communication Law & Policy, Mass Communication & Society, Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism, and Journalism & Mass Communication Educator. With Charles Davis, she is author of the textbook Principles of American Journalism, published by Routledge. Before earning a PhD, Craft worked as a newspaper journalist in California, Washington and Arkansas.

Editorial Contact
Paul Mihailidis
Emerson College
120 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116
tel: +001(978)761-2412


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

If you think film belongs only in ELA or the Arts– think again

Using film in the classroom isn’t a perk reserved for English and drama. Teacher Elizabeth Evans, writing in The Guardian, explores how science, geography and maths students can also benefit.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Campaign Ads: Helping Students Find the Truth

If politicians have a “license to lie” in campaign advertising, how are our students to know who and what to believe? Critical thinking skills are paramount, says media literacy consultant Frank Baker, who shares insights and resources tied to Common Core and social studies standards.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The important role costume plays in the language of film

I've just written another essay about "close reading," "film analysis," and the important role costume design plays in films.  Common Core ELA makes several references to film in middle grades, so studying what a character wears might be relevant. (There are also a number of Read/Write/Think lessons related to costuming.)

I maintain a web page of teaching ideas and resources related to film costume on my Language of Film website.

Coincidentally, "Hollywood Costume"-- a major exhibition-- opens in early October in Los Angeles. 

And with the 75th anniversary of "Gone With The Wind" underway, there is a new exhibit in Austin Texas. There is also an excellent companion online resource "Producing Gone With The Wind," which details how the film came to be adapted from the popular Margaret Mitchell novel.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Resource: Picturing US History: Building visual literacy

Using photos, videos, and other types of images is one of the most effective ways to hook kids into your content. Images can create emotion, explain events, generate questions, and help solve problems.
But sometimes it can be difficult integrating visuals into your instruction. What images to use? What activities work best? How can you align these activities with national and state standards?
Picturing United States History: An Interactive Resource for Teaching with Visual Evidence can help. Created by the folks at the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning at the City University of New York Graduate Center with funding support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the site is a digital project based on the belief that visual materials are vital to understanding the American past.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Technology and Digital Media in the Early Years – A Textbook for 21st Century Educators

Here’s a look at this new book's contributors and their chapters. It’s a line-up of some of the most important thought leaders in the field of young children, media literacy and educational technology: - See more here

Thursday, August 21, 2014

NCTE 2014 Media Literacy Award Recipient Named

University of Buffalo (NY) Graduate School of Education doctoral student Denise Grandits, a middle school literature teacher in St. Amelia School in Tonawanda, is the latest recipient of the Media Literacy Award from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).  Read more here.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Close Reading of Media Texts

I've recently created this new website--which combines various resources for those educators who teach "close reading analysis" of media texts. The new page features essays I've written as well as resources from other reliable sources.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How to Close Read the Language of Film

When students are challenged to “close read” a movie, they must not only learn how to deconstruct the story, they must understand the many elements and techniques that are used by filmmakers to create the total effect, says expert Frank Baker, writng in this series about close reading for MiddleWeb.

Additionally, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) offers educators these free, downloadable teacher guides which are excellent resources for introducing and reinforcing the "languages of film."

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Fourth Graders Demonstrate Media Literacy & Graphicacy In Magazine Cover Production Activity

Every year our fourth graders complete a state project. Instead of doing the usual travel brochure or poster with their research, we decided to have them pitch their states by designing a travel magazine cover. It sounds simple, but it actually incorporated the skills of media literacy and graphicacy. On the one hand, it required them to think about the message, and on the other, to visually construct the design to sell it. More from the ASIDE blog.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Resource: Powerful Voices for Kids

POWERFUL VOICES FOR KIDS is a free online resource that helps teacher educators introduce digital and media literacy to teachers in the elementary grades. Watch videos of classroom practice, see samples of student work, get lesson plans, and discuss strategies that help children build literacy, language, critical thinking, creative and collaborative skills by exploring mass media, popular culture and digital media tools and technologies.
IDEAS for exploring digital and media literacy in elementary school include: 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Ideas for Teaching With/About Film In A Common Core Environment

Here are some key ideas (written in a blog post by a participant in the Jacob Burns Film Center Summer Teacher Institute)  that can be applied in any classroom relating to teaching media literacy and film studies.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Close Reading of Advertising Promotes Critical Thinking

Advertising: it’s everywhere. As media literacy educators work to engage students in conversations about commercial marketing, we have to consider the close reading of print and video ads. Frank Baker provides starting points and resources for teachers.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Author: Teens should read graphic novels not just 'worthy' novels

“(this conference) is all about repositioning reading for teens. Books should also be celebrated for their enormous entertainment value – they don’t need to be worthy.”  (children’s laureate Malorie Blackman ) added she would advocated “anything” that encouraged young people to read, including graphic novels, or film and TV adaptations. (Source)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Deconstructing A News Magazine Cover (Visual Literacy)

Check out this recent cover from Newsweek Magazine. 

Having students identify the people portrayed, their clothes, and even the symbols might be productive.

Whether you're a fan of  HBO's series "Game of Thrones" or not, this might be good for student analysis, deconstruction and discussion.

Here is a simple handout I developed with questions you might consider using with students.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Close Reading & What It Means for Media Literacy

Close reading isn’t just for printed texts anymore. To help students meet Common Core standards related to close observation and effective questioning, media literacy consultant Frank Baker, writing on, suggests ways to engage them with a range of visual content.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Images & Words of WWII Featured in New WWII Exhibit

"The Power of Words and Images in a World at War" (an exhibit at the Grolier Club in New York City) focuses on the iconic posters, broadsides, books and periodicals that influenced millions in the six-year course of the last great worldwide conflict. The major themes of this conflict -- the antecedents of war, the rise of German nationalism, the Blitz, Pearl Harbor, the European and Pacific theaters, life on various home fronts – are illustrated by colorful and dramatic examples of the graphic and propaganda arts, drawn from the collection of The Museum of World War II in Boston, one of the most comprehensive in the world. See a slideshow and read a review of the exhibit in The New York Times.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Magnum Photographer Recalls Tinanmen Square & Iconic Tank Man Photo

Stuart Franklin, the Magnum photographer, tells his story of the 1989 protests, from peaceful demonstration to bloody crackdown, the iconic 'tank man' – and how hamburgers gave him his big break.

Hollywood Reporter Roundtable Interviews/Airing on A&E

The Hollywood Reporter and A&E Network have partnered to produce The Hollywood Reporter Roundtables series, featuring TV's top Emmy contenders in intimate discussions leading up to the nominations. 

Broadcast as a four-part series, the Roundtables will kick off June 8 with two episodes, the hourlong Drama Actor and Drama Actress panels. A&E, which reaches 100 million U.S. homes, will air the Comedy Actor and Comedy Actress Roundtables on June 15. Film-focused Roundtables during the Oscar season will follow on A&E later this year.  
More details here.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

2014 NCTE Media Literacy Awards (Call for Submissions)

The ninth annual NCTE Media Literacy Award will be presented at the NCTE Annual Convention. Previous award winners are profiled at the following site:
Deadline for submitting the application for the 2014 award is June 30, 2014. The award winner will be notified by the end of August and will receive a plaque along with a cash award of $2,000.
A resolution passed by the members at the 2003 San Francisco Convention on Composing with Non-Print Media, made the creation of this award especially timely.  The resolution recommended the encouragement of preservice, inservice, and staff development programs that focus on new literacies, multi-media composition and a broadened concept of literacy.  The award showcases NCTE members who have developed innovative approaches for integrating media analysis and composition into their instruction.
Applying for the Award
The Media Literacy Award will be presented to an individual, team, or department that has implemented and refined exemplary media literacy practices in their school environment.  The Award Selection Process will be based on a portfolio review by a selection committee.

Further details are posted here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

eBook: Reading The Movies

For those who teach film, this revision of the classic "Reading The Movies" by William Costanzo is now out as an e-book.  "The 2014 Kindle edition is intended for teachers and general readers who want a richer experience of great films. In Part I, Costanzo offers insights into the art of adaptation, the languages of film, and cinema technology as well as concise surveys of film history and theory. In Part II, he focuses on twelve extraordinary movies and how to get the most from them. Reading the Movies is an indispensable guide for watching movies in the 21st century."

Saturday, March 1, 2014

History vs Hollywood: Who Gets It Right?

Because this year's Academy Awards nominees include so many docu-dramas, and because young people think they are seeing real history on the screen, I created this new resource. It ties in nicely with Common Core, critical thinking/viewing, media literacy and more. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Common Sense Media's Digital Literacy & Citizenship Curriculum Now Available as iBooks Textbooks

Common Sense Media, the national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families and educators harness the power of technology responsibly, has just released its K-12 Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum as a set of 8 free interactive, multimedia iBooks Textbooks, available on iBooks. These iBooks Textbooks are the latest and most dynamic way to deliver an educator-approved curriculum that teaches how to participate safely, responsibly, and respectfully in today's digital world. Mike Lorion, General Manager of Education at Common Sense Media says the books  "embrace the benefits of the technology itself and use it to engage students in important lessons that teach 21st century skills, like Internet safety, recognizing and preventing cyberbullying, and online privacy and reputation." Details here. Or go the iBooks store and search "Common Sense Media."

Saturday, February 22, 2014

News Literacy Teaching Resources (NIE Week March 3-7)

The American Press Institute and The Newseum have revised several resources for educators who are teaching with and about the news, all designed to coincide with News In Education Week, March 3-7.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Meeting the CCS for Comparing Book With Film

Many of your students may have seen the current crop of docu-dramas, but how many of them have read the book from which the film is adapted?   Read more about meeting the CCS for film here

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Lights, camera, action: 8th-graders share their stories with tech

Bradley Beach Elementary School held a Digital Story Showcase to present 14 short films created by the school's Writing Across the Curriculum classes It was the first-ever initiative, within the school’s Writing Across the Curriculum classes, that was designed to teach students how to work together, tap resources and expertise, and use technology to share personal stories in an engaging way.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Teacher's Guide to The Academy Awards

We know our students LOVE the movies. And the upcoming Academy Awards telecast (March 2) will (again) be one of the most viewed programs, both in the US and around the world. I have developed a new resource web site providing ELA (and other) educators opportunities to take advantage of the buzz about the Oscars. Take a look and share it.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Registration Opens: Media Literacy Research Symposium

March 21, 2014             8:00AM-6:00PM
Dolan Business School  Fairfield University
Join a dynamic and growing group of researchers to:
  • develop and increase research within the field
  • reflect on work from current scholars, new researchers. graduate students and practicing educators
  • move the field forward within new and experienced voices in a unique international  format

Strands of Focus:
Strand 1: Media Literacy: Past, Present, and Future
Strand 2: Digital Media and Learning 
Strand 3: Global Perspectives
Strand 4: Education: Training, Policy, and Digital Citizenship
Strand 5: Public Spaces & Civic Activism
Registration Costs:
$75.00 for academics/researchers/educators  &  $35.00 for students.
For More Information:  

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Film Canon Project Website Launched

If you share our belief that film should be viewed, critically examined and discussed by learners in our classrooms as an integrated part of the curriculum we encourage you to join the Film Canon Project.
In our chapter, Developing a Film Study Curriculum and Canon, in the newly released book, Mastering Media Literacy, published by Solution-Tree (2014), we make the case for thoughtful and rigorous cinema curriculum coupled with the cultivation of a canon.   To neglect what is arguably one of the most influential forms of media as a formidable part of teaching and learning is to lurch backwards in time.
We encourage you to review the posted titles for consideration by your faculty and students and then  create your own canon.  Please submit additional titles.  The films on the list  are derived from compilations from multiple sources,  recommendations from professionals in the industry, and educators in the field.  The list will continue to expand.  The goal is to provide an active focused resource.
We invite you to submit film titles to the project that you believe will benefit students and teachers in their classrooms. Consider those films that are engaging and meaningful and can be integrated into the curriculum.