Media Literacy Finds a Home in McREL Language Arts Standards

"Where is media literacy in the standards?" many teachers ask.

The standards movement in education emerged at about the same time (1980s) that media literacy education was gaining a foothold in Australia, England and especially in Canada where a group of high school English teachers formed the Association for Media Literacy (AML) and began to work with the Ontario Ministry of Education to write a media literacy "framework" that dovetailed with the existing English/Language Arts framework for grades 6 - 12. The resulting Media Literacy Resource Guide continues to be the leading document in the world connecting media literacy to everyday classroom instruction.

It's enduring brilliance lies in the practical realization that to find a place in the already crowded curriculum of most school systems, education about media must be "integrated across the curriculum." In Language Arts, this means building onto the traditional four strands of instruction: "reading/writing" and "listening/speaking," by adding two additional strands: "viewing/re-presenting." (The term "representing" is often used interchangeably with the concept of "production" or "creating" media – i.e. making a re-presentation of an idea.)

In 2001, McREL ( Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning) expanded its language arts matrix to define standards for both "viewing" and (creating) "media." Situating media literacy as the educational process to introduce, practice and master information skills needed to thrive in our 21st century multi-media culture is a significant turning point for the acceptance of media literacy in U.S. schools nationwide.

Language Arts Standard 9: VIEWING
Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media

Language Arts Standard 10: MEDIA
Understands the characteristics and components of the media

Additional standards on specific topics such as advertising, propaganda, film, etc. may also be found here.

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