Coming into teaching, I assumed students were entering my classroom with an understanding of computers, technology, and the internet that I did not need to address. I was quickly proven wrong. Yes, our students can use social networks like Facebook, type an essay, and send an e-mail, but when it comes to actually using the technology for learning they were clueless.
Because it was evident they were not getting instruction in media literacy, I decided to start!
My first Media Literacy lesson was on Evaluating Websites.
I began this lesson by showing students the website for Dog Island, which can be found here…
I told the students I wanted to send my dog there as a Christmas present, and needed their advice! We searched the website together reading all of the information, looking at the pictures, clicking on all of the different links, and discussed our findings. I was shocked at how many of my students believed there was a Dog Island! However, in each class I had my skeptics, at least 2-3 people that knew it was somehow a hoax.
After our discussion, I clicked the Disclaimer at the bottom of the page showing the students the website was indeed a fake!
Following this, I did a quick powerpoint with my students that reviewed how to evaluate websites (which can be found on my class wiki!), and gave them a sheet explaining the 5 things to ask when faced with a new website (also on my class wiki)!
WHO… created the website?
WHAT… is the purpose of this site?
WHEN… was the site created/updated?
WHERE… is the information coming from?
WHY… should I use this information?
Students then were given a list of ten websites to evaluate using the criteria discussed in class. They posted their responses on our class wiki!
The powerpoint and the websites used can be found here under the Media Literacy page…
*Note! All of the websites used were fake!
After this lesson, the students began doing research for historical fiction pieces they were writing. I am happy to report that my students were finding great information from reliable sources! They were evaluating the websites carefully, calling me over to help them find information about the author or the date the site was last updated.
My students are now more critical of the information they find online, and have the skills they need to navigate through all the data the Internet has to offer!!
I hope you find this lesson and the resources listed to be helpful!
If anyone has any other suggestions for Media Literacy activities please comment 🙂