The Messages They’re Receiving

Submitted By:
Jessica Flaxman, Rye Country Day School, Rye, NY

Teaching Critical Thinking: Media Literacy and Document-Based Historical Inquiry by Megan Fromm and Abby Reisman
The Educator’s Playbook, Penn Graduate School of Education, October 17, 2023

"Ten Things Students Wish You Knew About Social Media”
The Social Institute, January 14, 2023

According to The Social Institute, a non-profit dedicated to providing schools with gamified lessons highlighting positive and responsible uses of technology, one thing that students wish adults would understand is that “social media’s stigma is more harmful than social media itself.” And yet, adult apprehension about social media’s hold on today’s youth continues to rise. Into this arena of relative irresolution wades The Educator’s Playbook, a collection of timely resources for K-12 educators from Penn’s Graduate School of Education. In the October 17th podcast, “Teaching Critical Thinking: Media Literacy and Document-Based Historical Inquiry,” host Kimberly McGlonn interviews Megan Fromm, Education Manager of the National Association for Media Literacy Education, and Abby Reisman, Associate Professor of Learning, Teaching, and Literacies at Penn GSE. Together, Fromm and Reisman make a compelling case for educators to embrace and incorporate all different kinds of media into their units of inquiry to help students sharpen their critical thinking skills and achieve more nuanced understandings of history. Giving students class time to interact with media and reflect on its purpose, message, origin, and audience makes good sense given the steady stream of digital content flowing to them from their devices. Fromm, Reisman, and educators at The Social Institute similarly argue that rather than address media literacy in silos, teachers should thread such lessons into every classroom and grade level and frame discussions about student use of social media in judgment-free language. The stakes are not low when it comes to helping students to understand who is sending them the messages they’re receiving and for what purpose.

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