Discovering Media Literacy: Teaching Digital Media and Popular Culture in Elementary School (Anglais) Broché – 11 septembre 2013
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But the real gift of DISCOVERING MEDIA LITERACY - and why it's worth your time - is that it shares failures as well as successes. The book describes the Powerful Voices for Kids project. Most of the teachers involved were exploring new territory, especially in terms of integrating media literacy into primary school classrooms. Their willingness to take risks resulted in some creative and valuable activity ideas, but the road to high quality teaching and learning wasn't always smooth.
Typically, readers only get descriptions of lessons that turned out well and classrooms that sound like Lake Wobegon ("where all the children are above average"). Here, authors and teachers accompany such descriptions with analysis of things they tried that didn't work. In several instances, they show how missteps led to modifications that transformed problems into successes. If you've ever muddled your way through a teachable moment only to think later of a brilliant way you could have handled the situation more effectively, you'll appreciate these stories. I applaud these teachers for their courage in letting us see their weaknesses as well as their strengths. It immeasurably deepens what we can learn from their experiences.
The other great strength of this book is its bear hug embrace of reflective practice. Insights from reflection are linked to lesson design and implementation, and there is even reflection about the methods used for reflection! The result is a powerful reminder that teaching is as much an art as it is a science (even in this era of data-driven schooling).
Unfortunately, the reflection didn't always extend to lesson goals. For example, one instructor struggles to help kindergartners understand what makes a cartoon a cartoon. But there's no discussion of why understanding the differences between animation and other media forms is important for a kindergartner to master. In other lessons, short-term goals are clearly outlined (e.g., understanding target audience or authorship or framing or how to make a web page), but these aren't tied to broader purposes. Despite the project name, we don't really get a clear sense of how media literacy - or literacy at all - is related to power. Educators who use a critical literacy approach will especially miss connections between the lessons and their relationship to community or social justice.
Still, this text is a rich resource that acknowledges the complexity of the task at hand. The authors provide tech recommendations and also point to instances where media and technology create problems. They recognize the love/hate relationship with media that is common among teachers of young children, many of whom struggle to protect their students' innocence while also preparing them for life in a digital world. And they acknowledge that introducing media in classrooms can often lead to unintended (and sometimes unwanted) results. In addressing this last point, Hobbs and Moore write, "Paradoxically, it is precisely because popular culture media texts can cause unpredictable reactions that it motivates creative, critical, and divergent thinking."
This book is an invitation to skeptics to experiment and a source of ideas for elementary school teachers already committed to media and digital literacy. For both groups, it will prompt a vibrant discussion of what 21st century literacy looks like in practice - including all the messiness that accompanies deep and lasting learning.
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