Media and Information Literacy

 

The ability to analyze, understand, and shape the information landscape, to read between and behind the lines, and to act responsibly as an online citizen are now indispensible skills. Mark Day School has been leading education in media and information literacy for more than 10 years: Our program develops the habits of mind students need to knowledgably interact with information, but also inspires them and gives them the tools to use their own voice and creativity to express themselves in video, audio, and the written word. They learn how to think critically about all types of information and how to participate constructively in online life.

Media fluency is developed over a student's time here, beginning in the Lower School, with integrated lessons about, for example, cereal advertising and reading nutrition labels. Gradually, students begin using iPads in the classroom for a variety of applications—Skyping with guest readers from afar, using Google Earth to find mystery locations, math enrichment, and more.

Middle Division students ask increasingly sophisticated questions in the area of media and information literacy; sometimes those questions lead to interesting results. In 2013–14, the 5th grade started asking some pointed questions about why their history textbook contained so little about the topics of slavery and the role of women in American history. This led to a discussion of how history textbooks are marketed and purchased and, thus, how they are written. It also resulted in students doing projects about lesser-known historical figures and incidents, using primary source material that they were able to access online.

As they enter the Upper Division, students are becoming critical thinkers and they now have many tools at their disposal and many opportunities to express themselves across different media. They will use video to tell stories and become proficient and regular bloggers in English class. In expanding their audience, they will learn about the rewards and the pitfalls of having such a large platform. The entire 8th grade participates in Media Literacy Week in the spring. Each student chooses a topic and looks at how that topic is represented in the media, in the process creating a video, print, or audio project to express their own educated opinion.