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Developing literacy across media platforms


Students review the basic tenets of news literacy and will reimagine the essential news literacy questions, reframing these approaches to reflect concomitant literacies, including media and information literacy.


  • Students will expand basic news literacy practices to apply to other media.
  • Students will create a list of guiding questions for evaluating non-journalistic media.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1c Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.


50 minutes


Divided Class Set: Teacher’s Guide to Media Literacy Concepts (one copy for teacher, one copy with each of the 24 media literacy concepts cut out to pass out to students)

Class Set: Main Concepts of News Literacy 

Lesson step-by-step

1. Review — 5 minutes

Take a moment to review the main concepts of news literacy. If you can, project the concepts up onto a whiteboard or screen, and talk through each concept. When you’re finished, ask students to brainstorm whether (and how) these concepts apply to other forms of media, like entertainment and advertising.  Remind them that they likely spend much of their time reading or watching media that isn’t specifically journalism, so it’s just as important to be literate media consumers as it is to be literate news consumers. In reality, news literacy is just one type of “media literacy,” since “media literacy” means being critical and aware of many types of media.

2. Main concepts discussion — 10 minutes

To begin thinking about what it means to be media literate, let’s look at some core concepts outlined by the Media Literacy Project. These core concepts all generally relate to three main ideas (write these across the board, creating three columns):

1. How we process media

2. How media convey messages

3. How media messages affect us

Tell students that you’re going to brainstorm for a moment what we might mean by each of these ideas. Start with the first idea, and ask for examples, clarification, or any thoughts that students have that might relate. Ask questions like:

What do we mean by “how we process media?” Ask students what sorts of things affect the way we process media? Our culture? Our beliefs? Our parents? Our worldviews?

Write their thoughts and ideas under the first column. Repeat the question/discussion for the next two columns, filling in ideas under the appropriate heading.

Then, explain that seeing the relationships between all these things, and finally understanding your own answers to each of these questions, is what being media literate is all about.

3. Analyze and respond — 10 minutes

Using the teacher’s guide to media literacy concepts, pass out one concept to each student (you can double up if needed, but don’t give two students seated next to each other the same concept). Explain that students are to take a few moments to think about this concept, consider whether they agree with it, and explore why. Then, they should write a short response about their thoughts and give an example of how this concept plays out in real life (for example, the student who is exploring the “we can change our media system” concept might point to examples of citizen journalism and blogging as a way citizens try to change the system).

4. Class discussion — 25 minutes

Once students are finished reading and responding to their concept, use a projection device to project all 24 of the media literacy concepts on the board for class discussion. Go through each concept, reading it aloud for the whole class, and then ask the student who had that concept to explain their perspective and their example. This way, students will be exposed to all 24 concepts and examples through the course of the discussion.