Connect Communicate Challenge!


The students we teach today are growing up in a world of consistently developing change, in an era where they are saturated with modern media, new technologies and information from newspapers, television, video games, facebook, twitter, cell phones and the internet.  Research suggests students spend seven to eight hours a day consuming media.  Knowing how to read and analyze these different forms of media critically is crucial and the key to literacy and understanding.

So how do we empower our students with the skills to analyze and criticize any media text?  One approach is through critical media literacy!  According to Kellner & Share (2005), critical media literacy not only teaches students to learn from media, to resist media manipulation, and to use media materials in constructive ways, but also concerned with developing skills that will help create good citizens and that will make individuals more motivated and competent participants in social life.


Here is a video presentation of how creating critical thinkers through media literacy can be achieved.


In our age of participatory culture  we must teach students to become skilled consumers of information, discerning fact from fiction and their ability to recognise different points of views (Hoechsmann & Poyntz, 2012a).

Our students arrive fluent in the language of computers, gaming, social networking and the internet (Bennett, Maton & Kervin, 2007).  They are used to multi-tasking through social media and gaming; meaning they are able to process layers of visual and dynamic information at a rapid rate.  Students of today are high level consumers of such multimodal texts from a magazine advertisement to a video game,  to a website (Hoechsmann & Poyntz, 2012b) and two-dimensional text bears little resemblance to much that they process as information literacies.

We live in an increasingly online and visually advancing world.  Just as teachers have used paint brushes, vivid markers, whiteboards and pencils to produce multimedia we now have more potential and tools to investigate multimedia in other ways.  As we make the move from pen and paper to digital technologies we must take care not to just change the medium after all a “worksheet is a worksheet” in any format, but to change the pedagogy of the steadily expanding technologies.  The difficulty in this is, for teachers to understand how learners position themselves in social contexts as literate consumers of multiple texts.  Teachers, after all, can only do for students what they have experienced for themselves (Albers, Vasquez, Harste 2008).

I evaluated my own experience as a teacher, and reflected on the changing nature of literacy in our classrooms today and the impact media has had, and continues to have, on the teaching of literacy.  I like so many teachers, and as a ‘Digital Immigrant’ Helsper & Eynon (2010),  still practiced a reliance on printed text but share the beliefs in a multiliteracies pedagogy. Burn & Durran (2007) cites Cope and Kalantzis (2000) to define multiliteracies as using other modes of communication and new technologies.  Evidence supports this is as a common issue (Leu et al., 2000), as teachers struggle to redefine their own literacy practices to prepare students to become fully literate in today’s world.


The learning landscape is certainly changing and so must teachers.  Once confined to classrooms, student learning can now be shared worldwide (Hull, 2009).  The challenge for us as teachers in growing our students beyond traditional reading and writing and rather, into multiliterate learners.  Because learning is socially constructed, which is even more powerfully enacted through technology, our students need to become critical consumers of information, discerners and critics, inquirers and questioners.  Furthermore, the need to use critical media literacy as a method to enact language in powerful ways: to question privilege and injustice, to enhance life in school (Comber, 2001), and to constantly access new literacies in an ever-changing world.

I am interested in finding out if media literacy exists in the primary school I teach in and if so what does it look like?.  Also, how teachers have incorporated media literacy into their classroom programme.



Bennett S., Maton K. and Kervin L. (2008).  The “digital natives” debate:  A critical review of the evidence. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(5), 775-786. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2007.00793.x


Burn, Andrew,& Durran, James. (2007). Media literacy in schools: Practice, production and progression. London: Paul Chapman Publishing [Chapter 1: What is media literacy? pp.1-22]


Comber, B. (2001). Critical literacies and local action: Teacher knowledge and a “new” research agenda. In B. Comber & A. Simpson (Eds.).  Negotiating critical literacies in classrooms, 271-282. Mahwah,NJ: Earlbaum.


Helsper, E.J., & Eynon, R. (2010). Digital natives: where is the evidence?, British Educational Research Journal, 36(3), 503-520.


Hoechsmann, M., & Poyntz, S.R. (2012a). Critical citizenship and media literacy futures. In M. Hoechsmann & S. R. Poyntz, Media Literacies: A Critical Introduction (pp. 191-202): Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.


Hoechsmann, M., & Poyntz, S.R. (2012b). Media literacies: A critical introduction. Malden, MA, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. [Chapter 1: What is media literacy, pp.1-16]


Kellner, D., & Share, J. (2005). Toward critical media literacy: Core concepts, debates, organizations, and policy. Discourse: Studies in the cultural politics of education, 26(3), 369-386.


3 thoughts on “Connect Communicate Challenge!

  1. I really enjoyed reading your blog and the way you have clearly articulated the issue around students becoming ‘multiliterate’ and the dilemmas that we may have as educators around this. It’s an area that I’m beginning to become more and more fascinated in. I am curious to know if by further critiquing my approach to ‘literacy’ as a teacher would this help students to engage in ‘literacy’ lessons in a whole different way. Could taking a narrow more traditional approach to ‘literacy’ be a reason why some of our students are underachieving? I’m looking forward to hearing what is happening in your school around media literacy education.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Esther. I love the ideas from one of the links as it mentioned teachers and librarian should given training and skills to help our young children. Thats’ a good way of thinking to support teachers through professional development to teach media literacy. I think the one you said from a ‘mum’ point of view I support is the traditional and modern teaching methods. I think we should shift first too, in order help our children so definitely I think this is important to media literacy education. Your blog looks great and I can’t wait to see your presentation part in the classroom.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Namaste Esther,
    just wanted add to your blog on building relationship within the early childhood settings. i believe it’s best time for teachers and children,give our family and teachers connected to more the children interest and needs, taking time but in returns supports our tamariki the most. We invite , encourage, and bring along whanau for all our open days , trips, cultural celebrations e.g samoan week. The key point we kindergarten celebrate and respect everybody’s festivals and specials e.g birthdays.our curriculum is purely based the social cultural perspective. Our kindergarten have open door system for parents come and spent time with us. The food is element that joins and we enjoy having together kai. We love people, people, people. As it says in Maori He tangata He Tangata He Tangata. This concept relates to the Vygotsky theory where “He placed more emphasis on the social context of learning, (p.3). At kindergarten the teachers taking so much time for our whanau. thanks Esther you know too because we come from pacific background.

    Liked by 1 person

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