Applying the Common Core

“To be ready for college, workforce training, and life in a technological society, students need the ability to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, and report on information and ideas, to conduct original research in order to answer questions or solve problems, and to analyze and create a high volume and extensive range of print and nonprint texts in media forms old and new. The need to conduct research and to produce and consume media is embedded into every aspect of today’s curriculum. In like fashion, research and media skills and understandings are embedded throughout the Standards rather than treated in a separate section.”

introduction to the common core state standards

“The purpose of media literacy education is to provide people with the habits of inquiry and skills of expression they need to be critical thinkers, effective communicators, and active citizens in today’s world”

national association for media literacy education

This site is founded on the notion that media literacy and analysis are fundamental to all education, whether your school adheres to the Common Core or has its own curriculum standards.The Critical Media Project situates media as a key text that can be used to teach and promote

  • Research, argument and the varying ways we can understand and constitute evidence
  • Critical thinking and questioning through open-ended inquiry
  • Analysis and interpretation of complex and multilayered texts through an examination of representation, themes, production and consumption, media conventions and forms, as well as embedded bias and ideology
  • Understanding of other perspectives and cultures with a specific focus on media representations of race and ethnicity, gender, class, and sexuality

The Critical Media Project not only provides a myriad of media examples that can be used in a variety of curriculum contexts, but facilitates interpretation and dialogue by providing background information as well as a series of discussion questions to promote the above stated goals. The site also includes lesson plans and classroom exercises designed to stimulate engagement with digital media and technology, to get students to think about the way media intersects with other subjects, and to encourage them to be active agents and responsible digital citizens in their own media production as it ties to identity politics.

common ground and the common core

The Common Core is a deliberately open-ended and flexible set of standards that, among other things, promotes an interdisciplinary approach to literacy. The Common Core not only directly encourages media analysis, but many of its basic goals parallel those of media literacy educators and organizations. As many practitioners within the field of media literacy education contend, media literacy education, like the standards promoted by the Common Core, builds upon basic skills rooted in critical thinking and analysis.

The Common Core and media literacy educators further find agreement in the need to support, recognize and respond to changing ideas of what constitutes a “text.” A text could be a canonical piece of literature, a painting in the Louvre, a 1970s sitcom, a comic book or a video game. The Common Core does not designate a list of key texts. Rather, in tandem with media literacy education platforms, the Common Core centers on a set of skills that emphasize the importance of interpreting and understanding a myriad of texts.

And, these skills are not reserved for the classroom. Indeed, media analysis and interpretation are everyday, core life skills, not just academic ones. Given the amount of media we encounter daily, it’s crucial that we know how to decipher the messages around us on billboards, television, video games, etc. The ability to engage in this kind of on-the-ground, everyday analysis of media fits within another of The Common Core’s values—independence and self-learning.

identity and the common core

This site not only acknowledges the significant place of media in our everyday lives, but also the ways in which media represents and potentially impacts how we understand our own and other identities. The embedded media examples shed light on the powerful role identity politics play in the media, and offer an important resource for instructors who want to incorporate media analysis, while tying it in meaningful ways to other facets of the curriculum.

The Critical Media Project can be used in a multiplicity of ways that can enhance student engagement with traditional curriculum and allow instructors to push deeper into core themes and ideas. Many of the media artifacts on this site tie directly to broader historical and contemporary issues that will resonate with social studies, history, English, as well as biology and health classes. Teachers may use the embedded media to explore and engage learning on a range of topics, including:

  • Historical and present day social movements (feminism, gay rights, civil rights, Marxism)
  • Government and civil rights acts
  • Character development and storytelling
  • Genre
  • Point of view and bias
  • Biological and physiological facets of identity (sex, gender, transgender, sexual orientation, etc.)

For students in California schools, this site also adheres to the FAIR Education Act which assures that the historical contributions of women, members of other racial, ethnic and cultural groups, gay and transgender individuals as well as those with disabilities are included in public school curriculum.

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