Media literacy success in middle school

One discussion about media literacy can benefit hundreds of children. 
Join the conversation, spread the word, help kids stand up for themselves.

It was just a year ago that I talked with my son’s fifth grade teacher about the need to help children navigate through all the media messages they see every day. That teacher was inspired to create a three-part lesson for her students on deconstructing advertising, using materials and resources online through the Media Awareness Network. In class, the kids loved talking about a subject that was so relevant to their lives. They were fully engaged in the activities and discussion, at a time – near the end of the school year –  when it would otherwise be difficult to keep their attention.

In the fall, that teacher and I talked about what next steps we could take. We decided to apply for a grant to the local education foundation to bring in more formal training so that teachers could learn to integrate media literacy into their own classrooms. I did the research and she built support among the staff and administration and brought in the school librarian, also a passionate supporter.

Yesterday, the three of us learned we had won the grant. The training will go forward just before the next school year. What a happy success!

What started with a 3-unit class for 25 fifth graders, will now grow to a 12-unit curriculum that will benefit all of the fifth graders, and will continue to benefit those kids throughout their lives. It will also be sustainable in that the teachers will have gained critical new knowledge that they can use in their classrooms to benefit all their future students, and can pass along to other teachers.

This particular curriculum has a health focus, and teaches children about the media messages they are receiving about tobacco, alcohol, unhealthy food and bullying. I learned yesterday at the ACME conference that the research shows very clearly that children who learn to deconstruct alcohol and tobacco advertising change their attitudes and expectations about smoking and drinking.

It is so important for all of our children to have an opportunity to learn about how they are being targeted and exploited by media messages, and to give them a fighting chance to stand up to those messages. It’s only fair that children aren’t sent out into that battle unarmed. It all started with a conversation between a parent and a teacher. And now hundreds of children will benefit. Please join me and start talking to build support at your school.


  1. Erin, Love this. Congratulations! Quoted you at the following link:

  2. Cool! Also, that's a great article on how advertising defines your child's gender. So insidious. Nice work, Marina. That video is very revealing.

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