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Is Your School Participating in Media Literacy Week?

Between October 31 and November 4, teachers across the country are joining NAMLE, its partners and sponsors, in community events and classroom activities infused with lessons in media literacy. logo-fullcolorwithnameGuest post by Alicia Haywood, NAMLE Manager of Engagement

Yes! The 2nd annual Media Literacy Week is upon us. How are you celebrating? My own celebration begins with gratitude for this opportunity to connect with you here and share my excitement. It’s my favorite time of the year because we, as educators who care about the role media plays in our students’ lives, unite to raise awareness of the importance of this movement.

Educators, parents, advocates, and policy makers are rethinking the way schools operate, and media literacy needs to be at the forefront of this evolution. If we just take a moment to disconnect from the dizzying barrage of cringe-worthy sound bites, violent images and live streams, fluff disguised as fact, nonstop sales pitches, in this historic presidential campaign season alone… can we honestly say that the value of media literacy education is still in question?

Simply put, media literacy is about empowerment—fortifying brain cells with the ability to critically assess media exposure, consumption, influence, and its omnipresence in our lives.

Last year, the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) hosted Media Literacy Week in the United States for the first time ever. Now here we are, again, fired up with more than 140 national partners, to convey why media literacy is essential for thriving in this media saturated digital culture. It should not be optional.

So who am I and what am I doing here?

I am a media producer who recognizes that the power of media is stunning. And yes, it’s alarming, but it is also invigorating because there’s room for anyone to not only respond to it but contribute to the mix. For that reason, I am also an educator devoted to making sure the value in this is clear. We have unlimited opportunities to uplift the positive impact and minimize any negative effects. The movement is global now.

I’ve dropped by here to ask what you’re doing there—wherever you are—to engage your students as critical consumers and thoughtful producers of media during Media Literacy Week. Between October 31 and November 4, teachers across the country are joining NAMLE, its partners and sponsors, in community events and classroom activities infused with lessons in media literacy. No, it’s not too late to participate! Resources, ideas, and details of what’s happening from coast to coast can be found at MediaLiteracyWeek.us. Join us.

If you’re still even the slightest bit unsure, consider this: young people are spending nearly 11 hours per day engaged with media. Meanwhile, food and beverage marketers are spending $150 million to reach the K-12 population directly in schools. 92% of youth are online daily yet, here in the US, millennials rank last or in the bottom half (out of 22 countries) for skills in numeracy, literacy, and problem-solving. Can we agree that something is out of balance? Media literacy is key to challenging any uneven influence and positioning media as part of the solution.

If you’re concerned about not having enough time to plan something for this week, I ask you to at least pledge to think critically about the media you consume and create, while getting your students to commit to do the same. Let us hear from you on Twitter @MediaLiteracyEd #MediaLitWk. Then, get started on next year’s plans!

From there, join NAMLE so we can keep this momentum going year round. NAMLE is a professional association of educators, academics, activists, and students with a passion for understanding how the media we use and create affect our lives and the lives of others in our communities and around the world. Individual memberships are free.

With infinite respect for the crucial work that you do guiding the next generation…

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