What is Media?: A Presentation for K-8th Graders

Yesterday, Park Day School in Oakland, CA kicked off their annual CARE Week (Campaign for Acceptance, Respect and Empathy).  Their theme this year is MEDIA and their whole school, kindergarten through 8th grade, will dig deeper into various forms of Media, how it relates to their lives and what it has to do with creating a culture of empathy and compassion.  I was invited to be the opening assembly to kick off CARE Week for the school.

First, I worked with a small group of 3rd graders – exploring the definition of Media and the functions of Media to 1) Inform 2) Entertain and 3) Persuade.  Then, we all worked on a short play to share with their schoolmates.  The play, in addition to being just plain ridiculous fun for the rest of the school to watch, grounded the overall message of the purpose and place of Media in our lives by showing how information, entertainment and persuasion interact in one story.

Here is a brief glimpse into my presentation:

Here is the powerpoint I shared with the group:

The number one thing I learned from creating this presentation is how complex media is for ALL of us and how important it is to talk to our kids about it, as much as possible.  As adults, we can’t just expose them to all of the media out there and hope for the best.  We also can’t just limit their media time and assume that that will protect them.  Media is all around us.  A lot of it has the power to make great social change.  A lot of it has the power to do serious harm.  This is why we must dare to explore it and unpack it with our kids so that they develop the tools to notice, ask critical questions, and produce media for themselves that creates the world they want to live in.
If you dare to carry on this conversation with your kids or students, here a links to some must-know-about resources:
And finally, here is a link to the pics that I used  in the video.  I got them online from a standard Google search.  I like these pics because they are evocative – they tell stories – and are great tools for initiating a conversation with your kids.  You can ask them:
  1. What do you see in this picture?  What information is it giving you?
  2. Now, notice what is going on in your body?  What feelings come up when you look at this picture?  Where do the feelings live in your body?
  3. What do you think this picture might be persuading you to do, if anything?

This issue is very important to me.  In our upcoming Go Girls! programs in 2013, we will doing a lot more media literacy with the girls as part of their social/emotional education. I would like to continue this media exploration with you and your family/students.  Let me know what resources you have used or found.  Maybe we can find a way to partner and/or support each other.

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2 thoughts on “What is Media?: A Presentation for K-8th Graders

  1. As a former teacher at Park Day School and a current collaborator with the school, I was excited to hear about Lynn’s presentation. Always a big thinker; always reaching out to collaborate with others for the benefit of kids. Bravo!

    • Lynn Johnson says:

      Thanks Sam! It was fantastic to partner with PDS and especially on this particular topic. I personally got a lot out of it and I hope that I will get an opportunity to return to Park Day School in the future.

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