This is an adorable clip from a more recent Sesame Street episode. I remember watching the Street as a kid and being a little confused about the monsters. I knew that my friends were boys or girls, but the monsters didn’t seem to be either. However, most of the monsters seem to be boys, until recently that is. These monsters, Zoe, Rosita, and Abby, are excited to have found similar interests together as girls. 

Reading a text is probably the most important part of being media literate. Whether it is reading books, movies, or TV, the reader picks out meanings from the text, or finds meanings that are similar to their surroundings. Let’s see what meanings are in this clip:

  • Little monsters can be girls too!
  • Abby uses the term “guys” to address her female clique. The slang has become common place, not only to speak about a group of mixed gender but to convey closeness of friends.
  • Each of the girls learns to open up about her feelings of loneliness. She feels comfortable in the intimate group of girls.
  • Although they’re pretty goofy, the description of friendship the girls is genuine. If anything, friends should be the group in which you feel most able to let loose! Little boys aren’t the only ones who want to yell, jump, and act out.
  • Sesame Street makes a conscious effort to include a diversity of ethnicities–even in their monster cast members

Clearly, reading in print and on the Internet are different. On paper, text has a predetermined beginning, middle and end, where readers focus for a sustained period on one author’s vision. On the Internet, readers skate through cyberspace at will and, in effect, compose their own beginnings, middles and ends.

Some literacy experts say that reading itself should be redefined. Interpreting videos or pictures, they say, may be as important a skill as analyzing a novel or a poem.

—  Motoko Rich
[Maryanne] Wolf worries that the style of reading promoted by the Net, a style that puts “efficiency” and “immediacy” above all else, may be weakening our capacity for the kind of deep reading that emerged when an earlier technology, the printing press, made long and complex works of prose commonplace. When we read online, she says, we tend to become “mere decoders of information.” Our ability to interpret text, to make the rich mental connections that form when we read deeply and without distraction, remains largely disengaged.
—  Nicholas Carr

Art project: Color Wheel

This project will introduce kids to colors, both primary and secondary. To illustrate mixing colors try having them make the secondary colors using only primary colored crayons. The colors may be a little muddy, but the idea is that you don’t need a green crayon when you have blue and yellow!

Kids can do this project a few different ways, using different media.

  • Simply drawing on paper w/ crayons or markers
  • Making a collage out of magazine pages
  • On a computer program like Word (that’s what I used) - “drawing” and “filling” circles with each color

For another level of creativity introduce kids to Google Images where they can look for pictures of objects that correspond with each color. With this method kids need to start connecting concepts like the color of fruits and veggies or color in nature.

the daily show 3/15

(For some reason Tumblr doesn’t recognize video links from The Daily Show’s site. Apologies. PLEASE watch the whole episode.)

John Oliver’s phenomenal coverage of the cuts to UNESCO funding by the U.S.!

This is frustrating on two levels for me; first, having lived and worked with primary and secondary students at a girls’ orphanage in Kenya, and second, having spent this semester studying media literacy and education. UNESCO has been one of the most involved advocates of media literacy education that I’ve found. It’s such a shame that the U.S. would cut off funding in order to make a point (and blame their action on being bound by law). However, I’m actually encouraged that where the U.S. ignores and forsakes the world’s needs, other countries have stepped in; especially a country that may know the needs of the impoverished and needy better than the U.S. does.
It's a Book, by Lane Smith

Prof. David Buckingham does a great job summarizing the social and psychological paradigm shifts in relation to kids and media that have occurred over the last several decades. Most importantly, society as a whole has undergone a process of intense individualizing so that the final product (culture) is always changing depending on your perspective. Kids who are growing up in the Technological Age have a “constructivist” understanding of culture in which meaning is not static, but is interpreted and re-interpreted by active cultural participants. Media, as a part of the constructed culture, have a diversity of meaning themselves and can be critically analyzed by adults and kids alike!

Kids are immersed in a culture that is becoming more and more technologically advanced. Lane Smith illustrates (literally) the paradigm shift that I’ll be talking about in the weeks to come. I won’t ruin the ending, instead you should find it at your local library.