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Media Literacy 101: Topics to Explore Category
Careful Packaging

There are no accidents in the ways in which media are packaged. Lessons and activities in this section encourage taking a second and more critical look at what appear to be seamless constructions of reality, tearing apart the seams and analyzing the resulting pieces.


Media are Constructions
Participants explore how media are constructed, and examine the importance of considering the media makers’ perspective when drawing conclusions as an audience. Instructors may choose from a list of 8 different activities, including selections from Chris M. Worsnop’s Media Literacy Through Critical Thinking.

Taking Another Look: Deconstructing Media
Using student workbooks from Chris M. Worsnop’s Media Literacy Through Critical Thinking, participants explore what it means to “take another look” at media, and to analyze media texts for meaning, purpose, and target audience.


Meet the Design Team
To better understand how ads achieve their communication objectives, participants analyze print ads or television commercials from the point of view of the design team that created them.

Production Notes
By examining television commercials for elements such as story line, character, and soundtrack, participants learn how to write production notes like those used by advertisers during the creative development phase of commercial production.

Reading Body Language
Many ads use body language to communicate their media messages. By recreating the physical positioning of models in a sample ad or film still, and then discussing how the interactions make them feel, youth explore how body language can create meaning.

Reading Physical Appearances
Through examination of visual detail, participants explore how physical appearance can communicate information in print ads or film sequences.

Countering the Image with Sound
To explore how television commercials use sound and music to communicate information, participants record a new soundtrack for an existing commercial that counters the meaning of the visual image.

Name That Commercial
Commercials often use sound codes to make their messages memorable. To examine the importance of sound codes, participants try to name products advertised in radio commercials using only written descriptions of the ads.

Sound / No Sound
Participants observe and analyze the use of sound in television commercials by viewing selected examples first with sound, then without. Discussion encourages description of how sound communicates information.

Tilt-ups, Tilt-downs
Perspective can be used to communicate meaning. Youth examine how photographers can use camera angle to change the mood or message of an image.

Visit with Special Effects Expert
Participants locate a technician or technical artist in their community and prepare some interview questions.

Playing With Images
Ads use slogans to give meaning to images. By changing the image and leaving the slogan, participants alter the intended meaning of existing print ads.

Digital Image Manipulation: Art or Deception?
Digital retouching allows photographers to be more creative in their work. Is this constructed reality a deception of the public, or a kind of digital art? Participants debate.

Other Instructional Materials

How to Use Your Observation Form
This chart helps both beginners and advanced students deconstruct media messages by examining story, visual codes, sound codes, print, technical codes and mood in order to interpret and evaluate media texts. A how-to guide is presented along with a blank chart for youth to fill in.


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