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Susan O'Rourke | December 10, 2021

UNC World View looks forward to the start of a new year and the continued engagement with global themes and events in classrooms. As educators prepare to discuss important environmental, cultural, political, and economic events, we want to share resources on media literacy. Incorporating media literacy into classroom discussions creates great opportunities for students to practice rhetorical analysis and evaluate the power behind language, the selection of evidence, the structure of an argument, and the emotional impact of images or videos accompanying a publication. These lessons can also teach students important research skills as they learn where to search for credible (and even scholarly) sources and as they evaluate the intended purpose and audience for each publication, post, or video.


Teaching media literacy is especially important as students increasingly engage with social media. According to a 2018 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 85% of teens surveyed “say they use YouTube,” 72% “say they use Instagram,” 69% “say they use Snapchat,” 51% “say they use Facebook,” and 32% “say they use Twitter.” The researchers in this study further found that “95% of teens now report they have a smartphone or access to one” and “5% of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis.”

Several organizations have created lessons and tools for educators looking to teach media literacy and evaluate bias. Facing History & Ourselves, for example, has put together a guide that can help students reflect on their media consumption, evaluate bias, and plan how they will “adopt…healthy news habits.” Broken into a series of three activities, the guide asks students to talk through questions including:

  • “How do you learn about what’s happening in your community, your country, and around the world?
  • How do you get your news? (from peers, parents, teachers, newspapers or magazines, online news sources, social media?)
  • Why is [a particular] event controversial?
  • How will you try to become aware of and overcome confirmation bias when you respond to news and information?
  • Why is this important? What effect does the way we all consume news and media have on our society? On our ability to live up to the ideals of democracy?”

We hope these resources will help enrich classroom discussions as educators continue to bring global events into their local classrooms.


Media Literacy Lessons

Resources for Analyzing News and Current Events

Resources for Building Respectful Dialogue