Sunday, December 28, 2008

Media Literacy (a.k.a. Star Wars Literacy)

My oldest son, who is a six-year-old first grader, has a major interest in Star Wars, he loves the whole world that George Lucas and his "people" created. Today we sat down and watched some of the Star Wars movies, and then my son decided it was time to do some reading. We got on the public library website and reserved a few of the Star Wars books they had on the shelf.

What this really got me to thinking about it how media influences literacy, which is a "DUH" statement to anybody in the field, but is something that people like to sweep under the rug as they continue to read Little House on the Prairie and use outdated textbooks.

Media literacy is no longer something that we can ignore in the classroom. Our students are out there watching movies, they're out there playing video games, listening to music and podcasts on their iPods, and watching video clips, reading pages of information, and chatting on the internet.

Digital literacy is something I've discussed in the pages of this blog on numerous occasions, but today, I wanted to remind myself and my readers about media literacy as a pathway to get your students to read.

I went to a Scholastic warehouse sale last year, and found piles and piles of Star Wars books, that have sat on my shelf for nearly a year and have been checked out and completed by numerous students. I had a trio of male students just before Christmas all go together to the store and pick up Star Wars: Clone Wars, and read it together during silent/individual reading time.

I'm a little more old school when it comes to books and movies, I think that the books are almost always better (if they were written first and the movie adapted afterwards). Of course, this doesn't take into account series like Star Wars, which have literally hundreds of novels, comics, cartoon series, and even fan zines out there continuing the story. So much of this goes on with Star Wars, in fact, that the Holocron was created, in order to separate "canon" from non-official stories. What started as a neat movie in the '70s has become the source of a near endless world of books and other literary works.

OK, this post jumped all over the place a little bit, but it's just another reason that teachers need to understand the multi-dimensional reality of today's child that we must account for in the classroom. It's just something to think about, and discuss more.