1. What motivated you to write Close Reading the Media?
“Close Reading The Media” grew out of an idea I had after writing a regular, monthly column for MiddleWeb.com. Those monthly columns examined popular culture and current events and suggested ways teachers could engage students while also meeting those all important teaching standards.
So, for example, during the election cycle (usually early Fall), I wrote about analyzing political campaign commercials. Toward the of the year, when the airwaves are full of toy ads, I encouraged teachers to consider using these popular culture texts to teach argument and techniques of persuasion as well as techniques of production. February is Black History Month and I chose to profile photographer/filmmaker Gordon Parks. I have also written about film genres, civil rights, war reporting and may other topics involving the media.
2. From the book, what is your favorite strategy/piece of advice?
I don’t have a favorite strategy or piece of advice, but I am always urging teachers to become familiar with the 5 Key Concepts of Media Literacy and the corresponding Key Questions. (http://www.medialit.org/reading-room/five-key-questions-form-foundation-media-inquiry
These are quintessential for teachers and students to understand and to put into practice. I even suggest that teachers enlarge both documents as posters and place in the room where all students can see them and get accustomed to using them.
3. Tell us one of your favorite stories about a student you’ve worked with.
Most of my work is with teachers, but I sometimes get the opportunity to go into a classroom and work with students. Some years back, I had just finished a Media Literacy 101 introduction with students. As they were packing up to leave the class, I overheard one young lady say to her friend: “I’ll never look at a commercial the same way again.”
I thought: this is great, this is exactly what I want to do—instill some health skepticism and critical thinking and viewing skills.
4. What has been one of the proudest moments of your education career so far?
I am incredibly proud that about five years ago, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, invited me to conduct their first ever film/media literacy workshop with Los Angeles-area educators. While there, I had a comprehensive tour of the Academy’s facilities and got to see up close, Gregory Peck’s personal “To Kill A Mockingbird” screenplay. As a result of that teacher workshop, I was later invited to contribute content to their published film study guides and to work with students during one of their annual media literacy days. Since then I have created a “Language of Film’ website resource page and continue to include movie clips in my workshops in order to help teachers better engage students.
5. And finally, please tell us your favorite thing about being in Education in one word.