The 3 M’s: Media, Middle School, Mindfulness
By ILENE SQUIRES LACOURT
The 3M’s program works to bring middle school communities together by offering an alternative way for middle schoolers to broach the topic of screen time and social media in a safe and moderated environment. Students will use animated shorts, commercials, PSA’s, and social media content to dissect and extract the intentions and impacts of each. The goal is to help middle schoolers become more mindful of how they spend their screen time.
Students will use five essential questions below in concert with various media, to reflect more critically about their current media consumption, habits, and intentions. The 3M’s was created to shine a light on the undeniable influence the media has on persuading and influencing the decisions young people make.
The 5 Essential Media Literacy Questions
WHO created this?
WHAT is the message in the media?
WHY was it created?
HOW does the message get my attention?
WHO is represented in the media and who is missing? WHY?
Media Literacy is this generation’s civic education. Hobbs and Frost (2003) investigated a media literacy course that was integrated into a yearlong high school English curriculum. Seven 11th grade English language arts teachers, three of whom attended a weeklong institute on teaching media awareness, selected texts to use in common and developed assignments that included analysis of television shows, news, and political speeches along with classic and contemporary literature. Although based offline rather than online media literacy, the study found that explicit media literacy instruction increased both traditional literacy skills, such as reading comprehension and writing, and more specific media-related skills, including identification of techniques various media use to influence audiences.
A strong media literacy education can help develop critical thinking skills by strengthening observation and interpretation. For example, students can examine and challenge the stereotypes, biases, and hidden motivation of the producers.
Media plays a leading role in the spread of overtly and covertly discriminatory messages and images, contributing to the attitudinal scaffolding for systemic racism. The 3M’s empowers youth with equal access to education and who are mobilized toward understanding, critiquing, and re-envisioning the media systems that uphold racism, inequity, and violence.
Adopt & Adapt
The 3M’s teaching resources including suggested media and lesson plans will be available on our website and is designed to be replicated and disseminated widely. Ideal implementation of this program would be in a homeroom, advisory setting, civics course and/ or ELA class.
Teaching artist support can be provided remotely, or classroom teachers could reach out to teaching artists in their community for additional ideas, facilitating discussions and support in creating final student shorts. The 3M’s calls for no more than wifi access to visit various media channels and can be integrated with existing content or stand alone as the spotlight content.
Educators working in civic minded schools with a focus on literacy will find this program most valuable. The 3m’s is designed to meet students where they are – which is in front of their screens – and equip them with the skills they need to consume and create media more responsibly.