This multi week unit includes all the necessary resources needed to set up a discussion forum based research project that asks students to carry out independent research related to a few basic tenants of media literacy and crowdsourse solutions to questions developed from their research. The unit is divided into three sections, each with a required post and reply. For each of the three sections, I have included directions, rubrics, teacher made examples and examples of student work. Conceptually, the three sections are divided as follows:
• Section 1: Verifying claims in written media text. Students focus on closely reading, summarizing and developing questions about informational text. When students reply, they focus on turning questions into queries for effective research, citing sources and validating claims made by informational text.
• Section 2: Students examine several headlines from various news sources and form arguments about the legitimacy of certain headlines being used to draw attention to a site. When students reply, they focus on constructing arguments about the legitimacy of the chosen headlines and what alternative stories could have been used.
• Section 3: Students closely examine a multimedia example of advertising, and focus on summarizing and forming questions about claims made directly and indirectly through both written and visual text. When students reply, they focus on turning questions into queries for effective research, citing sources and validating claims made both directly and indirectly through the media text..
When I set this discussion forum unit up, I used a free district resource for setting up discussion forums for my students. If you don’t have a similar resources, www.schoology.com and www.wikispaces.com are great resources for setting up a similar system. Basically, what you’re looking for is a site where students can post and reply to one another, and you have access to all the writing they do.
My suggestion is to include as many examples as possible for students to use as they work, and encourage them to read directions, read the rubrics and read examples prior to asking me questions. With that system in place, a large percentage of my students are able to independently complete most of this assignment.
Also, depending on the amount of time you have available for students to work in the computer lab, forum #2 could be used as a differentiated activity for students who are above grade level in your class, as the directions are the most complex to follow.