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Executive Director's Message: In Medias Res

As NCSS once again supports the National Association of Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) as a Media Literacy Week partner, we are reminded of how media literacy is a fundamental part of inquiry-based social studies learning. We demonstrate media literacy whenever we use a source of information as evidence to ask and answer questions about the world around us. The key questions we should ask about any source of information that we find and use – about audience and authorship, messages and meanings, and representations and reality – are carefully nurtured and shaped over time. This week may be Media Literacy Week, but every day throughout the year is an important opportunity for social studies classrooms to unpack primary and secondary sources, to examine the multiple perspectives and viewpoints presented by sources, and to draw conclusions and take informed action based on the evidence presented. This Media Literacy Week, let’s re-commit lifelong inquiry and informed civic action by building our individual and collective skills as savvy consumers (and producers!) of media.

Much is being written about this week and the significance of media literacy in our general K-12 school curriculum, so I will keep my remarks brief (maybe not Tweet-length, though!) and offer a resource and an opportunity through NCSS to “consider the source” this week and beyond. I invite you to discover or re-visit our own 2016 Media Literacy position statement. In three succinct pages, NCSS includes vital questions to ask when analyzing media messages, curriculum resources, and sample inquiry-based activities at every grade level. This statement can help to transform your instructional practice into a media-rich one. I also encourage you to use this statement in your own social studies advocacy, to showcase media literacy in practice that supports inquiry in your classroom, and does not require a major curriculum overhaul to develop the kinds of inquiry-based learning we love to see through media-rich instruction!

I also want to remind all members that NCSS is still accepting applications through our Call For Expertise to develop elementary and secondary online methods texts on teaching with primary sources for pre-service educators. This is an outstanding opportunity for NCSS members to contribute to vital new resources that place the power and potential of primary sources in inquiry-based classrooms. Teaching with primary sources is teaching media literacy. We hope you will consider contributing to our exciting new project, graciously supported by the Library of Congress’ Teaching with Primary Sources Program! Your participation is a wonderful way to strengthen media literacy in social studies.

I must conclude by welcoming you to our 99th Annual Conference in just one month! There’s still plenty of time to register and learn more about our exciting program of speakers, sessions, clinics, and special events. I hope to see you in Austin for our first co-located conference, with our partners at the National Council for Geographic Education and the Texas Council for the Social Studies. We will keep posting conference information online, so follow @NCSSNetwork for all things #ncss19!

Happy Media Literacy Week!