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Constructivist Media Decoding: Media Literacy and Critical Thinking in Social Studies

July 24, 2017 to July 26, 2017

Question, Engage, Empower 

Join NCSS and Project Look Sharp (Ithaca College’s media literacy initiative) at the Newseum to learn Constructivist Media Decoding (CMD) theory, analyze models, access resources and develop activities for practice in your classroom. In this 3 day workshop, you'll gain the knowledge, skills, materials and practice in developing and delivering inquiry-based media analysis activities in social studies. Participants will receive individual feedback, reflect with colleagues, and finalize integration plans using diverse media documents and inquiry-based techniques that integrate critical thinking and literacy skills with core social studies content. This work will be balanced with engaging mini-workshops from the Newseum and Project Look Sharp.

Draft Agenda

  • Day 1:  Introduction to media (from books to Facebook), media literacy (particularly the ability to analyze and evaluate all media), Constructivist Media Decoding (CMD), and application to the C3 Framework (especially questioning, applying evidence and developing conclusions), and an intro to NewseumEd.
  • Day 2: We will return to key issues raised on Monday related the challenges of teaching relevant, engaging, standards and inquiry-based activities about complex social content.  An activity and/or presentation by Newseum that will help participants develop individual activity plans.
  • Day 3:  We will close with brief workshops related to the key issues from the institute (e.g. Fake News, facilitating challenging conversations, skepticism vs. cynicism, dealing with our own biases) followed by participants leading practice decoding sessions and presenting their integration plans for the fall.

Following the training participants will have individual coaching and a few online group meetings as they develop CMD activity plans, lead activities in their classes and reflect with their support group on classroom practice.

The training will address these questions:

  • How can I prepare my students for active, empowered and thoughtful citizenship in their media-saturated world?
  • How can I shift my practice to be more inquiry-based, interactive and student centered while also covering the content?
  • How can I make my teaching truly relevant to the lives of all my students but particularly my least engaged students?
  • How can I do this if I don’t have the time in class to cover my content as it is?
  • How can I do this if I don’t have the prep. time to find the right documents, the expertise to design the right questions, or the understanding of how to facilitate effective media decoding activities?
  • What questions should I consider when having my students analyze media messages?
  • How do I armor my students against the appeal of information (e.g. fake news) that merely confirms their biases?
  • How do I teach students to think critically, independently and rigorously about the media, about all information and about their own thinking?
  • How do I facilitate the development of the life-long metacognitive skills, attitudes and habits necessary to for democratic agency in a rapidly changing society.

Presenter: Chris Sperry, Director of Curriculum and Staff Development for Project Look Sharp, has taught middle and high school social studies, English and media studies for over 30 years in Ithaca, New York. He is the author of numerous curriculum kits related to global studies and U.S. history and articles about integrating media literacy and critical thinking into the curriculum. He is the recipient of the National Council for the Social Studies 2008 Award for Global Understanding, and the 2005 National PTA and Cable Leaders in Learning Award for Media Literacy.

Registration Fee: $465 NCSS Members / $515 NCSS nonmembers* (3 day onsite workshop; access to Newseum and its resources; 4 follow-up sessions: 1-individualized coaching session online or via phone, 3 online group meetings; and all associated materials)

*nonmember registration includes 1 year membership to NCSS for new members, valued at $72. If you wish to opt out, please contact upon receipt of registration confirmation. Registration fee will not change.

Event Location: 
555 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20001