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Constructivist Media Decoding in the Social Studies

July 24, 2017 to July 26, 2017

Question, Engage, Empower 

In an age of Alternative Facts, how do we teach and motivate our students to develop habits of questioning and reflection tied to our core content in the social studies?

Join Project Look Sharp (Ithaca College’s highly-respected media literacy initiative) at the Newseum for a dynamic 3-day workshop that will change your teaching practice.  You will walk away with new understandings of media literacy approaches, ways to address content knowledge, practice with new pedagogies, curriculum materials that you can use immediately in your classroom, and a plan for classroom integration.

Draft Agenda

  • Day 1:  Introduction to the pedagogy of and practice of media literacy integration at any grade level for a wide range of social studies topics. Constructivist Media Decoding - models, methods and materials. Applying media literacy to the C3 Framework.  An introduction to NewseumED.
  • Day 2: Issues and challenges of teaching relevant, engaging, standards-based and inquiry-based activities about complex and controversial social content. Participants begin to develop integration plans with coaching support. Newseum lead mini-sessions on Fake News, photojournalism and more.
  • Day 3:  Brief workshops and targeted discussions related to the key issues for social studies (e.g., facilitating challenging conversations, skepticism vs. cynicism, dealing with our own biases, engaging a diverse range of students). Media literacy and assessment. Participants practice leading decoding sessions and share their integration plans for the fall.

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 my classroom to be inquiry-based, interactive and student-centered while also teaching core knowledge?
  • How can I make my teaching relevant to my least engaged students?
  • How do I deal with biases, my students and my own, when dealing with personally charged issues?
  • Where do I find the right media literacy materials for my specific content?
  • What questions should I consider when having my students analyze media messages?
  • How do I armor my students against the appeal of information that merely confirms their biases?
  • How do I teach students to think critically, independently and rigorously about media, about all information, and about their own thinking?

In the months following the 3-day workshop, you will have opportunities for individual coaching and online conversations with other educators to provide support and feedback as you develop your own activities, lead media decodings with your students, and reflect on classroom practice.


Chris Sperry, Director of Curriculum and Staff Development for Project Look Sharp, has taught secondary social studies and media studies for over 35 years in Ithaca, New York.  He is the author of numerous curriculum kits related to global studies and U.S. history and co-author of the NCSS Position Paper on Media Literacy.  Chris is the recipient of the NCSS 2008 Award for Global Understanding.

Dr. Cyndy Scheibe, founder and Executive Director of Project Look Sharp, is Professor of Psychology at Ithaca College and founding director of the Center for Research on the Effects of Television.  She is co-author of The Teacher’s Guide to Media Literacy: Critical Thinking in a Multimedia Age and many other publications on media literacy and media effects.

Registration Fee: $350 NCSS Members / $395 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.

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Washington, DC 20001