Exploring Resources: A Closer Look at “Media Studies”

In my “Exploring Resources” blog posts, I will be looking at some key resources in literacy studies that can be useful to educators and parents. It will mostly be in relation to teaching in the Ontario context and the Ontario Language Curriculum.

ipad of trees

Ohi, D. & Carroll P., 2013. Ipad Made Of Trees. Illustrated comic. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1OdNupY

As 2015 nears completion, it is more and more obvious that technology and culture studies have become important tools/avenues to increase student engagement. Today, I would like to examine a resource I found that looks at one of many ways to bring media and popular culture into the classroom to achieve curriculum objectives. Middleweb is a website targeted towards educators and parents of students between grades 4-8. It is primarily a blog-based interface. The content is separated into five major streams: Resource Roundups, Themed Blogs, Guest Articles, Book Reviews, and Interviews. The specific resource post I chose to explore is, Media Literacy: Learning from the Oscars” by Frank Baker. This is an article submitted by a guest writer who shares ideas about using film and movies in the classroom. I would like to start with Baker’s film resources and extend the exploration of media literacy into movie trailers/advertisements while highlighting relevance to the Ontario Language Curriculum.


The Oscars is a very popular award show in the United States, and the same goes for Canada. Bell Media reported that 13 million unique viewers watched some or all of the 2015 Oscars. The Ontario Curriculum encourages examining the impact and influence of mass media and popular culture by examining such texts as films, songs, video games, advertisements, television shows, and more.

Where to begin with film? Some starting points:

  • Educators should stress an importance on the steps they use to introduce film.

Baker’s own website offers A Teacher’s Guide to The Academy Awards which gives a set of preparation activities and questions for an Oscar related lesson.

Here is a different sample from Baker’s guide to reading visual media for intermediate students. In the lesson, he exposes the students to film Wall-E for passive consumption first. Secondly, he gives them guiding questions to focus them on things to look for during the second viewing. After the second viewing, the students can share their observations.

  • Educators should also be aware of the multiples of ways we can analyze visual media.

The Academy Awards website also has a series of guides for middle and high school teachers to help facilitate lessons about films and motion pictures. These guides are great for studying film critically. Students can explore animation, lighting, sound, costume and make-up, and more. There are so many aspects of film to study, it is important for students to have clarity on what they are trying to identify and explore.

Baker also has an extensive resource catalog called “Language of Film” which curates resources, readings and recommendations on the many angles to analyze film such as editing, directing, costumes, production, scriptwriting, etc.

  • Is the end goal to simply analyze, or also to create?

After students have completed their analysis of film, it will be effective to introduce media creation as well. Let’s look at movie advertisements as a way to not only anaylze media, but also create it.


Almost every successful movie is boosted by it’s movie trailer. Movie trailers can also be critically examined media texts that can help achieve curriculum objectives.

Baker links Movie Trailers as Persuasive Texts, an article on his own website. This is a fantastic multi-link resource to check out. It includes an introduction to movie trailers, links to websites with movie trailers (including archives), links to NTCE resources on film trailers, and more!

After examining the elements of movie trailers and movie posters, teachers might be able to use certain media software such as Photoshop or Glogster to create their own posters. Students could also use apps such as iMovie or iMotion HD. (See this EduTopia post for app reviews.)


How can we use these resources effectively? Many of these great resources do not highlight their significance to the Ontario curriculum, but that is ok. The curriculum goals can easily be met by these resources. As an example, let’s take a look at the overall expectations for media literacy for Grade 7 in Ontario.


Ministry of Education, 2008. The Ontario Curriculum Grades 1-8 Language. Retrieved from https://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/language18currb.pdf

More specific objectives include,

  • interpreting messages of media texts
  • identifying conventions and techniques used in a variety of media forms
  • producing media texts, such as a movie poster or scene from a film

All of the above resources can help educators achieve these specific objects, and many more as well.

Another Canadian resource educators can consults is A guide toeffective literacy instruction, grades 4-6, volume seven – Media Literacy. There are examples for lessons such as “Lesson 1: deconstructing movie ads” and “Lesson 8: designing a movie poster” that satisfy curriculum expectations and can be greatly enhanced by combining structures with our other resources.

Lastly, I will leave you with a link to Media Smarts – another Canadian website that has great lesson plan resource with Canadian context and social issues. This is a must-check-out resource for educators as they start to craft lesson ideas for media literacy and film!

– A



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