Daily Video

November 9, 2018

How media literacy helps teachers and students talk about gun violence



Directions: Read the summary, watch the video (be sure to preview) and then answer the discussion questions below. All of this week’s discussion questions have been based around media literacy since it is Media Literacy Week! Your students may find it helpful to follow along using the transcriptFor more information, read NewsHour’s What we know about the California mass shooting


Note: If you are a teacher, parent or concerned adult, you may want to use NewsHour’s resource, How to talk with children in the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting, with information from a variety of organizations and for students of all ages. Use the resource that works best for you and keep in mind this idea by PBS’ Lydia Breisith who writes, “Remember that it is ok to admit that you don’t have all of the answers. Mr. Rogers offers the following: ‘If the answer is ‘I don’t know,’ then the simplest reply might be something like, ‘I’m sad about the news, and I’m worried. But I love you, and I’m here to care for you.'”


Summary: On Wednesday night, at least 12 people including a sheriff’s deputy were killed in a mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The shooter, 28-year-old Ian David Long, a Marine Corps veteran, is also dead. California’s Democratic lieutenant governor, Gavin Newsom, was elected governor just this week. “This can’t be normalized. This is just remarkable, just another day in America, but, tragically, now, in our state,” Newsom said.


Media literacy discussion questions: 


1) Have you heard the term “media literacy” before? Break it down. What does the word “media” mean? What does the word “literacy” mean? Now put the two words together. What did you come up with? While the concept of media literacy has been around longer than you might think, there are actually several definitions. Here’s one from NAMLE (National Association for Media Literacy Education):


Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and act using all forms of communication. In its simplest terms, media literacy builds upon the foundation of traditional literacy and offers new forms of reading and writing. Media literacy empowers people to be critical thinkers and makers, effective communicators and active citizens.


2) Based on the definition above, do you think it’s important to think critically about the news you consume when it comes to serious events, including the mass shooting in California? Explain your answer.


3) Read the comment again by California’s Governor-elect Gavin Newsom. What does Newsom mean when he says “This can’t be normalized.” Who in society may be “normalizing” the issue of mass shootings or gun violence, whether intentionally or unintentionally? What are your suggestions for holding a thoughtful discussion in school on the issue of mass shootings in America? What about at home?


4) News outlets sometimes include a toll-free support number or a website at the end of their story or in a sidebar that readers or viewers may turn to if they need help, particularly if the issue is of a serious nature, including gun violence. Do you think this is a good idea? Why or why not?


5) If you are feeling upset for any reason about hearing or discussing the issue of gun violence, please know that you are not alone. Who could students speak with if they would like to share how they’re feeling about gun violence that’s more private than a class setting?


Extension activity:


The rise of gun violence at school campuses makes it more difficult for students and educators to focus on learning when concerned about safety. Watch this video produced by students of New Tech High School in Coppell, Texas. Instruction provided by SRL Connected Educator Janelle Bence. Please preview before showing to your students.


  • Focus question: What point resonated with you the most in this video? Why?


  • Media literacy question: Whose voices were included in this piece? Whose voices would you like to have heard more from? What factors may limit how many voices a journalist may include in their story? 



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