Teaching Tools

21st Century Skills in the Classroom

21st Century Skills in the Classroom

Posted by: San Francisco Film Society

Media Literacy is the ability to analyze, evaluate and understand media messages.

The new literacies almost all involve social skills developed through collaboration and networking. These skills build on the foundation of traditional literacy, research skills, technical skills and critical analysis skills taught in the classroom.

—Henry Jenkins, “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century”

Media Literacy and Classroom Filmmaking

Promoting and supporting media literacy and 21st century skills within the classroom is a key goal of any classroom filmmaking program. Through the acts of making, watching and learning about film and media, students become better equipped to deconstruct and understand the media that they encounter daily in a world crowded with imagery, messaging and digital information.

Why is Media Literacy Important?

In order to be realized creative thinkers and makers, students need to understand the imagery that they encounter in their everyday lives. Media arts instruction enables students to engage constructively with the growing digital landscape of the modern world. As both consumers and creators of media, young people need a complete understanding of how it is constructed.

How Do We Achieve Media Literacy in the Classroom?

Through a coordinated approach that involves watching and deconstructing films as well as making their own media, students learn how media is constructed. They make their own choices and analyze other artists’ choices regarding the use of different mediums, artistic and authorial vision, what content is presented, who is the intended audience, and what is the purpose of the content.

The combination of making and watching films helps students learn to tell their own stories and to become media literate. FilmEd. does not provide a prescriptive list of films that should be watched in the classroom, since instructors, students, learning needs, and projects vary, but we do offer viewing guides for select films we have worked with in our Lesson Exchange section. We recommend that your students watch films that are age appropriate, relevant to the work they will be doing and, most importantly, that they spend time thinking critically about what they’ve watched. 

Classroom teachers and filmmaker instructors are encouraged to work together to select the films or film clips you will watch and discuss as part of your media arts program.

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