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Massachusetts Curriculum Framework

English Language Arts
ADOPTED February 1997

Media Strand

The Learning Standards in the Media Strand set the expectation that students will become effective users of electronic media.

Why are electronic media important?

Computers, television, film, videos, and radio have become dominant modes of communication in the modern world. Communications technology is expanding, both in sophistication and availability. These media break down boundaries of time and place. Many places across the world are now connected electronically by the telephone, television, computer satellite, the Internet, or fiber optic cable. Television viewers can participate in a "live" event thousands of miles from where they sit. Linked by satellite, engineers on earth and astronauts in space can work together to make computerized adjustments to instruments on the exterior of a space shuttle. Teachers and students in Massachusetts can participate in arctic expeditions via the Internet.

Traditional texts are essentially linear, bound to the logic of language. Interpreting them requires readers' constant and active intellectual engagement. Producers of electronic media, on the other hand, often employ nonlinear forms of organization. Much of the electronic media is associative and collage-like, capable of bypassing intellect and connecting directly with the viewer's or "user's" emotions. For that reason, educators must teach students to understand and analyze the qualities of these new and powerful tools. When they teach from printed text, teachers show students the ways in which words and images are chosen for rhetorical and aesthetic purposes. When they teach about electronic media, they should pay equivalent attention to analyzing how moving images and sound, as well as words, become the focus of manipulation.

The greatest challenge electronic media present for teachers may be the sheer volume of data these media generate and make available to the general user. Computers, for example, are capable of networking a number of simultaneous users who may choose to read, listen to, or view an array of information. The continuing expansion of electronic media offers us an overabundance of information. Even the beginning user of the computer has, through the Internet, access to the card catalogues of most of the nation's major research libraries, the full texts of periodicals, and a seemingly endless number of other forms of information. CD-ROM technology offers students access to everything from complete encyclopedias to the full texts of books of literature or scientific reports. Students of the twenty-first century must become masters of this endless sea of data or risk being drowned in it. They must learn to select what is relevant, organize it, impose meaning on it, and use it effectively to solve problems.

Ways of Using Electronic Media

Several students in a fourth grade classroom collaborate in using hypercard and storyboarding to present their version of a favorite book. Sixth graders use a multimedia laser-disc from the National Gallery of Art to research famous artists and download images of art into their electronic reports. In a tenth grade English class, groups of students compare a recent film version of one of Jane Austen's novels with the book. Eleventh graders analyze and evaluate three versions of a major news event: newspaper coverage, televised news coverage, and a televised docudrama which retells the story. These students are actively involved in a media-based literacy activity. By translating stories from print to electronic media and by analyzing print and nonprint versions of the same text, students are discovering the advantages and limitations of various media.

Media Strand

Learning Standard 26: Students will obtain information by using a variety of media and evaluate the quality of material they obtain.

Grades Standard Examples
PreK-4 Use electronic media for research. PreK-2: Students view a program about communities from Sesame Street and chart the community helpers described in the program.(Connects with comprehensive health, history/social science)
3-4: In conducting research for a report on animals in their natural habitat, students use CD-ROM to gather information from multimedia as well as from reference books. Connects with science and technology)
5-8 Use a variety of media such as computerized card catalogs, on-line data bases, and electronic almanacs and encyclopedias for research. Emily
9-10 Compare and analyze how each medium offers a different perspective on the information it presents. (Connects with history/social science)
11-12 Select appropriate electronic media for research and evaluate the quality of information obtained. A student uses the Internet to obtain statistics on global warming from several sites; she checks the reliability of these on-line data by reading articles in scientific journals and by interviewing scientists at a local university.

*This Learning Standard is best assessed at the local level.

Media Strand

Learning Standard 27: Students will explain how the techniques used in electronic media modify traditional forms of discourse for different aesthetic and rhetorical purposes.

Grades Standard Examples
PreK-4 Identify techniques used in television and use their knowledge to distinguish between facts and misleading information. PreK-2: Students watch a film clip of a breakfast cereal commercial. Opening an actual box of the same cereal, they examine the small toy that is in the box and compare it with the animated version of the toy in the commercial. They discuss how the creators of the ad used graphics, animation, and sound for rhetorical purposes, and brainstorm criteria for buying brands of cereal for their family.
3-4: Students view a film documentary about the career of writer/director/puppeteer Jim Henson, the creator of "The Muppets" and many continuing puppet characters on the children's program Sesame Street. They discuss what they learned from the film about the facts about how Henson developed his fictional characters "Kermit the Frog" and "Miss Piggy" and about the backstage world of producing television for children.
5-8 Analyze the effect on the reader's or viewer's emotions of text and image in print journalism, and images, text, and sound in electronic journalism, distinguishing the techniques used in each to achieve these effects. Students compare how newspapers, radio, and television cover the same event, noting how words, sounds, and images are used in each medium. They note camera angles, montage and/or sound effects and music in radio and television, and the use of graphics in print journalism, and analyze the impressions each creates on the viewer, listener, or reader.
9-10 Analyze the techniques used in a media message for a particular audience and evaluate their effectiveness. Students listen to a recording of Orson Welles' radio broadcast, "War of the Worlds" and discuss how they might have reacted if they had heard the broadcast live. They research newspapers of the period to see how people responded, and construct arguments for and against Welles' choice of this format for his radio drama.
11-12 Identify the aesthetic effects of a media presentation and identify and evaluate the techniques used to create them. Henry V,

Media Strand

Learning Standard 28: Students will design and create coherent media productions with a clear controlling idea, adequate detail, and appropriate consideration of audience, purpose, and medium.

Grades Standard Examples
PreK-4 Create age-appropriate media productions (radio script, television play, audiotape, etc.) for display or transmission. PreK-2: Students make audio recordings of poems in which each child reads alternating verses.
3-4: Students make energy conservation posters using computerized drawing programs and/or photographs they have made and scanned into the computer.
5-8 Evaluate when to use different kinds of images (images, music, sound effects, graphics) to create an effective production. Students involved in creating "stories on tape" use special effects such as ominous music and loud screams to bring one of Edgar Allan Poe's stories alive for listeners.
9-10 Use media to expand their understanding of some significant writers or works from a particular historical period. A group of students working on a study of the gothic novel focuses on the genre's survival in classic silent films such as Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu. To answer the question, "What role does setting play in the novels of 19th century writers and the films of early 20th century directors?" they create an audio-visual presentation showing how both writers and film directors used verbal and visual exaggeration for expressionistic purpose. They also direct and act in an original film, set in the school, that uses silent film techniques to convey a sense of mystery. (Connects with arts)
11-12 Use media to demonstrate understanding of the social or political philosophy of several major writers of a particular historical period or literary movement, or on a particular public issue. (Connects with science and technology, history/social science)

*This Learning Standard is best assessed at the local level.

Last Updated: February 1, 1997
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