#DBC50Summer 7/50: Master the Media

I went into this book through the lens of a teacher, and came out on the other end thinking like a parent.  There are many ways that book seven is different from any other Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc book I’ve ever read.  Master the Media by Julie Smith is a powerful message to teachers and parents alike that our children are inundated with various media and they don’t know what to do with it.  Until we show them how to handle the masses of media thrown their way, they will accept it all as truth.


This is not your typical educational book.  In truth, it’s even atypical in the line of DBC books.  Other books I have read have the purpose of inspiring, empowering, or even giving lesson ideas.  This book does those things as well to varying degrees, but two things really stood out to me that make Master the Media stand out.

  1. This is informative!!!  There are so many facts and figures within this book!  The statistics will change as time moves on, but in true DBC forethought, the QR codes are dynamic and can be changed for updated links.  I would love to create one large infographic with the content from this book!  Julie did an amazing job collecting the statistics and compiling them in an easy to understand manner.  One thing I LOVE about this book is that it’s informative without reading like a textbook!  Julie puts her own voice, her own personality (which I adore), in the story; that makes the story come alive and not feel bland and impersonal like a textbook.  Her wit is fabulous; I can imagine that in real life, she is quick to throw out clever puns and dry humor.  She and I would quickly become best friends!
  2. The book creates an authentic call for action and a sense of urgency.  Julie speaks to the fact that we must educate our children about media literacy, both at home and at school, throughout the book.  She shares many examples of ways that media exists to deliver buyers to advertisers.  The media are not the enemy and are not to be feared, but we MUST be aware and critical of everything we see around us all the time.  Otherwise, we will be led as sheep.  Julie encourages critical thinking and making informed decisions, not taking the devices away.  Which leads me to a good old fashioned soap box…

I’m learning that I am a minimalist.  If we don’t need it, get rid of it. (My husband and daughters joke that if something goes missing in the house it’s because Mommy threw it away… what’s funny is that they are usually right!)  I mentioned in an earlier blog that I am a completionist (which means I must have all the things in a set).  This must not be confused with a hoarder.  A hoarder I am not, let me just tell you.  If it doesn’t serve a purpose, it usually finds its way to the Goodwill or the trash.  This transfers to the classroom, too.  Upon starting the pilot position of Lead Digital Learning & Media Innovation Facilitator at my school, I found several older Flip cameras, digital cameras, and camcorders while cleaning out.  I held on to a few to appease the masses, but the majority of them went to the technology warehouse in our district last year.  This year, I happily finished the purge of these digital items.  I was questioned, “Why would you want to get rid of this stuff?  I can take it to my classroom if you don’t want it.”  Oooooh, no you don’t!  Welcome to the year 2018… do you see that device you are carrying in your back pocket?  It does more than these three overpriced pieces of technology combined.  These tools are now obsolete because the smart phone has replaced them

Do NOT take the device away at school!  I get so aggravated when I see calculator caddies with cell phones in them during class time.  Or a Rubbermaid tub on the front desk collecting cell phones as students walk in.  I want to scream, “Are you serious right now?”  How about at the next faculty meeting, we collect your phone as you walk in the door?  No?!  So why do we take it away from students?

Technology isn’t going away.  The media aren’t going away.  If anything, it’s growing exponentially and our dependence on digital tools continues to skyrocket.  How about we teach students how to use it responsibly in a controlled environment rather than removing it from their hands?

How about we show them how technology can propel their learning forward, and how it can save them so much time, simplifying their lives by making it more efficient?  Let’s show them that a phone can be MORE THAN social media and texting, MORE THAN entertainment.  Let’s show them how to create something meaningful and share it with the world!  Let’s show them how to take pictures of important information (even create #BookSnaps) rather than spending 15 minutes writing it in notebooks; this allows you get to the good stuff already, which is what the kids want!  Trust me, they are not engaged in learning while writing your notes… they are compliant, and some of them aren’t even that.  Can you imagine throwing the science notes on the board saying, “Hey kids – take a quick picture and email to someone who didn’t bring their phone today… Okay, done?  Great – let’s get to our experiment!”  Boom! You just saved yourself time and kept your kids from being bored and disengaged from the very beginning.

…Annnnnd stepping down from soap box (hopefully to applause and cheers)!

The middle school where I work is 1:1 with Chromebooks, as well as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).  Almost every student in the school elects to borrow a Chromebook for the year from the district paying a small usage fee.  A handful of students choose to bring their own Chromebook to school.  A vast majority of our 7th and 8th grade students have a cell phone at school, and about 2/5 to 1/2 of our 6th grade students carry a cell phone.  There are times in class when a cell phone is more appropriate to use than a Chromebook.  Students can take pictures, video, and scan QR codes or augmented reality much faster and enjoy better quality with a cell phone than with their Chromebook.  It is my job, and the job of any other person in the building that is breathing, to encourage students to engage in media literacy. I spent a media class last year teaching students how to use their cell phone for “instructional use”.  We spent another media class last year discussing digital footprint and every time we use Minecraft to complete a standard in a subject area, we discuss digital citizenship in that space.  Students are shocked when they come to their monthly media class and the TV says to have their library books, Chromebook, cell phone, and a pencil with them.  Without fail a student in every class asks, “Wait!  Are you serious?  We need our cell phone?”

I agree with Julie that we must discuss all forms of media, which includes print resources such as magazines and books.  We must model to students being critical of everything they see, from advertisements to television to music and film to the news.  In her book, Julie references many questions to ask of our children.  What I love the most is that she has questions to ask at home and questions to ask at school!  So whether you are a parent or an educator, this book will help you take the first steps to understanding and promoting media literacy with your children.  I referenced at the beginning of the blog post that I started reading this book through the lens of a teacher.  I was thinking critically of the lessons I have taught, and the lessons that my students asked for on a survey at the end of the year about what they want to learn.  By the end of the book, I was thinking more like the mother of two girls, ages nine and five.  I was thinking that if we don’t team up with Julie and encourage our children to question what is being thrust at them within media, we are ultimately doing them a disservice.

So how will I implement something from this book?  Well, I’m going to be honest – I’m cheating a bit here.  I plan to have that infographic I mentioned before created, but it will be the students creating it, not me.  I can devote 10 minutes of each media class to facilitating a student discussion about each chapter (Television, Music/Radio, Film, News, Books/Magazines, Advertisements, Internet, Political Media).   Students can create a section of an ongoing infographic with facts from the book each month, reviewing what has already been done.  Then for the remainder of that month, they will be tasked with paying closer attention to the medium of the month and sharing on Flipgrid (an asynchronous video recording website) something they observed within that space during the month.

Julie wrote this book based on her classes where she instructs college students.  Her book is intended for both parents and educators specifically, but I believe that as living, breathing, interacting-with-society humans we should be reading Julie Smith’s Master the Media & begin to be critical of media around us.  Pick up your copy here.  Post your reflections, thoughts, resources, etc. here at our Flipgrid!  (Passcode is DBCSummer) Thank you Andrea Paulakovich for introducing the idea of using Flipgrid to create one world-wide book study!

Podcast: The Principal Center with Julie Smith

What Does Dave Burgess Have To Say?

Julie Smith website

National Association for Media Literacy Education Twitter



Are you ready for book eight?  I can’t believe we’re already on number eight and we just kicked this #DBC50Summer thing off a couple weeks ago!  Book eight focuses on YOU!  Are you taking care of yourself?  Are you working too hard?  We can’t be on our A-Game for our students unless we engage in self-care!  Dan Tricarico shows us how to create focus, simplicity, and tranquility in the classroom in The Zen Teacher!  Grab your copy and prepare to get your Zen on!  So excited to read & blog about book eight!

2 thoughts on “#DBC50Summer 7/50: Master the Media

  1. Pingback: #DBC50Summer Book 1-10 Recap | AliciaRay.com

  2. Pingback: Must-Have Tech Tools for Remote Learning | Educational Hindsight

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