Part II of the #IBDP Language and Literature course has long held a special spot in my heart.

Just yesterday I was delighted to come across this amazing new feature via the NY Times, a monthly feature challenging our graph/media-literacy. Now, more than ever before, an awareness of the media’s power and an ability to analyze how that power is made is crucial. Mass media is bigger, faster and more omnipotent by the year.  Adults and students alike struggle to cut through the noise, to decipher sustenance from swish, and to know what is trustworthy:

When presented randomly selected photos — some real, some altered — only 60 percent of participants could pick out the manipulated photos. Of those, only 45 could pinpoint what had been altered.

Test your own abilities to navigate the news via this WaPo quiz.

Illusion flickr photo by tinou bao shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Beginning to unpack part II? Here are a few activities to get you started:

Show an awareness of the potential for educational, political or ideological influence of the media:

 Take a look at the way the NY Times covered the Holocaust below.  Have students create their own short film imagining what the next generation will say about the way they’ve reported on a major issue today.


Examine different forms of communication within the media:

“Facebook is where everyone is actually sharing and discussing that information…”


Host a follow up debate with students to look at the rise of ‘citizen journalists’ and to question whether or not it is doing more good or harm.  Check out this resource and then this one to get started on research for opening statements.

Show the way mass media use language to inform, persuade, or entertain:

“We need to get serious, very serious about making important news important.”


Can your students create a campaign which gets attention? How do they learn to ‘charm us into goodness?’


Thanks Flickr for providing the featured image