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Posts tagged ‘communication’


Innovative High Schools Across PA Selected to Participate in 2012 Media Literacy Program

Mr. Wetherhold, media teacher at Salisbury High School, and the new media program are recent recipients of a competitive grant from the PA organization, Drug Free Pennsylvania. Salisbury is excited for the opportunity for our students to participate in this media literacy program! Drug Free Pennsylvania recently released the press release below, sharing more about this exciting opportunity. Congratulations to Mr. Wetherhold for a successful grant application and involving Salisbury High School in this important educational opportunity.

Harrisburg, PA (March 5, 2012) – Drug Free Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth’s statewide non-profit organization dedicated to reducing substance abuse in schools, homes and businesses announced today the winners of the the first annual Media Literacy High School grant program.

The Media Literacy High School program provides funding, technical assistance and collaboration opportunities for high schools to implement a student-centered, peer-to-peer media literacy initiative focused on examining and understanding the impact of media messages on drug and alcohol use among teenagers. High schools from across Pennsylvania competed for three slots in the inaugural program. The selection committee chose the following schools for particpiation in the 2012 Media Literacy High School program:

Salisbury High School

Salisbury High School serves approximately 500 students and is part of the Salisbury Township School District located in the Allentown area of the Lehigh Valley. The school offers an intimate setting in which students can often experience small classes and work on unique projects. These include the student media lab and broadcasting center which is used to produce daily and weekly programming and to explore the psychology and social impact of media through programs such as full-year elective courses in media messages, media management and media studies.

Souderton Area High School

Souderton Area High School serves more than 2,000 students in a rural and suburban community north of Philadelphia in Montgomery and Bucks counties. Media development and engagement has been a critical part of the high school program of studies for many years, and video production electives are some of the most popular courses offered at SAHS, culminating in an annual school film festival. The high school also allows students to explore current issues and career interests through an innovative 5th Block that provides dedicated schedule time each week.

Tacony Academy Charter School

Located in the Rhawnhurst neighborhood of northeast Philadelphia, Tacony Academy Charter School was established in 2009 as a city-wide charter school and currently serves 738 students from across the City of Phildelphia. Cornerstones of the school’s educational program include a commitment to STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) college preparatory learning and development of leadership skills. The school teaches a comprehensive elective course for students in media literacy and integrates media issues into academic, intellectual and research-based learning opportunities.

These three schools will implement a student media literacy high school initiative during spring 2012 and participate in online and peer-to-peer education and dialogue, guided by principles and ‘best practices’ established by the work of Renee Hobbs, PhD, founder of the Media Education Lab, and Brian Primack, M.D. of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The Media Literacy High School program continues and expands upon the accomplishments of Drug Free Pennsylvania’s successful “The Media Straight Up!” program for middle schools and the highly recognized Media Literacy PSA Contest program, sponsored annually by Drug Free Pennsylvania in partnership with the Pennsylvania National Guard’s Counterdrug Joint Task Force.

Funding for the Media Literacy High School program was made possible by the suppport of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

For more information, go to


Middle School – 6th Grade Literature Circles

Literature circles allow students to participate in self-directed discussions about literature. In groups of 4-6, students choose a book for their group to read. The students meet daily, setting goals for completion and choosing jobs for discussion.

With Falcon Apps (Google Apps for Education) and laptop computers, every student collaborates outside of class before meeting with their group. Students monitor their group members’ progress, chat to solve problems before the discussion, and guide each other to better contributions in class. The teacher can monitor student work in progress, providing quick and easy feedback to facilitate better preparation for discussions.

The 1:1 access to laptop computers and Falcon Apps  has facilitated:

  • increased student collaboration.
  • more focused and productive group discussions.
  • student goal-setting, teamwork, and accountability.
  • faster feedback from peers and teachers.
  • extended learning beyond the confines of the classroom walls.
  • students seeking knowledge from more sources than just the teacher.

This is a sample of what a student prepared for the discussion. Students fill out a checklist after completing their job.

Here is the document after receiving feedback from the teacher.

During class students view the shared document. They can view a copy of their partner’s work just by pulling it up on their laptop computer, revising and adding or removing information based on the flow of the discussion. The entire discussion process is facilitated through the shared document, and the students’ responses are improved by the ability to quickly edit their work, provide and receive feedback.

Students use the internet to supplement the text by looking up words and concepts, looking for other interpretations of the text by other readers outside the class, reading comments, finding images and video to help visualize and contextualize, and locating examples of literary terms applied to their text (such as metaphors and themes) used by other internet users.

After the completion of the literature circle discussion, students demonstrate comprehension through a project of their choice. Using a shared Falcon Apps document, students sign up for a project choice and regularly update the document with their progress. The freedom to choose a final product has boosted student engagement. Watch this sample literature circle project by Matt D.



Not only is this a terrific video about learning in real life, it’s an excellent example of how we communicate about ideas with media in the 21st century.

LEARN from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.


Above and Beyond

Here is a short animation  from P21 and Fablevision with a couple of significant messages.

  • We need to value all kinds of thinking – from “in the box” to “out of the box.”
  • Also, our best work as a society comes from the synergy created through collaboration!

You can download a free 4C’s poster – creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication!