Our Instructional Approach
We encourage educators and students to not only analyze the media messages they encounter, but to also reflect on why they interpret media the way they do and why others may decipher or convey information differently. Through this inquiry-driven, evidence-based approach, learners develop compassion and confidence to effectively collaborate and communicate across differences.
Constructivist Media Decoding
This method of teaching is the cornerstone of our approach to media literacy pedagogy.
It enables busy educators to integrate media literacy into their curricula in any core content and grade level.
is the process of analyzing and evaluating the messages conveyed by diverse forms of media—a necessary skill in today’s digitally mediated world.
A Constructivist Approach
is inquiry-based - teaching through reflective dialogue. It enables learners to “construct” new knowledge for themselves by reconciling new information with their previous experiences and ideas.
Constructivist Media Decoding
engages diverse learners, deepens their understanding of subject material, and hones higher order thinking skills in analysis and reflection. It is highly relevant for students’ mediated reality, and is highly successful with traditionally disenfranchised students.
Educator Developed, Standards-Aligned
The new C3 standards require a shift to inquiry-based methodologies that teach students to ask questions, evaluate sources, provide evidence, and communicate well-reasoned conclusions. The National Council for the Social Studies recent Position Paper on Media Literacy, co-authored by Project Look Sharp, illustrates how our materials and training address the shifts in pedagogy and instruction proposed by C3.
The new Next Generation standards emphasize the integration of critical thinking and literacy skills with core content instruction. Our approach, as outlined in the Science Scope article, Teaching Critical Thinking Through Media Literacy, requires students to apply scientific knowledge to the critical analysis of diverse and often conflicting representations of scientific information and to reflect on how their own biases impact their interpretation of information and assessment of the credibility of sources.
These standards require the integration of literacy skills into content area instruction. This has been our focus for over 20 years!
These standards require teaching students to analyze and evaluate ALL media messages - in print, web sites, popular culture, entertainment, music and more. Use the Key Questions to Ask When Analyzing Media messages to integrate the habits of critical thinking across the curriculum.
Explore our library of over 500 free media decoding lessons.
Media Literacy Handouts
Categories and Sample Questions for Media Decoding
This 5-minute video shows Chris Sperry leading high school students through an inquiry-based decoding of Israeli and Palestinian maps to discover concepts about bias in maps and apply their knowledge of the Arab/Israel conflict. It is annotated to demonstrate the choices that a teacher makes in leading a media decoding to teach core subject area knowledge and concepts and media literacy skills.
Heighten Your Instruction through PD
While media decoding typically happens with classes of 20+ students, for practical reasons (audio and parental permission), these demonstration videos are with smaller groups, but the CMD process is the same.
View Additional Videos Featuring Other Educators, Grade Levels and Topics:
Published Articles and Webinars
Explore Full Article Archive
View past webinars we’ve hosted
Integrated Media Literacy and Critical Thinking
How can you fit media literacy into the curriculum when it is already so packed? How can you use media analysis to teach core content and standards while also teaching critical media literacy skills?
Teaching Media Literacy & Sustainability for Younger Learners
Sox Sperry, Project Look Sharp's primary curriculum writer, leads participants in an exploration of elements from Project Look Sharp's lessons related to sustainability for teachers in the elementary grades.
Media Constructions of Martin Luther King Jr.
Sox Sperry, Project Look Sharp's curriculum writer, leads participants on a participatory exploration of lessons covering media representations of Dr. King.
Critical Thinking and Health: Media Literacy Lessons for Elementary Grades
Cyndy Scheibe, LookSharp's executive director, offered elementary school and early childhood educators pedagogical techniques and curriculum materials to help young children understand biases and misleading messages found in food advertising and toy commercials aimed at them.
Teaching about Climate Change Using the Tools of Media Literacy
Sox Sperry, Project Look Sharp’s primary curriculum writer, leads participants on a participatory exploration of lessons covering media representations of climate change. The lessons were drawn from the Media Constructions of Global Warming kit.
Media Constructions of Presidential Campaigns
Sox Sperry, LookSharp's primary curriculum writer, leads participants on a participatory exploration of high school lessons covering media representations of U.S. presidential elections from 1800-2008.
Media Constructions of Energy Choices: Empowering Students to See Through the Smoke
Sox Sperry, LookSharp's primary curriculum writer, offers educators and teachers-in-training pedagogical techniques and curriculum materials to support a deeper understanding of how to address issues of bias in media documents about energy choices.
Media Constructions of Food Justice: Shining a Light on Equity, Economy and Sustainability
Sox Sperry, LookSharp's primary curriculum writer, leads participants on a participatory exploration of lesson elements from three of our curriculum kits that are directly related to food justice topics: Media Constructions of Chemicals in the Environment; Media Constructions of Sustainability Food, Water and Agriculture; and Media Constructions of Sustainability: Finger Lakes
Media Constructions of Peace and Social Justice: Reflecting Diversity
This interactive webinar includes a brief demonstration video of Chris Sperry, Project Look Sharp's Director of Curriculum and Staff Development, as he leads a class through constructivist media decoding of a lesson on peace and conflict studies.
Teaching about the Middle East through Media Literacy
Chris Sperry, Project Look Sharp's Director of Curriculum and Staff Development, presents about the Middle East through Media Literacy. Chris Sperry has had many years of experience with teaching high school students about the Middle East. In fact, during this webinar, Chris will have just returned from presenting at the first International Conference on Media Literacy in Iran with Cyndy Scheibe, the Executive Director and Founder of Project Look Sharp.