CoverIntroduction and Table of Media Literacy Activities for Key Civics ConceptsDefining Critical Media Literacy1. Foundations of the United States Political SystemDemocracy in Social Media Policies and Community StandardsThe Internet as a Public Utility21st Century Women STEM InnovatorsMedia Coverage of the RoyalsRepresentations of Native Americans in Film, Local History Publications, and School Mascots2. The Development of United States GovernmentDeclarations of Independence on Social MediaMarketing and Regulating Self-Driving CarsRepresentations of and Racism Toward Black Americans in the MediaPolitical Debates Through Songs from Hamilton: An American MusicalBill of Rights on Twitter3. Institutions of United States GovernmentHollywood Movies About the Branches of GovernmentWriting an Impeachment Press ReleaseMembers of Congress' Use of Social MediaPolitical Impacts of Public Opinion PollsWebsite Design for New Political Parties4. The Rights and Responsibilities of CitizensImmigration in the NewsPortrayals of Immigrants in Television and FilmCOVID-19 Information EvaluationWomen Political Leaders in the MediaOnline Messaging by Advocacy Organizations and Special Interest GroupsDigital Games for Civic EngagementSocial Media and the ElectionsMedia Spin in the Coverage of Political DebatesCelebrities' Influence on PoliticsPolitical Activism Through Social MediaMedia Recruitment of Public Sector WorkersImages of Teachers and TeachingRepresenting Trans IdentitiesMedia Framing of the Events of January 6, 2021Music as Protest ArtPACs, Super PACs, and Unions in the Media5. The Constitution, Amendments and Supreme Court DecisionsProhibition in the MediaThe Equal Rights Amendment on Twitter and Other Social MediaCivil War News Stories and Recruitment AdvertisementsRepresentations of Gender and Race on CurrencyThe Equality Act on TwitterReading Supreme Court Dissents AloudTelevision Cameras in Courtrooms6. The Structure of State and Local GovernmentNative American Mascots and LogosA Constitution for the InternetMilitary Recruitment and the MediaYour Privacy on Social MediaPandemic Policy Information in the MediaGendered Language in Media Coverage of Women in PoliticsEnvironmental Campaigns Using Social MediaTrusted Messengers, the Media, and the PandemicOnline Campaigning for Political OfficeAdvertising the Lottery Online and In PrintLocal Governments, Social Media and Digital Democracy7. Freedom of the Press and News/Media LiteracyPress Freedom in the United States and the WorldObjectivity and the News from All SidesInvestigative Journalism and Social ChangeNews Photographs & Newspaper DesignHow Reporters' Report EventsRecommendation Algorithms on Social Media PlatformsFake News Investigation and EvaluationCritical Visual Analysis of Online and Print MediaMemes and TikToks as Political Cartoons

Critical Visual Analysis of Online and Print Media

Seeing is believing, except when what you see is not actually true. Many people tend to accept without question the images they see in advertising, websites, films, television, and other media. Such an uncritical stance toward visual content can leave one open to distortion, misinformation, and uninformed decision-making based on fake and false information.

Take a moment to watch the Dove evolution YouTube video below to see how the media can present a distorted representation of reality. 

Image preview of a YouTube video
Watch on YouTube https://edtechbooks.org/-zRW

Learning how to conduct a critical visual analysis is critical for living in a media-filled society. By engaging in critical visual anaylsis of the media, you can make more informed decisions regarding your civic, political, and private life

Image preview of a YouTube video
Watch on YouTube https://edtechbooks.org/-NDpV

As a first step in evaluating visual sources, the history education organization, Facing History and Ourselves, suggests the critical viewing approach of See, Think, Wonder. The goal is to evaluate images by asking questions about them before drawing conclusions as to meaning and accuracy.

The following critical visual analysis activities expand the See, Think, Wonder approach by offering opportunities to evaluate different types of visuals for their trustworthiness as information sources.

Activity 1: Critical Visual Analysis of an Online Article

The visual content of an online article or website can tell us a lot about its trustworthiness. This activity asks you to perform a critical visual analysis of two news articles to evaluate the credibility of each source. 

Activity 2: Critical Visual Analysis of a Primary Source

To analyze visual or written sources, the Library of Congress recommends students and teachers follow a three stage process: 1) Observe (describe what you see in the image), 2) Reflect (discuss what you think it means) and 3) Question (record what you want to now know more about). 

Activity 3: Critical Visual Analysis of an Advertisement

Activity 4: Critical Visual Analysis of a Doctored Historical Image

Additional Resources: 

Connecting to the Standards

  • Massachusetts Civics & Government Standards
    • Explain methods for evaluating information and opinion in print and online media. (Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for History and Social Studies) [8.T7.5]
  • ISTE Standards
    • Knowledge Constructor
      • 3b: Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data, or other resources.
      • 3d: Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.
    • Creative Communicator
      • 6a: Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication. 
      • 6b: Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
      • 6d: Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for the intended audiences.
  • DLCS Standards
    • Interpersonal and Societal Impact (CAS.c)
    • Digital Tools (DTC.a)
    • Collaboration and Communication (DTC.b)
    • Research (DTC.c)
  • English Language Arts > History/Social Studies Common Core Standards
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.1
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.6
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.8
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.1
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.1
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.7
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.8