Introduction and Table of Media Literacy ActivitiesDefining 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 on Film and in Local History Publications2. The Development of United States GovernmentPromoting a Declaration 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 MusicalTweeting the Bill of Rights3. Institutions of United States GovernmentHollywood Movies About the Branches of GovernmentWriting an Impeachment Press ReleaseHow Members of Congress Use Social MediaPolitical Impacts of Public Opinion PollsDesigning a Website for a New Political Party4. The Rights and Responsibilities of CitizensImmigration in the NewsPortrayals of Immigrants in Television and FilmEvaluating Information About COVID-19Women Political Leaders in the MediaMedia Use 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 MediaRecruiting Workers for Public Sector JobsImages of Teachers and TeachingTransgender Representation in the MediaMedia Framing of the Events of January 6, 2021Music as Protest ArtPACs, Super PACs, and Unions in the Media5. The Constitution, Amendments and Supreme Court DecisionsMedia For and Against ProhibitionThe Equal Rights Amendment on Social MediaNews Stories and Advertisements from the Civil WarRepresentations of Gender and Race on CurrencyTweeting For and Against the Equality ActReading Supreme Court Dissents AloudDebating Cameras in the Courtroom6. The Structure of State and Local GovernmentNative American Mascots and LogosWriting a Constitution for the InternetMilitary Recruitment and the MediaYour Privacy on Social MediaState Government Use of Media During the COVID-19 PandemicGendered Language in Media Coverage of Women in PoliticsEnvironmental Campaigns Using Social MediaTrusted Messengers, the Media, and the PandemicCampaigning for Political Office on Social MediaAdvertising the Lottery Online and In PrintLocal Government and Social Media7. Freedom of the Press and News/Media LiteracyPress Freedom in the United States and the WorldThe News from All SidesInvestigative Journalism and Social ChangeNews Photographs & Newspaper DesignUncovering Reporters' PerspectivesRecommendation Algorithms on Social Media PlatformsDetecting Fake NewsConducting Critical Visual AnalysisMemes and TikToks as Political Cartoons

Introduction and Table of Media Literacy Activities

Senior Contributing Authors

Robert W. MaloySenior Lecturer, University of Massachusetts Amherst 

Torrey Trust, Associate Professor of Learning Technology, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Chenyang Xu, Graduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst 

Allison Butler, Senior Lecturer & Director of Undergraduate Advising, Director of Media Literacy Certificate Program, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Media Literacy Project Team

Ifat Gazia, Graduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst 

J.D. SwerzenskiGraduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst 

Yuxi (Cecilia) Zhou, Graduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst 

Natalie Passov, Undergraduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Eleanor Sprick, Undergraduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Benjamin Mendillo, Undergraduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Kyle Balis, Undergraduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Kendra Sleeper, Undergraduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the University of Massachusetts Amherst
Interdisciplinary Faculty Research Award for this project.

2021 Winner Learning Technologies Team - eLearning Consortium of Colorado
Bob Maloy, Torrey Trust, Allison Butler, and Chenyang Xu were honored for their collaborative work on this eBook project with the 2021 Learning Technologies Team Award.

Introduction

Welcome to Critical Media Literacy and Civic Learning - an interactive, multimodal, multicultural, open access eBook for teaching and learning key topics in United States Government and Civic Life. Open access means these materials are online, digital, and free of charge (Billings, 2019). This book is available online to anyone with an internet connection. The eBook can also be viewed and printed as a PDF file for offline viewing.

Developed as a companion edition to our Building Democracy for All eBook (2020), Critical Media Literacy and Civic Learning (2021) features more than 50 interactive media literacy learning activities for students organized around key topics in civics, government, and history education derived from the Massachusetts 8th Grade Civics and Government curriculum framework (see tables below). Civics concepts for which we have developed critical media literacy activities include democracy as a political system, a republic as a form of government, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the branches of U.S. government, elections and voting, political parties, citizenship, political leadership and courage, political protest, civil rights and social justice, political action committees, amendments to the Constitution, landmark Supreme Court decisions, functions of state and local government, freedom of the press, digital news and social media, and many more.

Each critical media literacy learning activity includes short written introductions followed by step-by-step directions for students to complete the activities, individually or in small groups. Every activity is designed to promote creative self-expression and higher-order critical thinking among students about the ways that online and print media impact our lives as well as our nation's politics.

Media Literacy Activities for Key Civics, Government, and History Concepts

1. Foundations of the U.S. Political System

Key Civics, Government, and History Concepts

Critical Media Literacy Activities

Democracy as a Political System

Democracy in Social Media Policies and Community Standards

A Republic as a Form of Government

Making the Internet as a Public Utility

Impacts of Enlightenment Philosophies

21st Century Women STEM Innovators

British Influences on American Government

Media Coverage of the Royals

Native American Influences on American Government

Representations of Native Americans in Films and Local History

 

2. The Development of United States Government

Key Civics, Government, and History Concepts

Critical Media Literacy Activities

Declaration of Independence

Promoting a Declaration of Independence on Social Media

Articles of Confederation

Marketing and Regulating Self-Driving Cars

The Constitutional Convention

Representations of and Racism Toward toward Black Americans in the Media

Federalists and Anti-Federalists

Political Debates through Songs

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights

Tweeting the Bill of Rights

3. Institutions of United States Government

Key Civics, Government, and History Concepts

Critical Media Literacy Activities

Branches of the Government and the Separation of Powers

Hollywood Movies about the Branches of the Government

Checks and Balances between the Branches

Writing an Impeachment Press Release

The President, the Congress, and the Courts

How Members of Congress Use Social Media

Elections

Understanding Public Opinion Polls

Political Parties

Designing a Social Media Campaign for a Political Party

4. The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens

Key Civics, Government, and History Concepts

Critical Media Literacy Activities

Citizenship and Becoming a U.S. Citizen

Immigration in the Media

Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens and Non-Citizens

Portrayals of Immigration in TV and Films

Civic, Political, and Private Life

Evaluating Information about COVID-19

Women Political Leaders in the Media

Fundamental Principles and Values of American Democracy

Evaluating Online Messaging by Advocacy Organizations

Voting and Citizen Participation

Designing Digital Games for Civic Engagment

Accurate Information for Voters

Social Media in the Elections

Media Spin in the Coverage of Political Debates

Political Leadership

Celebrities' Influence on Politics

Connections between People and Their Elected Representatives

Engaging in Social Media Activism

Careers in Public Service

Recruiting Workers for Public Sector Jobs

Images of Teachers and Teaching

Individual Liberty and Social Equality

Representing Trans Identities

Political Courage and Anti-Democratic Actions

Framing the Events of January 6, 2021

Political Protest

Music as Protest Art

Interest Groups, Political Action Committees, and Labor Unions

PACs, SuperPACs, and Unions in the Media

5. The Constitution, Amendments, and Supreme Court Decisions

Key Civics, Government, and History Concepts

Critical Media Literacy Activities

The Necessary and Proper Clause



Amendments to the Constitution

Media For and Against Prohibition

The Equal Rights Amendment in the Media

The Civil War, Federal Power, and Individual Rights

News Stories and Advertisements from the Civil War

Representations of Gender and Race on Currency

Equal Rights and Protections for Race, Gender, and Disability

Tweeting For and Against the Equality Act

Marbury v. Madison

Reading Supreme Court Dissents Aloud

Landmark Supreme Court Decisions

Debating Cameras in the Courtroom

6. The Structure of State and Local Government

Key Civics, Government, and History Concepts

Critical Media Literacy Activities

Functions of State and National Government

Native American Mascots and Logos

Distribution of Powers

Writing a Constitution for the Internet

Enumerated and Implied Powers

Using the Media for Military Recruitment

Protection of Individual Rights

Your Privacy on Social Media

The 10th Amendment

Informing the Public about Pandemic Policies

The Massachusetts State Constitution

Gendered Language in Media Coverage of Women in Politics

Responsibilities of Federal, State, and Local Government

Environmental Campaigns Using Social Media

Assessing Trusted Messengers during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Leadership of Massachusetts State Government

Campaigning for Political Office Online

Tax Supported Facilities and Services

Advertising the Lottery

The Functions of Local Government

Local Government and Social Media

7. Freedom of the Press and News/Media Literacy

Key Civics, Government, and History Concepts

Critical Media Literacy Activities

Freedom of the Press

Press Freedom in the United States

Competing Information

Examining Objectivity in the News

Being an Investigative Journalist

Formats for News Writing

Analyzing News Photographs and Newspaper Design

Analyzing How Reporters Report Events

Digital News and Social Media

Understanding Recommendation Algorithms

Detecting Fake News

Evaluating Print and Online Media

Doing Critical Visual Analysis

Editorials, Editorial Cartoons, and Op-Ed Commentaries

Memes and TicToks as Political Cartoons