August 2019

Like many of you, my semester started this week. After taking a semester off for conference planning, it was great to be back in the classroom. This fall, I am teaching a Media Literacy elective for journalism majors at Brooklyn College. I love the first day of classes. I like watching the students try to figure out what type of teacher I will be, and I love trying to get a sense of what type of community we will build together over the course of the next few months.

I always ask my students the same question to facilitate introductons. "What is one example of media content they have watched, read, or listened to recently that has inspired them?" I find that this question allows them to talk about something they like without urging them to be too personal. It also sets the tone for open conversation. Without fail, there is debate. This week's came when one student talked about his passion for Breaking Bad and his claim that it was indeed the greatest show ever made. Well, The Wire fans in the room had some things to say about that! This question sets the tone for a class where media can be both criticized and celebrated, where I am going to listen to them and ask for their thoughts, and where disagreements are explored and analyzed.
I always launch introductions with sharing my own answer. I chose to talk about Barry, HBO's dark comedy starring Bill Hader and Henry Winkler. I discovered this show on a cross country flight to LA this summer. I binged the second season on the plane and then later went back to watch Season 1. I love the uniqueness of the storyline, the incredible writing and performances, and the way the story weaves itself in directions you can never see coming. I also really appreciate being surprised by people and Bill Hader is beyond suprising. When watching him on Saturday Night Live, I would never have imagined him winning an Emmy for his almost entirely dramatic work on HBO. Love it. (For the record, I later mentioned in class that the new Taylor Swift album is one I can’t stop listening to. I dare you to listen to Paper Rings without dancing or Soon You’ll Be Better without crying. I dare you. I’ll give you free membership to NAMLE if you can prove it.”)*

While there were some familiar examples my students shared ( Euphoria, Jane the Virgin, When They See Us, The Office, Handmaid's Tale, etc. ), they surprised me with the amount of content they brought up that I had never heard of beforehand - especially podcast content they spoke about. I'm a big podcast listener and it was such a joy to hear these college seniors talk about all they are listening to. Some of their choices: The Joe Budden Podcast , Random Order , The Stakes , Critical Role , Spill the Tea.

I am looking forward to spending the semester with these students. I'd love to hear how YOU start your semester or school year with your students. How do you get them engaged and comfortable?
This month also brought Media Literacy Week to the top of our to-do list here at NAMLE. I hope you checked out our newly revamped website , the MLW toolkit and the graphics and logos available for use. Have you started planning your media literacy week activities? Please email us at and let us know what you have in the works! We are in the process of planning a few exciting events around the country and will share information with all our members in September as details pan out.

Remember Media Literacy Week is a chance for all of us to spotlight media literacy in our classrooms, institutions, and communities. While NAMLE hosts the efforts, the week long initiative is only as successful as you and our community make it . Whether you are planning a week of events, a special lesson in your classroom, or simply hope to support social media outreach, please get involved. Reach out if you have questions or ideas you want to share.

I'm off to listen to some Taylor Swift. Enjoy the long weekend!
Michelle Ciulla Lipkin's signature
Michelle Ciulla Lipkin 
Executive Director

*NAMLE membership is always free. I’m just teasing. Not to mention, since you get this email you are already are a member. You really should pay attention to the things you sign up for;)
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