“Is This What I’m Supposed to Be?”: Chicago Teens Challenge Pop Culture Representations and Make Their Own
7.12.11 | This webisode of StudentSpeak visits Free Spirit Media, a nonprofit organization that focuses on media literacy and digital communication skills with a curriculum in Chicago high schools that continues after school in informal learning spaces.
Students learn how media shapes messages and how young people—especially young people of color—are depicted in mainstream media. The introductory media literacy curriculum is supplemented with hands-on training in production, to encourage students to be active media producers, not just consumers. As final projects, the students create a public service announcement. A more intense senior project, often a documentary, pulls together all they’ve learned, including creative direction.
“Teens could very easily create media that mimics what’s out there in mainstream media,” Samantha Spencer, lead teacher at Free Spirit Media, told Spotlight. “By basing it in media literacy, students are creating their own work that’s empowering to their community. But it’s also a more direct and honest representation of who they are.”
This episode features Rhondel Payton and Charles Rickett, students at North Lawndale College Preparatory Charter High School, discussing what they’ve learned about how media depicts teens, and what they want to do about it.
Free Spirit offers several other programs as well, including Hoops High, which focuses on sports broadcasting, and a journalism program with a weekly newscast.
StudentSpeak, a video series produced by Spotlight, goes behind the scenes to show how teens use digital media in their daily lives. View previous webisodes here.
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