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By John Urkevich, Executive Director

In 2010, employers are stressing the importance of not only being technology savvy, but also media literate. One of the biggest challenges in media literacy is to locate and evaluate information and recognize and understand the source. The ability to clearly focus on content and ignore the distractions of the media is critical in our world today.

Cooperating School Districts of Greater St. Louis is proud to support educators in becoming both technology literate and media literate. In turn, students in St. Louis schools are using media literacy skills to create their own multimedia projects while gaining a better understanding of the media that surround their daily lives.

CSD recognizes the importance of media literacy and the role it plays in helping students develop skills including critical thinking, problem solving and story telling. In addition, we are a member of the Gateway Media Literacy Partners (GMLP). Media education, with critical thinking, creative communication, and technology literacy is a key part of a 21st century approach to learning.

CSD has made media literacy skills a focus of many classes in our Virtual Learning Center (VLC) and will continue to search for new ways to promote its importance. The VLC staff stays actively involved and has found the GMLP a great resource for our member schools.

Through the VLC, CSD provides teachers valuable training in areas that allow them to enhance their media literacy skills as well as those of their students. Teachers are now tapping into technology and digital learning on a daily basis.  Classes in digital storytelling, creating book trailers as well as our student movie-making contest Show-Me a Movie are just a few of the ways that we help St. Louis students and teachers develop media literacy skills. Teachers walk away from our classes with the ability to empower students with the tools, skills and confidence to take creative control of their research and presentation projects.

In the Show-Me a Movie digital storytelling contest, Missouri students demonstrate their creativity and digital movie making skills, while basing their movies on curriculum with a content focus.  The videos showcase what students know, care about, and are able to do. Many past winners promote ideas learned from CSD’s CHARACTERplus, supporting critical thinking and positive attitudes.

Winners of the Show-Me a Movie Contest are awarded prizes at our annual Midwest Education Technology Conference. All previous winners are archived on our website to allow for continued learning and sharing. In creating their own multimedia projects and movies, students come to understand how the media at large affects them and their daily lives. In fact, Digital Media is a strand at CSD’s Midwest Education Technology Conference. We are pleased to welcome Renee Hobbs of Temple University as a featured speaker at the 2011 METC. Renee founded the Media Education Lab at Temple University. Educators from across the country will hear Renee’s message of promoting media literacy at METC.

At CSD, we will continue to promote media literacy concepts to our education community and help our teachers understand them as they educate our students.  We look forward to helping further GMLP’s mission while supporting our 21st century students in the years ahead.