Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Lesson In Media Literacy & Storytelling From 11-Year Old Grayce & Her Pigs

There are nine little cousins in our family.  My sister, brother and I each have three children. Over the years it has been really fun watching them grow up together.

There are several of them that are very close in age. Our son Hagan, who is almost 12, is right in between his cousins Riley, who is 13, Grayce, who is 11 and Carson, who is 10. It has been interesting watching them change together too.

One of the things I find most fascinating is how they communicate and learn.  It is even different from when our oldest Brianna was Hagan's age only 12 years ago. They have the opportunity and ability as 21st century learners to engage with so many different types of media, bringing their stories to life.

According to the Media Literacy Project, Media Literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and create media.  Media literate youth are better able to understand the complex messages we receive from television, radio, Internet, newspapers, magazines, books, billboards, video games, music and all other forms of media.  

In fact, many educators have discovered that media literacy is an effective and engaging way to apply critical thinking skills to a wide variety of issues.  
Our young people are definitely telling their stories differently.

I have one to share from my niece Grayce over the last couple of weeks.
Last year was Grayce's first year showing pigs for 4-H in the country fair.  She loved it so much.  Her brother and sister did too.  They worked together with the pigs everyday.

She loved writing and talking about her pigs throughout the year as well as you can see in the tweet above.
This March, she started posting pictures of Cooper and her cleaning out the barn, getting ready for the pigs to come again.
She would post this story and their progress on Instagram and Snapchat.
Her Dad (my brother Ryan) would too. 
When the day was here to get her pigs, Grayce couldn't be more excited!  I loved watching the story unfold as the three pigs arrived.

She even shared a picture comparing last years pigs, Bacon, Sassy and Bob, to this years. Grayce is always very good at captivating her audience and drawing them into the conversation.

In this picture, she asked us to look for the difference between the two years of pigs.
A few days later she did it again....this time using a text message with lots of people.

We had been out for dinner. When we finished, I noticed I had over 170 text messages of my phone.  I was a little worried but was relived when I saw it was Grayce asking a very important question to all of us...

From this list of names help me find some good names for my pigs.  I have one boy and two girl pigs. 
She included an article called Our Favorite Southern Pig Names from Southern Living.

For several days I read messages like,

Name the boy Hammy.  

Miss Piggy.  What about Missy? 

Love Benton. Maybe Hazel.  

Her grandmother is in this also so don't say awkward things.  

And another someones living room.

I loved every minute of being part of it, because once again I was amazed and intrigued by the way Grayce and her friends (and a few family members) were using texting to have such a meaningful conversation.

It was so important to Grayce and exciting to watch it unfold over this group text and several amazing...
 Instagram posts,
 where she shares the lives...
of her three pigs.

Throughout this time, my parents were in Arizona, I was traveling for work and my sister was in her town.  Even though we were all miles from Grayce, we kept up with this important moment of her life.  

The way she told her story through different types of media helped us understand and embrace what she was feeling too.  Grayce has a new relationship with media and looks at it in a way like never before. 

The Media Literacy Project article states that media literacy skills can help youth with many things such as, 

Develop critical thinking skills. 
Understand how media messages shape our culture and society. 
Evaluates media messages based on our own experiences, skills, beliefs and values. 

And the one she is exceptionally good at, Creates and distributes our own media messages.  

Today when I was talking to Grayce about sharing this story on my blog, she told me about a writing project at school. She wrote about her pigs.  

I suggested she gather that information, the pictures and stories from Instagram and Snapchat, and any other information she wanted to share about her pigs to create a digital story using Buncee
She did just that!  I love how she pulled in the pictures she posted and other fun little pieces including....   
a sweet, very informative story about her pigs, Chops, Checkers and Wilbur.

You can read Grayce's Buncee, My 4-H Pigs here

She can now add to this Buncee throughout the next three months as she gets them ready to show at the county fair.  It is fun to think about how much she will learn by raising the pigs, showing them at the fair, and telling her story using lots of different types of media.  
Tonight as Hagan was playing NBA with his cousin Carson two hours away, I couldn't help to think about media literacy and what the world will look like to the boys in 5 years.  

It is our responsibility to include media literacy skills in our language arts, social studies, health, science and library curriculum and standards.  We must ensure our young people will know how to discover, understand, identify, evaluate, create and advocate in this media rich world.  We must be here to help them navigate all of this safely and wisely too. 

This is the world that our children live in.  One that surrounds them with media rich experiences and technologies as Grayce, Hagan and Carson showed us today with the new relationships they have with media and each other.  

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