Media Education in Nova Scotia

This section comprises a curricular overview (below), as well as information about professional development for media education, and about Nova Scotia’s provincial media education association, Media Literacy Nova Scotia (MLNS) in the left menu.

Also included in the sidebar are curriculum outcome charts from Nova Scotia’s English Language Arts, Social Studies and Information Technology curricula. These charts include links to supporting MediaSmarts resources and lessons.

Last reviewed in July 2016

Curricular Overview

The Nova Scotia Department of Education and Culture was the leader in the development of the Atlantic Canada English Language Arts curriculum, which was carried out under the auspices of the Atlantic Provinces Education Foundation (APEF) and released in 1996.

Media literacy figures prominently in the APEF English Language Arts curriculum. The curriculum builds on the concept that literacy means moving beyond competency in the written word, to the ability to use and understand visual and technological means of communication. Its goal is to create critical media consumers who can, and will, bring critical analysis to their use of the media. In Nova Scotia, media literacy is also developed through the APEF social studies curriculum and a new Canadian History course.

In Nova Scotia, media literacy is integrated throughout the curricula at both the elementary and secondary levels, especially as reflected in five of the six essential Graduation Learnings - Aesthetic Expression, Citizenship, Communication, Personal Development, Problem Solving and Technical Competence.

Although media education is most prominent in the English Language Arts and Social Studies curricula, the Department has also developed a Grade 12 Film and Video Production course, which incorporates production, theory and media analysis. At the Grade 6 level, two media-based tests have been included in the provincial assessment.

Other subject areas that lend themselves to media studies include African-Canadian Studies, Family Studies, Mi-Kmaq Studies, Health, Personal Development, and Science and Technology.

In the APEF English Language Arts Curriculum Guides, the “Role of Media Literacy” is described separately from the roles of Drama, Literature, Critical Literacy, Visual Literacy and Information Literacy.

Information Literacy.

According to the guide for Grades 7-9:

Media literacy deals with the culture and lifestyle of students. They enjoy thinking and talking about what is going on in the media. For teachers, it is an opportunity to have students examine how they are influencing and being influenced by popular culture.

The guide also states:

How teachers choose to integrate media literacy into the English language arts program will be determined by what the students are reading and writing. On some occasions students might be involved in comparing (the print version of a story to the film version; ad images to the product being sold), examining (the use of images in music videos and newspapers, sexism in advertising), writing (an article in a magazine, a letter to an editor), producing (a pamphlet on an issue, a radio ad), and creating (a video, a school radio show, announcements for the school PA). Media literacy is a form of critical thinking that is cross-curricular. It is more about good questions than correct answers.

The guide for Grades 10-12 builds on those ideas and includes statements such as:

For teachers media literacy is an opportunity to examine the reliability, accuracy and motives of these sources;

and

Media study allows students to investigate issues of power and control. Mass media information is being consolidated into the hands of a few people. There are relatively few decision makers or gatekeepers to decide what and who gets heard.

The guides include the key concepts of media literacy and goals for

  • designing learning experiences that enable students to recognize them.
  • Nova Scotia’s Department of Education is currently assessing how media literacy teachers are on staff.