Teaching Media: Critically Evaluating Media Lesson Plan


Level: Grades 1 to 6

Author: Matthew Johnson, Director of Education, MediaSmarts

media representation

This lesson is part of USE, UNDERSTAND & ENGAGE: A Digital Media Literacy Framework for Canadian Schools.


In this lesson, students learn how media influence how we see the world and send intentional and unintentional messages.

Learning Outcomes

Big ideas/key concepts: Students will understand that...

Media are constructions:

  • Media are imperfect representations of reality
  • Media makers make intentional and unintentional choices when making a media work
  • Media have social and political implications:
  • Media influence how we see reality, including what we see as being good or bad

Key questions:

  • What does media tell us about the real world?
  • What does media tell us about things like kindness or friendship?
  • How can media works say things that the people who made them didn't mean to say?
  • How does what happens to different characters shape our idea of what's good and bad?
  • How does what is put in to (or left out of) a media work affect the meaning we take from it?

Frequent student misconceptions: Media are an accurate reflection of reality; all media messages are conscious and intentional

Essential knowledge: Students will know...

Media representation: Media communicate explicit and implicit messages through story, characterization, and framing

Key vocabulary: Media frame

Performance tasks: Students will…

  • Consider ways in which media accurately and inaccurately reflect reality
  • Analyze implications of media portrayals on our values
  • Reflect on how media experiences have shaped their views and values

This lesson and all associated documents (handouts, overheads, backgrounders) is available in an easy-print, pdf kit version.