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Media Literacy Games, Tools, and Lessons

There’s no doubt about it: kids and teens are inundated with media messages. Given it’s tough now to even separate their digital lives from their “real” lives, kids are seemingly always plugged in and consuming something that’s been created — and mediated. This makes media literacy more important than ever before.

But what is media literacy? While it continues to evolve, at its core media literacy helps students learn to find, consume, and create media critically. It should also help them understand how media is made, by whom it’s made, and for what purposes it’s made. There are a lot of games, tools, and lessons out there to help students build and practice these essential skills, but not all have kept pace with the changing world. On this list, we’ve curated those that have and will help your students build critical and creative skills that will gain them mastery over thinking about and using media.

For more resources, check out our News and Media Literacy Resource Center.

Media Literacy Lessons

Project Look Sharp

Mighty media literacy resources powered by inquiry-based approach

Bottom Line: A thoughtfully-created collection of tools for teaching media literacy across the curriculum.

Grades: K–12
Price:
Free

ThinkCERCA

Structured literacy program inspires deep analysis, thoughtful writing

Bottom Line: This is an expertly scaffolded and pedagogically sound resource for developing critical reading and writing skills.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Paid

Get Media L.I.T.

Vibrant, quality comics anchor basic but good media literacy lessons

Bottom Line: The comics are impressive and the lessons provide useful conversation starters, but they'll likely need to be supplemented with additional material to be effective.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free to try

KQED Learn

Civic discussion site encourages media literacy and deep thinking

Bottom Line: This platform features excellent videos students will enjoy discussing, but teachers will need to prep students to make quality contributions.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

Digital Civics Toolkit

Superb, timely civics lessons focus on social media and student voice

Bottom Line: For teachers looking to make civics relevant to students, there's nothing else out there as extensive or relevant.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Free

Media Literacy Games and Activities

DocsTeach

Historical texts, interactive activities can promote critical thinking

Bottom Line: This text-rich app encourages students to conduct their own analysis of history, but the formats and graphics may prevent them from making a thorough analysis.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

Most Likely Machine

Interactive experience quickly exposes algorithms

Bottom Line: This is an effective and well-designed intro to the dangers of algorithms and how we have to approach them with care.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

NewsFeed Defenders

Social media simulation builds news literacy skills

Bottom Line: This is a great tool to kick off critical discussions about news and social media.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

Thinkalong

Civics site offers a PBS-guided approach to thoughtful debate

Bottom Line: This is a powerful framework for building critical media literacy, but teachers might need to bring in some extra perspectives.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Free

Media Literacy Tools and Resources

Pixton

Popular comics platform puts students' focus on creation

Bottom Line: This is a platform with the potential to motivate students, getting them to share subject knowledge in a way that blends art and literacy.

Grades: 2–12
Price:
Free, Paid

Edpuzzle

Crop, customize, and remix online video content with interactive tool

Bottom Line: This is a valuable tool that teachers can use to flip classrooms or support student-led creation.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Free, Paid

Screencastify

Easy screen-recording tool facilitates outside-the-box instruction

Bottom Line: This is an instructional tool that could reinvent classroom workflow, especially for classrooms in the Google ecosystem.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Free, Paid

Digital Public Library of America

Organized digital library features piles of useful primary resources

Bottom Line: DPLA is at the top of the list of high-grade, online primary source collections if teachers make effective use of what's on offer.

Grades: 5–12
Price:
Free

Hypothes.is

Browser extension adds layer of annotation and discussion to the web

Bottom Line: Free, user-friendly tool opens up the web to in-context analysis, annotation, and discussion.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

Photoshop Express Photo Editor

Top-notch photo editor helps perfect pics for creative projects

Bottom Line: This is a powerful, free creation tool from the industry leader in photo editing.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

Sutori

Build timelines, embed media with cool storytelling tool

Bottom Line: With a super-simple design and tons of flexible features, this is an appealing and intuitive way for teachers and students to organize and share class content.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free, Paid

ThingLink

Unique annotation tool adds learning depth to images, videos

Bottom Line: It's unlike anything else out there, helping students and teachers produce interactive multimedia presentations embedded in images and videos.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free, Paid

Miro

Interactive whiteboard lets users brainstorm, organize, and collaborate

Bottom Line: This versatile, beautiful platform invites collaboration, creation, and presentation and is useful for everything from workflow tasks to creative expression.

Grades: 8–12
Price:
Free

Critical Media Project

Relevant media clips get students examining identity, culture

Bottom Line: Teachers will need to take time to build effective lessons, but if they do, this is a useful, relevant, high-interest resource for deconstructing identity and building critical thinking and empathy skills.

Grades: 9–12
Price:
Free

Gimp

Free, full-featured photo and image editing app impressive, daunting

Bottom Line: It's a great choice for students and teachers with needs beyond simple tweaking, cropping, and color correction, but requires significant self-directed learning.

Grades: 9–12
Price:
Free

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