Students often enjoy looking at art and being able to understand the different techniques an artist has used. In our media lessons with Grade 2 this year we introduced students to the wonderful website from the National Gallery of Art Kidzone where students were able to create many original pieces of digital art and then add them into Animoto to make their own art movies. However visual literacy goes a step further - since students are being constantly bombarded with images it is important that they understand how to "read" the information that is being communicated visually so that they understand that images can be manipulated. In the past I have taught lessons using fake websites such as the Tree Octopus or Dog Island and students were initially fooled into thinking these were genuine websites because they contain images. As Baker writes many students "don't have the visual literacy skills they need to be critical viewers and competent communicators in a digital world."
In our Grade 4 students study and eventually also make their own advertisements. We develop this further in Grade 5 as students put on a trade fair and need to advertise the products or services that they are selling. The adverts the students create can be posters or videos, and next year I'd like to have them also try to make radio scripts too using different sound effects.
At the same time that we teach media lessons, it's important to continually reinforce the necessity of being responsible digital citizens. Students understand the need to write using their own words, but many teachers and students need to be constantly reminded that many online images and sound are also copyrighted and they need to be responsible in locating media that is labelled for reuse - and then citing where this media came from.
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