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Lesson Plans
How Media Shapes Perception
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

As the tragic events and aftermath of September 11, 2001 unfold on our television and computer screens, students must understand the impact that the media may have in shaping their intellectual and emotional responses. As Marshall McLuhan once stated, "The medium is the message." How much of this statement rings true during this time of crisis? In this lesson, your students will explore this central question as they look at broadcast and Web-based news sites to discern subtexts conveyed through the use of language, audio, and visual elements. Your students will also explore how experts view the media's impact on young minds. Ultimately, students will manipulate these elements themselves to create their own homepages.

Grade Level:

Time Allotment:
5-7 50 minute class periods

Subject Matter:
Language Arts: Journalism, Media Literacy

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
  • Identify elements that editors use to convey editorial bias.
  • Analyze the emotional impact of the news on the viewing public.
  • Understand key arguments and evidence about the media's influence on children.
  • Manipulate language and design elements to convey their own opinions about a major news event.


National Standards

MCREL Language Arts Standards

Standard 10:
Understands the characteristics and components of the media

1. Understands that media messages have economic, political, social, and aesthetic purposes (e.g., to make money, to gain power or authority over others, to present ideas about how people should think or behave, to experiment with different kinds of symbolic forms or ideas)

10. Understands the influence of media on society as a whole (e.g., influence in shaping various governmental, social, and cultural norms; influence on the democratic process; influence on beliefs, lifestyles, and understanding of relationships and culture; how it shapes viewer's perceptions of reality; the various consequences in society of ideas and images in media)

12. Understands the role of the media in addressing social and cultural issues (e.g., creating or promoting causes: U.N. military action, election of political parties; use of media to achieve governmental, societal, and cultural goals)

National Council for the Social Studies: Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Civic Ideals and Practices: Provide for the study of the ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic. Students:
  • locate, access, analyze, organize, synthesize, evaluate, and apply information about selected public issues, while identifying, describing, and evaluating multiple points of view

This lesson was prepared by Richard Freedman.