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Student Commons

  1. Rethinking MySpace: Using social networking tools to connect with students
  2. The future of YouTube: Critical reflections on YouTube Users
  3. Reading the World Through Film: Literacy Strategies in the History Classroom
  4. Digital Storytelling and Technology in the Classroom
  5. Motivating with Media
  6. Critical Media Literacy: A Pedagogy for New Literacies and Urban Youth

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Rethinking MySpace: Using social networking tools to connect with students

Author(s): Antero Garcia


As a high school English teacher in an Urban Los Angeles public school, Antero Garcia documents his struggle accessing popular youth social networking site, MySpace, to connect with students. At the same time, this article identifies the challenges of reconciling a critical look at the Fox-owned site and the justice-oriented intentions of his curricula. This article explains how Garcia used MySpace to connect with students beyond the walls of the classroom and how it offered an additional space for student learning within a popular youth culture context.

UPDATE:  Since "Rethinking MySpace" was published in summer 2008, the landscape of social networking and digital media has changed significantly. With celebrities regularly Twittering, parents hopping on to Facebook, and socioeconomic status fracturing between adopters of MySpace and Facebook, the realm of social networks is no longer a select niche of youth  culture. As such, I've shifted the ways I utilize social networks within my class. Most specifically, I've urged my students to join Facebook and I am now using it as the main hub for communication with students. My reasons behind this are many. Facebook's "groups" feature is better suited for student collaboration than MySpace - I now have private groups for each of my classes - students regularly engage in conversation, post relevant links, and critique each others' writing on the site. Additionally, as Facebook is now being used professionally by businesses and universities, I felt like asking students to join Facebook was a useful compromise; students are still able to network socially on the site but are also joining a larger network that is currently poised to help them leverage professional and academic capital. Former alumni continue to contact me through MySpace, but the same experiences and breakthroughs discussed in “Rethinking MySpace” have now migrated to Facebook. Ultimately, it is necessary to recognize that social networking is still an emerging media form and likely to significantly change in the next few years; as it does, so too will the ways in which I use it to engage my students.


APA Citation:

Garcia, A. (2008). Rethinking MySpace: Using social networking tools to connect with students. Rethinking Schools, 22 (4), 27-29.

Article appears with permission from the publishers at Rethinking Schools, © 2008, online at:

028RethinkMySpacePP019.pdf — PDF document, 530Kb

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The future of YouTube: Critical reflections on YouTube Users

Author(s): Gooyong Kim


This paper examines how the sociopolitical and educational potentials of YouTube have been exercised by analyzing users' discussion practices by posting videos. Compared to literature that deals with the Internet's sociopolitical impact, Gooyong Kim argues that YouTube has played a key role in implementing the democratization of media spectacles. Different forms of Internet use are discussed with regard to YouTube's contributions. First of all, the discursive practices of YouTube validate Habermas's notion of the public sphere by suggesting video communication as a new perspective of participatory democracy. Creating community is another key notion that users consider to be the future of YouTube; users believe it facilitates interactive and creative communication among different cultures, races, and societies. However, there is little consideration of how individuals make critical use of YouTube as a means for sociopolitical engagement. Analyzing the users' arguments in their video responses, this paper examines the strengths, as well as the limitations, of discourses on the future of YouTube, and reconsiders its sociopolitical potential. It ultimately indicates the necessity of critical pedagogic interventions to make full use of YouTube.


APA Citation: 

Kim, G. (2009). The Future of YouTube: Critical Reflections on YouTube Users' Discussion over Its Future. InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies 5(2).


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Reading the World Through Film: Literacy Strategies in the History Classroom

Author(s): Erin Deis


Research shows that many students see history as a series of unrelated dates, names and facts to be memorized and accepted.  During her first year of teaching middle school, Erin Deis observed that students from marginalized groups, especially those from recent immigrant families, found the study of American history especially alienating, as they did not see themselves as “American”. Using socio-cultural theory, Deis focuses on the use of critical media literacy lessons and historically themed films as a means through which to engage students and encourage critical thinking. In this inquiry, Deis explains the findings from a qualitative study that investigated the use of media literacy and peer discussion groups in an eighth grade history classroom to explore the issues of bias inherent in historically themed films and history in general. Students were engaged in the process, while they practiced important critical thinking skills. These findings suggest that English learners and struggling readers can be supported academically in the history classroom by incorporating the critical viewing of historically themed films and meaningful small-group discussions. Teachers can also encourage critical thinking in history and other content areas, and media representations in everyday life, through the incorporation of critical media literacy lessons and strategies.

032ReadingWorldFilmIP012.pdf — PDF document, 203Kb

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Digital Storytelling and Technology in the Classroom

Author(s): Sarah Bang


This essay recounts a first year TEP student’s experiences with student teaching in a second grade classroom and her attempts to engage and expand her students’ literacy, intrinsic motivation and self-expression through digital storytelling and technology.


Student Sample

View the iMovie project "Courage" by the 2nd grade students discussed in this essay.

033DigitalStoryIP013.pdf — PDF document, 175Kb

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Motivating with Media

Author(s): Kalil Cohen


This reflection was written by a student teacher working in a middle school classroom in downtown Los Angeles. He reviews his work bringing movie making into a 6th grade English/History class. This experiment became a wonderful opportunity for him to see the positive effects that media literacy can have with middle school students.

034MotivateWithMediaIP014.pdf — PDF document, 160Kb

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Critical Media Literacy: A Pedagogy for New Literacies and Urban Youth

Author(s): Mohammed Choudhury and Jeff Share


Using new literacies critically can be an excellent pedagogy for motivating and empowering students who feel alienated from their school and society.  This article describes how one middle school teacher engaged his inner-city English language learners with critical media literacy as a way of making their learning more meaningful and motivating.  The students interviewed and photographed community members, analyzed portrayals in the media of themselves and their neighborhood, and created their own alternative representations of their concerns and findings.  Not only did the students increase their self-esteem and sense of pride in their community, they also demonstrated substantial academic gains in their English language development.

Critical Media Literacy - A Pedagogy for New Literacies and Urban Youth.pdf — PDF document, 432Kb

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