Visual & Media Literacy

Snag Films and Snag Learning are the go-to places for free documentaries, but Documentary Tube may have some documentaries that aren't available on those two sites.  

In this free  award-winning documentary, Renee Hobbs offers a compelling analysis of how news and entertainment covered the Rodney King beating and 1992 Los Angeles riots and introduces the key concepts

A Conversation with Martin Scorsese: The Importance of Visual Literacy

The filmmaker touches on topics ranging from the importance of teaching visual literacy to violence in films to the preservation of classic movies

Digital Media - New Learners Of The 21st Century: Featuring the foremost thought leaders, innovators and practitioners in the field, Digital Media is a startling preview of a 21st Century education revolution.

 A Boy Like Me - Original excerpt from Bill Cosby film.

A Girl Like Me - Kiri Davis, high school student, investigates societal images influencing African American children's self-image and identity.

The advertising industry's control over the image of women. 

MyPop Studio is an online creative play experience for girls ages 9 – 14 that promotes media literacy with edutainment gaming.  According to the site, girls can go “behind the scenes” to think critically about how media is created and to question the messages we see. Lesson plans and activities accompany the website and are available as free downloads to enhance the digital learning experience.

You might lead students to move past external aspects of beauty to many aspects that relate to inner beauty. We want them to appreciate the difference between beauty and artifice, cosmetics and glamor. This process is outlined in the two articles below:

Palm Oil in Cosmetics and more


Media Education Lab at Temple University offers this introductory flash animation that defines media literacy as literacy for the information age, focusing on the skills of accessing, analyzing, evaluating and composing messages in a wide variety of forms.

The Challenges of media literacy

 Alltel's recent family data plan commercial is full of racial stereotypes and classic techniques of persuasion to sell viewers their brand of cell phone service.

  • Learning to Change, Changing to Learn (Kid’s Tech) – A video featuring students talking about their passionate for technology, and their use of media, technology, and social networks. See other videos from this group at High Tech High.
  • The World According to Sesame Street – From Independent Lens (PBS), this documentary serves to answer the question, “with today’s global landscape dominated by such pressing issues as poverty, human rights, AIDS and ethnic genocide, how can the world’s most-watched children’s television show bridge cultures while remaining socially relevant?” The video can be viewed in 9 parts on Youtube
  • Manufacturing Consent – This Canadian documentary, based on the Chomsky/Herman book by the same name, explores the propaganda model of media.
  • Orwell Rolls In His Grave – This documentary explores the relationship between corporations, government, and the media. The film posits that “media no longer report news, but only manage it, deciding what makes the headlines and what is conveniently ignored.”


  • Reading Film-Understanding Film and Film making. See Film Foundation for lessons
  • Tweenbots – What would happen if you release a human dependent robot into a New York park with the single goal of getting to the other side of the park? Would the human network get the robot to its destination? The video is interesting because in some ways it challenges the techno-determinist mindset that society has had for at least a century, and reflects an emerging emphasis; the power of humans in human networks.
  • The World According to Monsanto – This is an excellent documentary that looks at the control and domination of agriculture by the Monsanto corporation. The video deals closely with the control and shaping of information, messages, and media, and would fit into many areas of a school curriculum.


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