Teaching Critical Literacy in a Multimedia World

For my Eduro Learning‘s course, I am to design a lesson about digital media literacy lenses (Decoding Design, Making Meaning, Looking at Language, Linking Your Own Learning) for my “students”, which in my case are teachers. The lesson should include the three stages of research: a good question, a good search, a good article, as well as Enduring Understanding(s); Essential Question(s) and Specific Learning Outcomes

I have always been fascinated by Alan November’s book Web Literacy for Educators and his workshops around Search Literacy which includes audience participation in conducting a live web search. I have found that many teachers lack advanced search skills beyond basic skills and are surprised how much they did not know that they did not know about online searching. This is my starting point for designing a lesson for teachers, I work with around the “now literacies”, including digital citizenship, information, network, global and media literacies.

Lesson Title: Searching For What You Did Not Know, That You Did Not Know

Enduring Understanding(s):

  • Online search skills and strategies are necessary to amplify search results that go beyond expected results.
  • Digital media literacy strategies can be used to evaluate digital informational texts and search results.

Essential Question(s):

  • How can we support teachers in extending/amplifying their own information bubble (geographic, language, perspective limitations) and search beyond expected results.
  • How can we help teachers to search with extensions, country codes so that their search results are more efficient, effective, and filtered?

Learning Outcome(s): After completing this lesson, teachers will be able to use and also help guide their students:

  • Search for information from different points of views around the world.
  • Search for information within different organizations.
  • Search for information within in platforms other than Google search engine.
  • Identify embedded clues that indicate bias/agenda/point of view, even if they do not understand the language of the text.
  • Recognize how cultural points of view can shape our understanding of what we believe to be true and universal.


Ask teachers to search for information around the reasons behind the German Reunification in 1989. In a shared Google Doc, ask them to copy/paste their exact search in a specific column of the table [Ask them not to peek what others have entered, before they paste their own search query]

In addition to the exact query they entered, ask teachers to document the type of results they received.

  • What type of websites were returned (commercial, personal account, newspaper/magazine article, government site, academic site, etc.?
  • What results did they choose to click on? Why?
  • What language was the site written in?
  • From what country was the site published?
  • When was the site published?

Keeping the 3 Stages of Research in mind: A Good Question (be able to formulate good questions), A Good Search (search effectively), A Good Article (choosing the “right article”), share the stages with your teachers and ask them how they would filter results published in specific countries, in a specific language (even one they might not speak), from a specific time frame or from a specific domain name?

Go over the following search strategies with teachers to edit their previous query or give teachers time to check the following article by Alan November to learn about:

Now, ask them to refine their search query by (a) using the search strategies mentioned above regarding amplifying searches as well as (b) refine their searches narrowing them “from topics to questions to precise search queries” Let them record again their exact query and describe the types of results they received. Compare and contrast to previous results, add a short reflection.

Have teachers change their search query a third time, testing and combining different search strings. Again, have them add their query, the result and their reflection of changes in search results.

  • What do they notice in results as they change keywords, add filtering strategies, such as time, language, domain name extensions, etc.?
  • How do sites compare/differ in terms of point of view/perspectives on the given topic? What could the reasons be?
  • How do results compare/differ in terms of their publication date?
  • Using a translation site, if English, German, French or Russian is not spoken, how do sites in these four languages compare/contrast in their reasoning behind the German Reunification?

Allow for time for teachers to read each other’s search queries/progress/process/results/reflections…

Optional Extension:

  • Discuss how to search beyond text in Google (image and reverse image Searches, File Type Searches). Search places other than Google: Twitter, Slideshare, Pinterest, etc.
  • Teachers write a reflective blog post. Embedding the Visible Thinking Routines (ex. I used to think searching online was… Now I think…)
  • Have teachers create a lesson plan to implement an amplified search strategy with their own students.

Further Resources: