2019 Sumy Media Literacy Institute


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Foreign Languages Department of Education  and Research Institute for Business Technologies “UAB” of Sumy State University  in collaboration with English Language Fellow, Wendy Finlayson, who is currently working at Sumy A.S. Makarenko State Pedagogical University, was the leading co-organizer of 2019 Sumy Media Literacy Institute «Incorporating Media Literacy in English Language Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century». The event held on November 22-23, 2019 in Congress Center of Sumy State University was part of a grant project sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. The selected 76 participants (28 primary and secondary school teachers and 48 university English teachers), representing 24 schools and 25 universities from 14 regions of Ukraine, participated in a wide-ranging discussion on how to develop and implement critical thinking and media literacy in English language classroom as 21st century learner core competencies.

The presenters of the Institute were: Wendy Finlayson and Francisco Resto, fellows of the US Department of State English Language Teaching Program; Ashly Emerson and Shaun Hicks, US Peace Corps volunteers, as well as Ukrainian presenters Maryna Tsehelska (Vice President of TESOL-Ukraine, Director of the “Interclass” Education Center, Kryvyi Rih) and online mass course “VeryVerified Online Course” facilitators Olena Tanchyk (Head of the Department of Foreign Languages ​​of Donetsk State University of Management, Mariupol) and Oksana Torubara (Assistant Professor of Taras Shevchenko National University “Chernihiv College”, Chernihiv).

The Institute participants received a strong impetus for the introduction of innovative practices in teaching English by participating in a series of workshops.

In the workshop “21st Century Skills and Media Literacy” (workshop facilitator Wendy Finlayson), participants identified the top 21st century skills which are on-demand by employers and how those skills are connected to the New Ukrainian School Reform and media literacy. The participants also learned how to apply three essential questions for teachers to media literacy lessons.

The Workshop “Gender Representation and Diversity in Mass Media” (workshop facilitator Ashly Emerson) explored how gender and diversity impact media, and more importantly how media impacts gender and diversity dynamics. Through this session, the participants practiced the techniques to integrate inclusive conversations into the English language learning classrooms.

The aim of the workshop “Aristotle and Media Literacy” (workshop facilitator Francisco Resto) was to define the concept of media literacy and then identify three methods of persuasion used in advertising. The participants applied these concepts in their own media messages.

As studies reflect, teachers are convinced of the importance of critical thinking. However, too many are uncertain about what critical thinking actually entails, and even fewer can consistently offer it through instruction. The session “Teaching Critical Thinking in the 21st Century” by Shaun Hicks examined what critical thinking is, why it is important, what teachers need to know about critical thinking and identify ways in which teachers can foster critical thinking in their classrooms. Beginning with a definition and justification of why critical thinking is so essential in today’s world, the participants then touched on “Bloom’s Taxonomy”, and progressed through some reliable and interactive examples of how to ensure the students are thinking critically during their time in class. Having followed this workshop, the participants left with a rejuvenated perspective of how to make their students’ education invaluable for future challenges they are sure to face.

The main idea of the session “The Language of Media” by Maryna Tsehelska was to examine how media attracts and persuades consumers. The participants learned how the Jungian archetypes are used in marketing, reflected in various ways of presenting information and analyzed some media texts to discover the peculiarities of persuasive language. At the end of the session, the participants identified the most persuasive techniques and explained how they may be used in teaching practice.

In the workshop “How to Discern Bias in News Reporting” (workshop facilitator Olena Tanchyk), the participants discussed the meaning of media bias and were introduced to several common types of bias. During the session, some ways used to pull the wool over media consumers’ eyes were demonstrated (namely facts, photos, bots and trolls that can be exploited in manipulative ways). The workshop was aimed at equipping participants with the skills to identify biases in news and social media.

Now, when the two insightful days of 2019 Sumy Media Literacy Institute «Incorporating Media Literacy in English Language Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century» have already become a bright success story, the next stage of the project is on the way. Participants are committed to disseminate the ideas they’ve gained and are willing to make these ideas work in their educational settings.

This two-day event, aimed at supporting the ongoing reform process in the education sector and providing professional opportunities for upgrading the qualifications of secondary and tertiary education EFL teachers in Ukraine has become a platform for the exchange of ideas, practices and insights, and thus enabled its participants to establish a network of contacts for further fruitful professional collaboration.

Deep gratitude to all the organizers and speakers of the event!

Follow the links below to find out more about the 2019 Sumy Media Literacy Institute: