Join the Mailing List

Evaluating Media Messages to Teach Reading Analysis

November 8, 2020 No Comments
Media literacy activities are an important way for elementary students to learn how to identify and analyze written, visual, and auditory media messages.

More than anything, it’s important to stay relevant when it comes to teaching upper elementary readers. Your 4th and 5th graders are constantly bombarded by audio, visual, and written messages in the media. From YouTube to streaming television shows, podcasts, and online blogs and magazines, students are getting their news and entertainment through media. However, even though they are receiving these messages, they may not know how to truly interpret them. Using media messages to teach reading analysis will not only help your upper elementary students become better readers, they’ll also learn how to evaluate what they see, hear, and read in the media.

This types of media messages anchor chart is perfect to use on the wall or in reading notebooks as you teach a media literacy unit.

Where to Find Media Messages

Media messages are everywhere, but where do you find the best ones to teach reading analysis to upper elementary students? Here are a few safe places online to search.


Find audio media messages in engaging, school-appropriate podcasts for students! Common Sense Media curated a list of podcasts appropriate for different grade levels and content areas. 

Start with The Past and the Curious for fun historical stories or KidNuz for child-friendly current events.

Audio media messages also come in radio commercials. Turn on the AM or FM radio and have your students analyze some commercials as they come on for a quick check for understanding. You can also find recorded commercials online to replay for your students.

Don’t forget about music! Have your students recommend a favorite school appropriate song. Start evaluating pop songs and share some of your old favorites!


Visual media messages come in the form of television shows, images, websites, and movies. Your students probably spend a lot of time on YouTube. Why not start there? Pull up some popular videos from kid-friendly YouTubers like British gamer DanTDM or Dude Perfect (the trick basketball shot team). 

Watching a clip from a movie or a television show? This is also a perfect opportunity to start evaluating media messages. 


Media messages are also presented in written form. Newspapers, magazines, ads, and ebooks convey media messages on and offline. Students are also exposed to written media messages through social media and blog posts. Share some “tweets” and Snapchats found online for your students to analyze without creating their own social media accounts. 

Make evaluating media messages relevant by including blogs and articles about content that applies to your students and their community. Using a local newspaper is an engaging way to teach your students how to read current news from their own town and state.

Learn all about these types of media messages and have your students brainstorm where to find them with the ready-to-use media message analysis unit

Analyzing media messages requires students to think about a lot of factors, including the reliability and bias of the author and the intended purpose.

Analyzing Media Messages

Once you choose content to share with your students, you can teach them questions to ask. I share questions in five categories with my students. These are all factors that impact the media message whether it’s print, audio, or visual.

  • author
  • format
  • audience
  • content
  • purpose


To begin, students should reflect on who created the message. Is there bias? What do they know about the reliability of the author?


Next, the format of the message is also an important piece. Students should recognize if the message is in print, video, or audio format, for example.


Another factor to consider is asking who is the intended audience of the media message. In other words, who is the author trying to reach?


This is often the piece students want to jump into immediately, but it’s important to look at content or what the message is about in connection with the other factors. What features are used to deliver the message, and are they effective?


My students always liked to refer to purpose as “PIE”. When looking at the author’s purpose of the message, is it to persuade, inform, or entertain?

Review each factor of a media message by answering questions related to author, format, audience, content, and purpose with the ready-to-use media message analysis sheets included in the complete media message unit. 

Creating Media Messages

After your students learn all about evaluating media messages, it’s time to create their own! It’s simple with the media message lessons provided in the unit.

You’ll get everything you need from start to finish to help your students understand what a media message is, how to evaluate and analyze media messages, and how to create their own. Get started evaluating media messages to teach reading analysis in your upper elementary classroom! 

Media literacy is an essential unit to teach upper elementary students and beyond. Let's dive into the formats of different media messages and how we can teach students to analyze them.

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Join the Mailing List for Tips, Ideas, and Freebies!