Special Awareness Days

October 24th-28th - National Media Literacy Week


"Young Canadians aren't just passive consumers of media anymore – they're broadcasters too. It's harder than ever to tell the difference between accurate information and advertising, misinformation and parody, and it's easy for any of us to inadvertently spread false information."
(Cathy Wing, co-Executive Director, MediaSmarts, 2018)

Media plays a huge role in the lives of our students. It provides a window to the world; it allows us to communicate across borders; it informs and teaches us about so many things in so many ways.

MediaSmarts, Canada's centre for digital and media literacy, suggest we celebrate each of the first five days of the week by highlighting one of five media literacy themes - use, understand, engage, access, and verify. For more information and activities related to this theme, please check out the MediaSmarts Teachers’ Hub

In today’s world of social networking it is more important than ever to “be aware before you share.” It takes only a second to click and spread information, but have you made the effort to fact-check your sources and information? Have you been thoughtful and respectful with your choice of words? Are you certain that sharing this information will be beneficial to you and to all others who might see it?

As digital citizens in today’s wired world, it is important that students learn to be critical users and producers of media. By asking questions, making comments, and sharing opinions, students can play a role in shaping media representations, including the importance of inclusivity in all media.

Activity Bursts

K-2 - Media Literacy

For younger children it is important to teach them that media products are constructions. A media product (e.g., an ad, a movie, a TV show, a billboard) has been created by a group of individuals. It has been designed for a particular audience for a particular purpose.

Watch the video“House Hippo 2.0” https://mediasmarts.ca/break-fake


  • Have you ever seen a House Hippo?
  • Where do you think you might find one?
  • Do you think that everything you see on television, on the Internet, or in video games is true? Discuss.

Explain that the House Hippo is just one example that gets us thinking about what we believe in the media.

Remind students that they need to remember to:

  • Check where the information is coming from. Do they think it is a reliable source?
  • Ask an adult to help them check several sources to find out if what they are seeing, hearing, and experiencing in the media is real or fake.

3-5 - Media Literacy

It is important that when you use various forms of media, you understand what has gone on behind the scenes to create or construct the experience. That way, you can use your critical thinking skills to verify the information.

Ask students if they have ever seen a clam eating. If so, invite them to describe the process. Explain that they are going to watch a video entitled, “Live clam eats salt on table.

After watching, ask:

  • Raise your hand if you think this video is real. What makes you think so?
  • How many do not believe this clam is actually licking up salt on a table. Why?

Explain the science behind what the clam is doing in this video. The “tongue” is actually the clam’s foot. The action we see is not “licking” but the movement a beached clam does to drag itself back into the water. The salt has nothing to do with what is going on; the salt was on the table and the clam’s action simply looks like it is related to the salt.  

Ask students now to consider these questions:

  • Is this video real?
  • Is the video truly showing what it says it does?

Confirm with students that the video “Live clam licks salt on a table” consists of real footage, but it is not truthful. If viewers aren’t familiar with clam biology, they might be willing to believe that they’re watching a clam’s tongue licking at flavourful salt – maybe because it resembles a human action we are familiar with. Add the caption “Live clam eats salt on table,” and viewers may feel convinced that this is what the video is showing.

As MediaSmarts reminds us, “There are two basic components to authenticating online information: critical thinking skills that let you ask key questions and the technical skills that help you answer them.” 

That’s why it is important to ask questions about what we see in the media and think about how to check both the authenticity and the truthfulness of what is presented to us. Ask students to suggest ways they could check whether a video like the one you watched is truthful.

For more information about this video and the authentication process, go to the following link on the MediaSmart website here

6-8 - Media Literacy

Share the information in the Introduction and discuss the themes: use, understand, engage, access, and verify.  


  • Why do you think these 5 media literacy themes are important?
  • When you do research online, how do you determine which sources are credible?
  • What questions do you ask yourself to check for accuracy?
  • How do you decide whether to trust information you hear and see about day-to-day events?

MediaSmarts and Facebook Canada have partnered together to develop the Reality Check! program. Watch their video entitled “News You Can Use.” found here.

Distribute the “News You Can Use Tip Sheet" from the MediaSmart website here.

Review the three tips on the sheet.

Close by asking:

  • What is one thing you learned about making sure that the online resources you are using are accurate?
  • How can you avoid being a victim of “fake news?”

Also, check out the new Teacher’s Hub on the MediaSmarts website.


Additional Ideas:

Visit the MediaSmarts website at https://mediasmarts.ca/break-fake

Watch “House Hippo 2.0” and other informative videos available on the MediaSmarts website. Try the 2019 quiz and view the fact-checking tools and lesson plans for the theme of “Break the Fake.” Ask students to summarize the best ways to fact-check all media for accuracy and truth. Remind them to take these steps as well when they are doing research or developing a school project using any media source.

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