Greater Metropolitan New York Social Studies Conference 2017

Learning to teach media literacy
Miller Photography

Award-winning social studies teacher Alexis Cicale is the center of attention as her colleagues from New Utrecht HS in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, congratulate her.

Miller Photography

Attendees listen to keynote speaker John Splaine, an associate professor emeritus at the University of Maryland.

In a prescient pre-election decision, the 57th annual Greater Metropolitan New York Social Studies Conference this year chose as its theme Media Literacy: Who Shapes the Narrative. “We, as social studies teachers, have a mandate to teach our students to become media literate. It must be done and now is the time,” noted a message to participants from conference co-chairs Robert Dytell, a professor at Queens College, and Michael Freydin, a teacher at JHS 107 in Rego Park, Queens. The daylong conference at union headquarters was sponsored by the Association of Teachers of Social Studies/UFT. “It’s always nice to see old friends again, but it is especially nice to meet and counsel the new teachers we meet at this conference,” said Robert Hardmond of Brooklyn Technical HS in Fort Greene. One of those new teachers, Deneese Ortiz of Automotive HS in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, noted, “I have learned a lot of strategies which I definitely will be using in my classroom.” The Feb. 11 conference included a bustling exhibitor center and 18 workshops across grade levels, many of which emphasized ways to help students become media savvy. Making Sense of the News: Using Literacy Lessons in Your Classroom explored ways to develop critical thinking skills and help students identify reliable information. Active citizenship in a democracy was the focus of the Making Sense of the 2016 Presidential Election workshop. In accepting the Hubert Humphrey Humanitarian Award, Vincent Alvarez, the president of the AFL-CIO New York City Central Labor Council, said, “Educators are essential in addressing the crises and challenges we face in organized labor and as a society.” Among the day’s other award-winners was NY 1 news anchor Cheryl Wills, who received the Rosa Parks Social Justice Award. 

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