Media Literacy now required in Illinois High Schools


Miss Lingafelter, Librarian

The newly renovated Joliet West library boasts a variety of reading selections, including new titles purchased from a small business, Anderson’s Books. Photo courtesy of Ms. Lingafelter.

Haley Moffett, Staff Writer

A unit of study on Media Literacy is now required by law in all Illinois public high schools. Here at Joliet West, the librarians are in charge of implementing this new law into our ELA curriculum and have come up with detailed plans to meet each requirement.

There are 5 topics listed in this legislation that are mandatory, and each one has a detailed objective. The required lessons in Public Act 102-0055, in simple terms, are as follows: “(1) Accessing Information…(2) Analyzing and evaluating media messages…(3) Creating media…(4) Reflecting on media consumption…(5) Social responsibility and civics…” (Illinois General Assembly). 

The librarians, Mrs. Walsh and Miss Lingafelter, are of the opinion that a lot of the requirements are already being met without the new lessons they plan on adding. “With some of the Act requirements, like “Creating Media,” the lessons might be better served by curriculum areas outside of English, and in fact might already be being taught in certain electives.  The traditional research unit in English will allow for many of the requirements to be taught, but the Librarians are also interested in working with other content areas to achieve some of the goals,”(Lingafelter).


According to them, multiple classes already require students to demonstrate an understanding of media literacy.  “…Almost every student at Joliet West will demonstrate their understanding of media literacy during a research project in English class, but students are also accessing information online and in texts in history classes, science classes, and other elective classes…Whenever a student is finding information, analyzing that information, and using it in an assignment for class, they are demonstrating their understanding of media literacy”(Walsh).

When asked about whether the media literacy unit will be reserved for just 1 grade level or class, Miss Lingafelter had this to assert: “We would like to partner with teachers across content areas at all grade levels… Because all students take English for all four years of high school though, we do want to partner with the English teachers during their research units for the majority of the skills,”(Lingafelter). 

Overall, there are no big changes that have to be made to the Joliet West curriculum to accommodate the Media Literacy Act because most of the standards are already accommodated for. “While the librarians will focus on a few lessons of direct instruction to meet the act’s requirements, any time students access information, evaluate what they find, think critically about where the information came from, and use the information to create something new they are practicing media literacy skills,” (Walsh).