1.14 – Teaching the Media Triangle (English Lesson)

The Media Triangle is an important tool that students will use to discover the messages and meaning of any text. Rather than simply looking at what is literally presented in the text, students will assess what they know about the text, how the intended audience is targeted, and how the creator of the text impacts their understanding.

By looking at all three sides of the media triangle, and asking pointed questions, students will come to a rich understanding of their selected text.

This lesson plan will build upon resources previously published as part of the WhatBinder Introduction to the Media Triangle.

English Course Pack: Unit One – Literacy Skills

This assignment is part of the The Full English Course Park. This piece is part of Unit One: Literacy Skills, which focuses on creating a strong foundational understanding of literacy skills, PEE paragraph writing, and embedding quotations as textual support.


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1.14 – Teaching the Media Triangle

Step One: Confuse your Students with Marshall McLuhan

Slide 4 presents students with something that is near and dear to Canadians born between 1975 and 1990: Heritage Minute videos. Many of these videos have taken on a legendary status in the zeitgeist of those who came across them. Burnt toast, and peach baskets, are almost as important to our history as house hippos.

After playing the short clip, feel free to ask students what it meant. When they have no idea, let them know that it’s ok – because Marshall McLuhan wasn’t that aware at the time either. He developed his ideas later throughout his text.

Step Two: Provide a Stronger Understanding of Marshall McLuhan

Slide 5 includes a video that breaks down “The Medium is the Message” (or massage, as it is also known). Prior to watching the video ask students to take two point form notes about things that stood out to them.

The prediction of the internet, and its lasting impact often leads into a strong post-viewing discussion. After students have all explored the ideas, ensure that you direct the conversation to cover the idea that how an idea is presented is as important to what is being presented.

This understanding that there is more than what is literally displayed in the text scaffolds the knowledge required to understand the media triangle.

Step Three: Introducing the Media Triangle

It’s finally time to explain and explore the Media Triangle. As you walk through the animation on Slide 7, fully explain each of the different questions, and what the intent of the questions are.

A full understanding and explanation of each type can be found on the WhatBinder Introduction to the Media Triangle.

Once students have a full understanding, you are free to provide them with a copy of the Media Triangle Graphic Organizer.

Step Four: Using the Media Triangle

Slides 9 to 17 will walk students through the Media Triangle using a Kids Help Phone poster as the media text that is being investigated. Stop on each slide, and allow students to respond in their Graphic Organizer.

Once students have written their response, hold a quick class discussion, before moving on to the next slide.

Once all questions have been answered and discussed, students should try to determine the message and meaning of the text. One exemplar is provided on slide 18.

Step Five: Release Responsibility

Once students have fully demonstrated the ability to use the Media Triangle, you should instruct them to use it to write a PEE Paragraph exploring the messages and meanings of the RedTape advertisement on Slide 20.

Feel free to point out that, yes, this is a problematic advertisement prior to allowing students to work on their paragraph. They can be directed to work in small groups, or independently, as they fill out their graphic organizer. However, their paragraphs should be unique.

Step Six: Debriefing RedTape

You can explore slides 21 – 23 to debrief one possible interpretation of the text, and work through how all sides of the media triangle need to be represented in the final explanation.

By moving on to slide 25, you will also highlight how PEE paragraphs can actually be written as a series of paragraphs, with the first representing the Point, the second being the Evidence, and the third being the Evaluation.

This also highlights that paragraphs can be effective with different word counts.

By teaching strong paragraphing now, you will prepare students for multi-paragraph essays later on in the course.

The Impact

Providing students with tools for analysis will help them take their cross-curricular leaning into all of their classrooms. By looking at the source of information, they will begin to analyze bias in everything they encounter.

Additionally, students will have a full understanding of the importance of paragraphing their writing for clarity and audience engagement, while introducing the problematic nature of gender-normative representations.

Once students are aware of the media triangle, there are opportunity for walking field trips either, through school hallways, the local community, or beyond, to self-select and analyze texts.


English – Unit One: Literacy Skills


English Course Packs: Full Units

Unit One: Literacy Skills
Unit Two: Poetry (In Progress)
Unit Three: Literature Circles (In Progress)
Unit Four: Creative Writing & Choose Our Way Tales (In Progress)
Unit Five: Essay Writing (In Progress)
Unit Six: Culminating Tasks (In Progress)



Written by…

Michael Barltrop has been teaching since 2006, integrating comics, video games, and TTRPGs into his classroom. He has been the head of English, Literacy, and Universal Design. Feel free to reach out through Twitter @MrBarltrop!

Feel free to support the website hosting by buying him a coffee or sharing this post on facebook, twitter, or whatever social media is trending these days.

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