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The Media Straight Up! Media Literacy Guide for Middle School

Engage learners in exploring substance abuse prevention using the pedagogy of media literacy


Created by Renee Hobbs and the Media Education Lab and co-sponsored by Drug Free Pennsylvania. Access the PDF from the Pennsylvania Department of Drug Prevention Programs. 

Renee Hobbs and a team of Pennsylvania educators developed The Media Straight Up to bring together literacy and substance abuse prevention goals for middle-school students. The curriculum meets PA standards for health and English language arts. 


According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a media literacy approach can support substance abuse prevention goals. Media literacy can empower youth to be positive forces of social change, which benefits drug prevention efforts by teaching youth:


  • To recognize how media messages influence them. Students can internalize the skills they need to protect themselves against messages about drugs or unhealthy lifestyle choices.
  • To develop critical thinking. When youth learn to analyze media, they can uncover the values messages about drugs embedded in media and decide whether to accept or reject those messages.
  • To foster healthy self-esteem. Students skilled and knowledgeable about the media and their techniques can use media to creatively produce messages of their own. Encouraging healthy self-esteem is one of the “anti-drugs” that reduce children’s vulnerability to drug use.