Mass Media and Gender at Trafalgar School for Girls

Digital Literacy Project facilitators Robin Kelly and Victoria Nam worked with students at Trafalgar School for Girls. They offered a gender theory and photoshop workshop at Trafalgar School for Girls which focussed on Mass Media and Gender.

The course was multimedia in every way possible.





All the support material for the class was available on a blog set up specifically and only for this group.

The group learnt various theoretical frameworks for unpacking gender constructs found in the world of advertising.

They also read and critiqued blogs about gender and advertising written by other young women and contributed their observations to the class blog by commenting on each other’s analysis.

After digesting many theoretical ideas and being exposed to new ways of looking at examples of advertising, each student chose a specific advertisement and used Photoshop to alter and transform the images. With the support of the facilitators, each student created an ‘open letter’ to the world of advertising. These ‘open letters’ formed imagery which critiqued the mainstream view of gender in mass media. Students wrote an artist statement explaining her work and describing the techniques used. Each statement was also posted on the blog.

The students then chose a specific advertisement and used Photoshop to alter and transform the images, with the support of the facilitators, each student created an ‘open letter’ to the world of advertising. These ‘open letters’ formed imagery which critiqued the mainstream view of gender in mass media.


At the end of the session, we printed all the pieces in poster format and each student presented her piece to the class.

Robin elaborates:

“The best part of this workshop is the big critique at the end, when we put all the posters up and talk about them. This is when we really see the students pull together everything they’ve learned and explain how they’ve used design to create their own message with their poster. This year I was blown away by the students receptiveness and their level of analysis. Even the students who weren’t so sure at first ended up producing some pretty interesting posters!”

An example of their work:

Student work

Bienvenue à NDG – Fall 2011

Bienvenue à NDG of the NDG Community Council came to the Atwater Library and Computer Centre this fall. We supported their job skills program by offering them a workshop on graphic design, social media strategy and conversational marketing.

Bienvenue à NDG is a job skills program which uses event planning as a way of bringing the participants together to work on a shared project.

Digital Literacy Project facilitator Sophie developed much their program based on the both the computer skills necessary to effectively  market an event and through evaluating the skill level of the participants.

We worked on graphic design, information design, basic computer skills and some social media. Colin and Celine from  a local web marketing shop stresslimit even came to present the basics of facebook and twitter.

On the last day, we made video which tells a bit more about how the DLP workshop went for the participants, as well as how our  workshops supported the Bienvenue à NDG program.


For more information about Bienvenue à NDG or the NDG Community Council, check out the links below:


Jeunes en Action – Video Documentary — Fall 2011

We collaborated with Jeune en Action at the Carrefour Jeunesse-emploi Notre-Dame de Grâce. We conducted a workshop for them to make a video documentary about their program of coaching young people entering the work force.


With Digital Literacy Project facilitator Victoria, we explored the basics of documentary film:

  • Types of documentaries
  • Responsibilities of media makers
  • Different types of shots and hands on techniques

We worked with the Jeunes en Action coordinators and participants to develop a standard series of questions that each participant would answer. Everyone had a chance to be interviewed or to do the interviewing. The participants also spent time collecting shots of the neighborhood and the Carrefour Jeunesse-emploi Notre-Dame de Grâce location to represent their experiences.

After all the shots had been collected, we changed locations and the participants did a series of video editing workshops here at the Atwater Library and Computer Centre.

Early in process, we realized that it would be great to repeat  this workshop again in the spring as the process of making the documentary was productive on many levels.

Victoria elaborates:

One of the aims of the Jeunes en Action program is to help its members discover personal and career goals, and also, to help them find the tools and resources in order to realise them.  Making a documentary about oneself mirrors the essential step of self-reflection required in this path of self-actualisation, and at the same time, we worked as a team, being energized and inspired in our collective efforts.  Turning the camera upon oneself, asking the hard questions, and then being able to reflect on one’s representation was an empowering experience for everyone involved.  It’s the kind of exploration that is critical, creative, and very rewarding.  At the final screening, everyone felt the sense of accomplishment needed to continue, while new members of the Jeunes en Action program felt the excitement of the next round.  The participants in NDG are all very talented, with their own unique voice and experience — I always feel very honoured in being able to work with them.

Following this, we thought it would be interesting see how the participants had changed while following the Jeunes en Action program.

In November, we screened Jeunes en Action – First Impressions at the Carrefour Jeunesse-emploi Notre-Dame de Grâce, and made a plan for how to tackle the next workshop. The Jeunes en Action participants are already collecting pictures and video in anticipation of our next session.

Mary from Jeunes en Action explains:

We highly value our partnership with the Atwater library, and we extend special thanks to Eric and Victoria for their collaboration on the CJE NDG documentary. This is the fourth Digital Literacy Project we’ve embarked on with our Jeunes en Action group, and it keeps getting better! Each time the youth learn new technical skills and develop their creativity, team spirit, sense of initiative and self-confidence. The digital literacy project consistently gets one of the highest rankings in our workshop evaluations. The participants certainly feel proud of their latest accomplishment, and they are excited about continuing the documentary next year. Those who did not yet have a chance to participate also look forward to adding their input and expressing their views on the CJE and on their neighborhood through more interviews, music and video shots.


Check back in the spring to see part two!


Check out these links if want to find about more about Jeunes en Action:

Get Green Fall 2011

The Digital Literacy Project supported the environmentally-minded “Get Green” at the Carrefour Jeunesse-emploi Notre-Dame de Grâce to help them learn how to record a song and make a video as part of their jobs skills program.

Facilitator Nina had originally planned to help the group learn how to make a video for a song Get Green Participants were going to record. However, in the end we helped them with both the song and the video and Digital Literacy Project Coordinator Eric helped out as a audio recording facilitator.

Kayla (a participant from Get Green) explains the relationship between the workshop and their program:

“Get Green is a program provided by Service Canada to teach youth ages 16 to 20 transferable skills through a series of workshops to be used to benefit their futures. One of these workshops being a song that the participants were going to write and record together at a studio to build teamwork and show them a possible career option for those interested in music. A few weeks after the group had started writing their song they found out that their music producer could no longer work with them…”

There were challenges to making the video and the song at the same time. During the video editing process, we had to find places in the library where we could record a verse or two — transforming offices or storage rooms into make shift recording studios. There was a constant dialogue about whether we were making a song for a video or a video for a song.

Nina explains:

“It was really interesting trying to make the video at the same time as the song was being written/produced. I think the biggest challenge was making sure we stayed focused on what we wanted to say, and staying true to the authentic thoughts and ideas of participants. It was great to see them working to make the song and the video from scratch, and I learnt a lot through out that process.”

In the end, the participants were happy with what they created and the experience supported the over all program of Get Green. Making the song from scratch was rewarding but took some time to get off the ground and required patience from everyone. We used Creative Commons beats and documentary clips and experimented with various audio processing. As for the words, the participants wrote about their experiences, their neighborhood and what success means to them. Working with music is great because everyone has personal way of relating to it.

Cecile (a participant from Get Green) elaborates:

I’m happy that we had a section in our program that we had to make a music video and a song it has helped me to be more out there with my talent and open up more as a way of expressing myself…

Katrina (coordinator of the Get Green project) notes:

“The partnership with Atwater Library was a really exciting one for us at Get Green. The creation of a video – from getting the shots, to choosing which to final editing – was a valuable learning process for the youth (and me)! Many of them had never worked with video before, and the editing equipment provided by Atwater was previously inaccessible to them. It was exciting to watch them use their creative outlets in an entirely new way. Also, the fact that Atwater was able to take over the song production at the last minute added a new element to the process. How would the video look in the end? We were lucky to have such dedicated facilitators who brought out the best in the youth. Thanks Nina and Eric! The youth were ultimately pleased with the video and proud of what they’d done. The Digital Literacy project is successful in that it makes digital knowledge and skills accessible to participants.”

Get Green screened their work at the graduation ceremony for their program at the CJE-NDG on December 15 2011.


For more information about Get Green:

Get Green is a pre-employability project for Anglophone youth (16-20) who have left the school system. This 17 week program aims to provide young people with social and professional skills through a variety of workshop: budgeting, employability, cooking and other lifeskills.  We also plan business and school visits so that youth have an idea of the options that are before.  We strive to support young people on their path to success.  The next Get Green project will begin in March 2011.  For further information please contact Despina Sourias at the Carrefour Jeunesse Emploi.  514 482 6665 ext 212 or