I agree that it needs to be broken up to keep the students fully engaged in the learning of language. Language is a subject that can be dragged out and boring for students. Finding new ways to present infomation using technology, hand-ons, or interractive in some way will help keeping the unwanted distractions at bay.
Saw a brilliant show on TV the other night and I'm searching all over the place to see if there is a DVD. It was called the History of Lex, it would be great for middle school/high school kiddos. I'll stop back if I find out what channel it was on.
We do online book discussions using Moodle, there are ups and downs--I could share if you are interested. Have you seen that University professor's site. All her students do everything online. I think Steve might know who I'm talking about. I'll hunt around and see if I can find her links.
"Media" literacy is a huge topic - it would be helpful to know exactly what you mean. I teach English and Media Studies, so have a few tips and tricks you could try. Are you after film/television language, becoming savvy of media institutions, being literate in new media?
Advertising is always a good one for English and can be done in many creative ways depending on the tech available to you. TV advertising is good if you have the resources - this can begin with some learning about film language and its connotations/persuasive effects; I would then follow it up with an investigation into branding (this could be a company, like Nike or Mercedez, or a person, like David Beckham or Madonna). This can involve the kids exploring YouTube and Google Images and then collaboratively publishing their findings on a blog, wiki or using Google Docs/Zoho.
The kids are thereby enabled to try their own exercise in branding, working in groups to develop a brand for a fictitious company or celebrity through the various forms of advertising they have encountered. The classes that have I have tried this with have all loved it - from those with very low motivation to the "high fliers".
I don't know about "without distraction", though. I'm a great believer in going off-script and letting the kids' questions dictate where the lesson goes.
You may want to check out the New Media Literacies Project led by Henry Jenkins at MIT. They have a white paper that's worth reading called "Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century."
I'm interested in how new media can support traditional literacy as well. I write about this on my blog, Authorship 2.0, and I'd welcome any discussion about how we as teachers can help students develop media literacy and other literacies at the same time.