The term “fake news” has become part of our common vernacular, for better or for worse. Unfortunately, misinformation and disinformation are powerful tools – they can fracture relationships, spread untrue rumors, and even incite violence. Now more than ever, people need skills to discern what’s accurate, reliable and unbiased from what’s not. These skills have become especially crucial for students at all levels. But with so much already on their plates, how can educators ensure students are equipped with media literacy and critical thinking to navigate the fastest-paced news cycle society has seen to date?
The good news is that there are a number of steps you can take to hone students’ information literacy, as well as carefully created tools to help them in this pursuit. Below, you will find resource recommendations to aid you in strengthening media literacy in your classroom and ensure that your students are becoming the well-informed global citizens our world needs.
Media Literacy Resources Every Educator Needs
1. Fact-checkers. Familiarize yourself with reliable fact-checking tools and coach your students to do the same. When researching topics or current events, have students cross-check their findings using tools like Factcheck.org, Snopes, the Washington Post Fact-Checker, Politifact, and the News Literacy Project’s Viral Rumor Rundown, which reviews recent examples of mis- and disinformation and provides news literacy lessons and insights.
2. A long-term plan for teaching news literacy. Effective teaching starts with a clear vision for success. The same applies for teaching media literacy. Adopting a framework that emphasizes content credibility, exposure to different types of information, and fact-based journalism standards sets a strong foundation for classroom news literacy instruction. It also ensures that there is a plan for effectively integrating media literacy into existing curriculum. The Framework for Teaching News Literacy from the News Literacy Project (NLP) includes standards alignment, essential questions, clear objectives, and creative performance tasks, and on top of that, it’s free! Check out this introductory webinar from NLP to get started with this framework.
3. Professional development and continuous learning. The world is changing at a rapid pace and the 24-hour news cycle certainly continues to amplify anxiety and fear. In order to mitigate the barrage of misinformation, try adding media literacy professional development to your learning plan this school year. News Literacy Project has a free library of recorded webinars, covering a variety of topics.
4. Visuals. You can introduce and reinforce media literacy concepts without having to dedicate additional instructional time by displaying carefully selected media literacy visuals, posters, and infographics. Check out the NLP free educator resource library, search “infographics and posters,” and access dozens of high-quality visuals, like this one that spells out five steps for vetting a news source.
5. Local partners. Depending on availability, local news networks and their journalists could be open to supporting you and your students in developing news literacy skills. If possible, arrange interviews between students and journalists to get their take on the best ways to discern fact from fiction. You can often contact them via Twitter or LinkedIn. NLP’s Checkology®️ users are able to access their “Newsroom to Classroom” feature to forge these connections virtually or in person, with vetted NLP journalist volunteers across the country, quickly and authentically!
Start the Pursuit for Truth in Classrooms Today
If you are concerned about the misinformation crisis like so many others, including journalists themselves, it’s time to channel this concern productively. Partner with the News Literacy Project and access invaluable resources, training, and materials to strengthen your, and your students’ ability to discern fact from fiction. Sign up for News Literacy Project’s The Sift®️, a weekly newsletter for educators that covers the latest examples of misinformation and ideas for classroom discussion.