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News Literacy Resources for Classrooms

A best-of-the-best collection of resources for teaching and learning about news literacy.

Tanner Higgin | January 10, 2020

News literacy is a subset of media literacy focused on helping people process and understand news media messages, to locate more factual and credible information, and to think critically about what counts as news. News literacy is also about recognizing that quality, credible, independent news and journalism are critical components of any free and democratic society. News and politics have been reshaped by social media and 24-hours news entertainment. As a result, there's a lot of crossover between what we think of as news literacy, media literacy, and digital citizenship. 

In this collection, you'll find hand-picked, regularly updated resources to help you better understand and practice news literacy. At the top, there are featured resources as well as more comprehensive curricula. Then you'll find lessons, videos, downloadables, and games organized by a few key topic areas, like fact-checking, breaking news, and the ethics of journalism.

Jump down to a section

News Literacy Courses and Curricula
Fact-Checking and Critical-Thinking Skills
Journalism and Journalistic Ethics
Breaking News, Media Manipulation, and Mis- and Disinformation
Finding and Using Credible, Authoritative, and Diverse Sources
Research on News and the Media
News Literacy Organizations to Explore for More

 

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News Literacy Courses and Curricula

The providers below offer more comprehensive resources for news literacy, from courses (from just a few hours to weeks) to a curriculum linked to a scope and sequence and standards.

  • Checkology (by the News Literacy Project): Free lessons focusing on fact-checking and journalistic skills, all hosted by experts. For more, check out our review.
  • Civic Online Reasoning (by the Stanford History Education Group): This research-based curriculum features foundational lessons and smart assessments for building students' critical thinking skills.
  • Digital Citizenship Curriculum (by Common Sense Education): Free K-12 lessons on news and media literacy.
  • Making Sense of the News: News Literacy Lessons for Digital Citizens (by the University of Hong Kong and Stony Brook University): A six-week, distance learning course hosted on Coursera. It's best suited to educators or advanced students looking for a challenge and to dig deeper into news literacy and journalism.
  • Navigating Digital Information (Crash Course): Excellent video series hosted by John Green and produced in partnership with MediaWise, the Poynter Institute, and the Stanford History Education Group.
  • NewsU (by the Poynter Institute): While a lot of these courses will cost you and are more directed at adults pursuing careers in journalism, there are a few free, shorter courses that could work well for K-12 educators and students. For instance, Hands-On Fact-Checking: A Short Course is a 90-minute, free intro to fact-checking.

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Fact-Checking and Critical-Thinking Skills

Journalists -- and the news literate -- should have an obsession with establishing, verifying, and reporting facts. This is an important focus, as the term "fake news" is tossed around with exhausting frequency, and misinformation and disinformation seem to fill our social media feeds. The resources below will help build this drive and respect for accuracy as well as the skills to separate fact from fiction and opinion.

Websites, articles, feeds, and newsletters

    • MediaWise YouTube channel (by MediaWise): MediaWise's YouTube channel features tons of fact-checking videos submitted by young people. 
    • The Sift (by the News Literacy Project): A weekly newsletter digest of trending stories and fact checks, focusing on viral memes and social media posts. Each newsletter also ends with tips on incorporating the content into classrooms. 
    • Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers (by Mike Caulfield): This ebook is a master class in a web-literate form of fact-checking that takes into account how the web and social media work and have changed information and authority for good.

    Lesson plans and activities

    • Analyzing How Words Communicate Bias (Teaching Tolerance): Get students to analyze the tone, word choice, and messaging of newscasts, paying particular attention to biased language.
    • Challenging Confirmation Bias (by Common Sense Education): Bias can cloud our critical thinking, so this lesson gets students recognizing their own biases and working with and against them.
    • Civic Online Reasoning (by the Stanford History Education Group): These resources make it easy to teach and assess students' fact-checking abilities when it comes to things like social media posts or videos and websites.
    • E.S.C.A.P.E. Junk News (by the Newseum): This lesson teaches students six ways to debunk bad info.
    • InfoZones (by the News Literacy Project): Learn and categorize six types or "zones" of information, from news to propaganda.

    Videos

    Handouts, infographics, and posters

    Games, apps, and tools

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    Journalism and Journalistic Ethics

    Free societies and people depend on the flow of trustworthy knowledge and information. Journalists and their ethical commitments are central to this process, and the news and media they create are how citizens learn about their world. The following resources help explain the role journalists play in politics, culture, and the media, perhaps inspiring future journalists or just citizens who value ethically committed reporting.

     

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    Websites, articles, feeds, and newsletters

      Lesson plans and activities

      • Democracy's Watchdog (by the News Literacy Project): Focusing on investigative reporting, this lesson shows students the way the press has been crucial to defending democracy. 
      • Real Fake News: Exploring Actual Examples of Newspaper Bias (by Common Sense Education): This video, discussion, and activity examine the history of newspapers covering up injustice and racism against Black people, and how this coverage fails the journalistic code of ethics.
      • Student Reporting Labs Curriculum (by PBS NewsHour): 10 project-based lessons focusing on journalism and media production.

      Videos

      • The 5 Core Values of Journalism (Ethical Journalism Network): Surprisingly, there are few other credible videos on this subject, so this one fills a major void.
      • How Journalists Minimize Bias (Facing History): This video helps explain the steps journalists take to take their bias out of reporting.
      • Verifying the Story (Facing History): Learn how journalists work to confirm facts in the midst of breaking news stories.

      Handouts, infographics, and posters

      Games, apps, and tools

      • NewsFeed Defenders (by iCivics and FactCheck.org): This game challenges you to manage a fictional news site's social media feed. For more, check out our review.
      • Practicing Quality Journalism (by the News Literacy Project): Sort of a hybrid game and lesson, this experience (available in both English and Spanish) has students play the role of a reporter and learn journalistic standards.

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      Breaking News, Media Manipulation, and Mis- and Disinformation

      The 24-hour news cycle, always-on and -around smartphones, and social media have changed what we think of when we think of news. It seems that every second some story is "BREAKING," and the result is a deluge of misinformation, disinformation, or something in between. These resources are aimed at understanding and navigating the cacophony of media manipulation surrounding news events.

      Websites, articles, feeds, and newsletters

        Lesson plans and activities

        Videos

        Handouts, infographics, and posters

        Games, apps, and tools

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        Finding and using credible, authoritative, and diverse sources

        Filter bubbles, echo chambers, and media silos: We all find ourselves in them to some extent. But being news literate means breaking out of these narrow viewpoints and exploring a variety of authoritative and credible sources and perspectives. Use these resources to properly equip your information toolbox, so you can stay up to date, fact-check and verify information, and form informed opinions on the things that matter to you.

        Websites, articles, feeds, and newsletters

          • The Cramm: This daily newsletter written by Hannah Seltzer, a teenager from Santa Barbara, California, is targeted at young people who want a "cheatsheet to the world." While the writing is very casual (and sometimes a bit flippant), each highlighted story links out to credible sources. It's a good resource to share with young people who want to stay clued in but find that traditional news sources don't speak in their voices.
          • Most Reliable and Credible Sources for Students (by Common Sense Education): Check out our list of websites and resources students can depend on for well-vetted information.
          • Newsela: A best-in-class source for current news as well as various non-fiction texts. The content is gathered from trustworthy sources and then broken down into five reading levels and translated into Spanish for easy differentiation. For more, check out our review.
          • TIME for Kids: A high-quality, kid-friendly news source with stories both serious and fun. For more, check out our review.

          Lesson plans and activities

          • Choosing Reliable Sources, Evaluating Reliable Sources, and Evaluating Online Sources (by Teaching Tolerance): These three lessons for grades K-2, 3-5, and 9-12 respectively provide students with age-specific activities and key questions students should ask to discern the trustworthiness and veracity of news and media sources.
          • Filter Bubble Trouble (by Common Sense Education): This lesson gives students strategies for exploring diverse perspectives and challenging their own ideas.
          • Finding Credible News (by Common Sense Education): An all-around lesson for middle school, focusing on the basic skills for separating real from fake when it comes to news stories.
          • Reading News Online (by Common Sense Education): A good starting point for younger kids, since this lesson teaches them about key elements to look for on a news page to verify that it's legit.

          Videos

          • Google Search Tricks for Research (by Common Sense Education): This hands-on tutorial shows a few key "search operators" you can use to get better, more refined results on Google.
          • How to Pop Our Filter Bubbles (by TED): A collection of TED-produced videos focuses on diversifying sources and stepping outside algorithmically and culturally enforced echo chambers.
          • Navigating Digital Information (by Crash Course): This 11-video playlist -- developed with experts and researchers -- is an awesome primer on how to find and evaluate sources on the web and social media.
          • Reading News Online (by Common Sense Education): A short video aimed at younger kids, letting them know some critical-thinking pointers for consuming news.

          Handouts, infographics, and posters

          Games, apps, and tools

          • Hypothes.is (by the Hypothesis Project): This annotation tool makes all websites discussable, adding a layer of thoughtful critique to the web. For more, check out our review.
          • Research and Citation Tools for Students (by Common Sense Education): This is a handy list of tools students can use to find sources -- especially primary sources -- and to cite them effectively.
          • Zotero (by the Corporation for Digital Scholarship): Zotero along with ZoteroBib are excellent tools to gather sources, take notes on them, and cite them. For more, check out our review.

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          Research on News and the Media

          Below you'll find some researchers and research organizations that focus on news literacy. We've also highlighted a few key pieces of their work.

          News Literacy Organizations to Explore for More