Common Sense

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Best News- and Media-Literacy Resources for Students

After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the world seems to be waking up to what educators have known for a long time: Media literacy matters, especially as it relates to the news, social media, and the web. While the definition and specific skills of media literacy (as well as its companions, news literacy and information literacy) evolve with the media and technology landscape, the core objectives remain: that through media literacy, students learn to find, consume, and create media critically and develop a mindfulness about how media is made, by whom it is made, and for what purposes it is made. There are a lot of tools out there to help students build and practice these essential skills, and on this list we feature some of the best we've found. You'll find great apps and websites broken down into three core categories: those that help students evaluate media (and think critically about "fake news"), those that help them create media, and those that steer students toward credible sources.

For more, make sure to check out our News and Media Literacy Toolkit.

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Help Students Critically Evaluate Media

Critical Media Project

Relevant media clips get students examining identity, culture

Bottom line: Teachers will need to take time to build effective lessons, but if they do, this is a useful, relevant, high-interest resource for deconstructing identity and building critical thinking and empathy skills.

ThinkCERCA

Well-structured lessons encourage deep analysis, thoughtful writing

Bottom line: This is a ready-to-go, research-backed resource that focuses intently on CCSS-aligned and AP-level critical reading and writing skills.

Digital Public Library of America

Organized digital library features piles of useful primary resources

Bottom line: DPLA is at the top of the list of high-grade, online primary source collections if teachers make effective use of what's on offer.

Hypothes.is

Browser extension adds layer of annotation and discussion to the web

Bottom line: Free, user-friendly tool opens up the web to in-context annotation and discussion.

Knowhere

News site aims to remove, expose political bias with mixed success

Bottom line: This site can make it easier to show students how news gets interpreted from multiple viewpoints, but teachers should encourage students to think critically about Knowhere itself.

DocsTeach

Historical texts, interactive activities can promote critical thinking

Bottom line: This text-rich app encourages students to conduct their own analysis of history, but the formats and graphics may prevent them from making a thorough analysis.

NewsFeed Defenders

Social media simulation builds news literacy skills

Bottom line: This is a great tool to kick off critical discussions about news and social media.

Bad News

Modern, minimalist fake news game has players be the bad guys

Bottom line: Quick, fun, and to-the-point, this game gets at the social mechanics behind viral falsehoods.

Checkology® virtual classroom

Go-to news-literacy site is an excellent primer on media issues

Bottom line: With "fake news" a pressing concern, Checkology's literacy lessons offer essential, if not totally comprehensive, skills to help students evaluate sourcesC

Genius

Collaborative tool lets users annotate songs, literature, web content

Bottom line: Students can collaboratively engage in the process of annotation and analysis with various texts -- both within the forum and on the web.

PolitiFact

Independent website fact-checks political statements

Bottom line: A tool to help students become independent thinkers and question what is said by those in positions of power.

The Republia Times

Unassuming editorial sim elegantly exposes the business of bias

Bottom line: What this game lacks in pizzazz it makes up for in smarts, and it's certain to get students thinking and talking about bias and media politics.

Truth or Fiction?

Foil fake news and viral rumors with fact-checking site

Bottom line: This can be a handy reference -- and a good model for critical thinking -- but it'll require some teacher scaffolding and guidance.

Give Students a Voice Through Media Remix and Creation

Edpuzzle

Crop, customize, and remix online video content with interactive tool

Bottom line: As a flipped classroom or student creation tool, there are lots of opportunities for use, but teachers will need to be creative if they want students to engage.

Explain Everything Whiteboard

Powerhouse tool for creating stellar multimedia presentations

Bottom line: Teachers and students can make dynamic presentations that involve different types of media in this innovative, fun app.

Mozilla X-Ray Goggles

Remix tool reveals code, can strengthen kids' understanding of the web

Bottom line: It's a blast to use and an easy way to get experimentation and prototyping going with plenty of student choice -- kids are really in the driver's seat!

Skitch - Snap. Mark Up. Send.

Add a hint of fun to note-taking or annotating images

Bottom line: It's easy to annotate images and screenshots, take handwritten notes, and organize it all with Evernote.

MediaBreaker/Studios

Free video-remix tool boosts media literacy, presents some challenges

Bottom line: It's not without its challenges for teachers, but at its core MediaBreaker is an easy-to-use and free tool for teaching critical media-making and literacy.

Vidcode

Cool coding tool tuned to teen girls' passions aids creativity

Bottom line: Learn-to-code programs for youths often too narrowly define what can be done with code; Vidcode expands the options, helping girls see code's value in culture and express themselves.

Build Students' News Literacy With Trustworthy Sources

NBC Learn

Vast video site offers current, historical content

Bottom line: This is a great source for video-based news, thanks to the huge archive, current events coverage, and teacher-friendly extra links to Newsela articles.

News-O-Matic EDU

Flexible, interactive daily stories for elementary school students

Bottom line: Engaging, high-quality news stories help students learn about the world.

News-2-You

Draw kids into weekly news with powerful symbols and voice narration

Bottom line: Students can expand literacy skills, learn about the world, and get involved with discussion questions and activities.

Newsela

Absorbing daily news stories offer kids just-right learning content

Bottom line: Up-to-date, high-interest articles meet students right at their level: Use this robust tool to bolster students' nonfiction reading practice.

Newseum

Media museum's site offers timely resources mixing history and civics

Bottom line: Filled with primary sources, daily content, and lesson plans, this is a valuable site teaching news and media literacy, especially the value of a free and independent press.

The Learning Network

Process current events through engaging NYT-style lens

Bottom line: From a trusted news organization with its finger on the pulse of the world, this free resource can be a reliable source of activities and ideas for current event discussions.

NPR News

Top-notch digital content takes students beyond the airwaves

Bottom line: Provides an easy, fun, and effective way to engage students with radio.

The New York Times

Easy access to news, but most content is available only to subscribers

Bottom line: Provides an easy-to-use news resource, but only section front pages are accessible without a subscription.

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