Common Sense

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Media-, News-, and Information-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, those that help them create media, and those that steer students toward factual 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

Impressive online collection of historic and cultural artifacts

Bottom line: This epic database of history and culture is a labor of love that all students can benefit from.

Hypothes.is

Browser extensions add 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.

National Archives 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.

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 sources.

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.

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

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.

Audacity

Free online music-maker also a lesson in open-source software quality

Bottom line: With tons of quality tutorials and help, this free recording site is a real treat for those who don't have access to the branded software.

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

News-O-Matic: School 2018-2019

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 mixes history and civics, teaches about journalism

Bottom line: An effective summary and introduction to the media; more exercises and tools to help budding young journalists would make the site even more noteworthy.

Youth Radio

A stellar take on the news from diverse kid journalists

Bottom line: An outstanding place to find fresh voices and NPR-quality content created by kids.

KQED Education

Great news and classroom resources support both teachers and students

Bottom line: With some organizational adjustments, the site could be an exceptional place for both kids and teachers to find educational inspiration.

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.

New York Times App

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.

Get tips for using these tools in the classroom

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