How I Use It
I used the Checkology resources as part of a broader unit on media literacy and evolving uses of our technology. As an introduction to the topic I had my students take the Checkology Pre-Survey. While a little bit long and sometimes tedious for my 6th graders, this exercise helped the students see many of the related sub-topics and much of the terminology associated with media literacy. Basically, it helped them realize how much they don't know! Before the students first logged into the student accounts I set up for them, we had a discussion about choosing news sources and using clues to help us determine which sources are most trustworthy. I showed the class a TedEd video called "How to choose your news," and we also looked at images from a Stanford University study which concluded that most students don't know when news is real. With this background material, the students were prepared to engage with the Checkology curriculum. I don't think jumping right into it would have worked quite as well. Following the introduction to the self-directed activities, my 6th grade students enjoyed taking part in the lessons over the next couple of classes. Some were so interested, they continued outside of class as well! While my students are on the younger end of the target audience for the curriculum, I found that their sophisticated awareness of the news and news consumption allowed them to navigate the lessons comfortably. We didn't have time to make it through all of the modules in class- some seemed to take longer than others; however, I hope to continue this discussion in other ways throughout the rest of the year.
Overall, I thought that Checkology was a great tool for my students, and I would definitely use it in the future. The self-directed nature of the lessons was a big plus, as it addressed the need for differentiation, especially allowing those who were really interested to challenge themselves by pursuing the topic further. As far as the nature of the lessons, my students found some of the videos more engaging than others, but they all really enjoyed the interactive aspects. After getting started I realized that I had not devoted enough classes for the students to complete the entire curriculum, but I was pleasantly surprised when a number of students decided to continue on their own. For those considering using the curriculum, definitely give yourself plenty of time. I also suggest having the students end their work early each time so you can debrief as a large group. While this was sometimes tricky given the self-directed nature and the fact that students were in different spots, I think it is very important to give the students a chance to process what they are learning and share with others.