Civics Connection

Being a smart, engaged participant in civic life starts with becoming a critical consumer of news and information. In the Civics Connections blog, we share ideas, strategies and resources for integrating news literacy skills into civics-aligned curriculum to encourage greater civic engagement among students.


Curate a list of local journalists

ProPublica Illinois (@ProPublicaIL) regularly uses Twitter to answer questions about journalism. Recently a reader asked: “How do you go about finding those new ideas? Is it by brainstorming? Or following on tips?” Here’s the response from ProPublica journalist Jodi Cohen: “Reporters are always on the lookout for ways to inform the public about the world…

News literacy and conspiracy theories

Misinformation spreads rapidly on social media following natural disasters, mass shootings, terrorist attacks and other dramatic news events. In addition to seeing doctored photos and patently false “breaking news,” we’re also likely to be bombarded with conspiracy theories — another subset of misinformation. Since many of these involve alleged actions by the government, we need…

Civic engagement indicator No. 2: Understand all sides of the issues

Americans head to their polling places in less than two weeks — and in each election cycle, it’s becoming more and more difficult to make sure that we actually know what we need to know before casting our ballots. (Check out our “Double-Check Your Facts” PSA to see how people did on The Easiest Quiz…

Civic engagement in the 21st century

As civics education is increasingly part of the national conversation, and as school districts and state legislatures increasingly call for more of it, we need to have a good understanding of what civic engagement looks like for young people in the 21st century. How many civic actions from previous generations remain unchanged? How many have…

Evaluating unnamed sources in news stories

On Sept. 5, the New York Times editorial page editors took what they called “the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay.” The action raises an important issue in journalism and an opportunity to teach students about evaluating unnamed sources in the news. By “unnamed sources,” I am referring to the people who provide information…

Teachers, it’s time to embrace Wikipedia

Fact-checking is an essential skill that we need to teach students — and to reinforce as a habit for daily consumption of news and other information. Do a search on just about any topic, and there is a high likelihood that a Wikipedia article will come up in the initial results. You may find this…

Logical fallacies and discourse

In a previous post, I discussed holding controversial conversations about current events in the classroom. As an extension of that topic, I’m sharing some ideas and resources about a challenge common in public debate, commentary and social media: the use of logical fallacies. Just what are logical fallacies? The Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL,…

Understanding and evaluating endorsements

The 2018 midterm elections are only three months away — and as political candidates ask people for their support, they will often feature the endorsements they receive from editorial boards, political organizations, unions and even celebrities. These endorsements can be a useful resource as voters decide how to cast their ballots, and they are often…

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