“News Matters” Unit Plan

Grades: 4-6

The News Literacy Project and TIME for Kids teamed up to create “News Matters,” a three-week unit plan intended for grades 3–6. Students begin by viewing and discussing a TikTok video created by the News Literacy Project that introduces the knowledge and skills students will explore throughout the unit. Then students proceed with a pre-assessment and introductory activities before heading into the lessons.

The core main lessons are:

  1. Distinguishing Fact from Opinion
  2. Zoning Information
  3. Recognizing Quality Journalism
  4. What Makes Something Newsworthy
  5. Learning the Lingo (journalism vocabulary review)

Each lesson builds foundational news literacy skills and provides opportunities for students to apply those skills through rich discussion prompts, collaborative group activities and challenging independent work.

The unit includes formative and summative assessments, such as a media scavenger hunt for students to demonstrate their understanding of the unit’s knowledge and skills goals and a “Stoplight Exit Ticket” that requires students to reflect on their own news consumption habits.

Like our Framework for Teaching News Literacy, this unit plan follows the three-stage, “backward design” process of Understanding by Design (UbD)®, a widely used curriculum design framework developed by Wiggins and McTighe. UbD focuses on building the conceptual understandings (the “big ideas”) associated with becoming news-literate and preparing students to apply their learning in authentic ways. UbD connects best practices in planning, teaching and assessing based on research in cognitive psychology and validated by studies on student achievement. It ensures educational value by offering time to teach and time to learn through deepened understanding with clearly articulated desired results.

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