New STEM-Aligned Lessons Released on Checkology®

Educators asked, and we’ve answered! In response to requests for STEM-aligned lessons on Checkology®️, the News Literacy Project’s free, browser-based virtual classroom, we’ve added a trio of new lessons: “Evaluating Science-Based Claims,” “Be Health Informed” and “Making Sense of Data.”

These lessons support students’ understanding of science and math principles, such as evaluating methods and evidence. They also incorporate real-world issues such as climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines, medical and scientific misinformation, pseudoscience and conspiratorial thinking.

Educators in the sciences, mathematics and social studies will find these new lessons particularly useful for drawing connections to current events and information students encounter online. The lessons also make valuable additions to subjects such as journalism and history, providing or enhancing foundational understandings of science and data literacy.

Learn more about each of the lessons below.

“Evaluating Science-Based Claims” boosts students’ science literacy 

Evaluating science-based claims

Scientific findings have shaped our entire world, from our methods of transportation to how we communicate with one another. Most people don’t question the science behind everyday conveniences such as cars and cell phones, but topics such as climate change – which can disrupt our worldview and previous beliefs – can lead some to question the validity of science, regardless of the evidence and scientific consensus. In addition, some people use pseudoscience to support beliefs that have no scientific accuracy.

“Evaluating Science-Based Claims” teaches students how to evaluate science-based claims using an easy acronym, FLOATER (Falsifiability, Logic, Objectivity, Alternative explanations, Tentative conclusions, Evidence and Replicability), developed by the lesson’s host, Melanie Trecek-King. Trecek-King is a scientist and a teacher at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, Massachusetts. She advocates for science literacy on her website, thinkingispower.com.

“Be Health Informed” empowers students to evaluate health and wellness information 

Be health informed

We make decisions about our health and well-being all the time – from how much we sleep to which treatments we seek out when we get sick. The stakes couldn’t be higher where our health is concerned. The new Checkology lesson “Be Health Informed” teaches students how to spot health misinformation and discern which sources are credible and based on quality evidence, so they can avoid being misled.

Students learn to watch out for red flags when encountering misinformation. They also get a glimpse into why certain groups are vulnerable to health misinformation.

“Be Health Informed” is hosted by Dr. Melissa Clarke, the former assistant dean of the Howard University College of Medicine and CEO of the Be Health Empowered Group.

“Making Sense of Data” teaches students to be data savvy

Making sense of data

Data is all around us, whether we know it or not. When we pick up our phones, “like” something on social media or do a simple internet search, we are generating and being influenced by data.

In “Making Sense of Data,” students learn how to better understand and analyze the accuracy and credibility of data. Students discover how credible data is produced, why no data is objective or infallible, and what makes some data more valid than others. They also learn to recognize and avoid common pitfalls in how data is interpreted and visualized.

The lesson is hosted by Sisi Wei, a data journalist and the editor-in-chief of the nonprofit newsroom The Markup. Previously, she was the co-executive founder of OpenNews.

NLP’s new STEM-aligned lessons on Checkology were created with the generous support of our funders. Additional funding was provided by The Science Literacy Foundation and Smart Family Fund. 

Free educator event!

Explore all three new lessons in an educator webinar, “STEM-aligned media and news literacy lessons for your classroom,” on Wednesday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. Melanie Trecek-King (host of “Evaluating Science-Based Claims”) and News Literacy Project staff will introduce the lessons and share how you can use them with your students. Register now.

Hometown Headlines contest winner covers pandemic from student perspective

Headshot of Willa Earnest BlumFor Los Angeles middle school student Willa Earnest-Blum, the jarring re-entry into the social landscape of in-person classes after pandemic restrictions ended inspired an idea that led to a news story.

A student at Girls Academic Leadership Academy in Los Angeles, Willa pitched her story idea about the difficult adjustment to the News Literacy Project’s first Hometown Headlines contest. To enter, students submitted a news story idea to NLP staff, who chose the best pitch to develop into an article.

Willa’s journalism teacher Jessica Valera encouraged her to enter the contest after she finished her Checkology® virtual classroom lessons ahead of schedule.

Her experiences at her school gave her the idea for the story, as she and her classmates were finding ordinary in-person interactions awkward. “It just came to mind,” she said. “I feel like it’s really evident right now at my school. My experiences day to day made me think of it.”

Yet, she and her friends didn’t talk about the issue, which made her recognize the need to tell the story. “It made it more important to me.”

She wrote:

 Teachers and students started questioning how a return to normal, in-person classroom settings — where one is seen constantly — has impacted those who for so long adapted to logging onto class from the comfort of home. 

Students were once behind a screen, free of other people’s eyes. Now every little mistake was amplified by being front and center.

Her mom, Rebecca Baron, said she didn’t even know Willa had entered the contest until Valera called to say she had won. “She really did it on her own. She was very independent in doing this, and I am really excited for her.”

Importance of multiple perspectives

Willa, 12, interviewed her teacher, a classmate and the school counselor. “I felt like it was important to cover all the bases of different perspectives. It taught me a lot talking to my counselor and my teacher and my classmate because I got to see their perspectives, which was sometimes different from mine.”

With the help of NLP staff —  Katie Aberbach, education marketing manager, and Kim Bowman, senior associate of user success — Willa created a Google Doc to organize her reporting, complete with checklists, names of sources and the information they provided. Aberbach then helped connect Willa with local reporter Brandon Pho, a journalist at Voice of OC in California  and a Report for America fellow. He helped Willa develop the story during a series of virtual meetings.

Her thoroughness immediately impressed Pho. “She organized her reporting better than I organize my notes out in the field,” Pho said. “We would go to that document and ask, ‘What is this story about? What are the voices? What do they have to say?’”

He asked her what stood out to her as the most interesting piece of information in her notes, and this sparked Willa’s idea for story’s opening:

Nearly 700 kids at Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA) are a window into an issue affecting nearly 50 million public school students nationwide.

“That lede was entirely her idea,” Pho said, referring to the opening paragraph of a news story intended to entice the reader.

Connecting with the reader

Willa said Pho helped her find the heart of her story. “He really taught me how to take a small quote and something I thought would not be important and to give it a longer, deeper perspective.”

In working with him, Willa began to better understood her own feelings about the issue and was able to translate this into something the reader could connect to. And sometimes, she learned, this means leaving things out. “We talked about things that could take away from the overall message. You don’t need to say it all,” she noted.

Pho said he found the experience rewarding and gained insights into his work as he considered the basic concepts of journalism and shared them with Willa. In the end, he thought Willa’s article was a strong piece of journalism.

“As long as she has a story to tell, it doesn’t matter that she was a sixth grader. It wasn’t a good news story, it was a great news story,” he said.

The Voice of OC wrote about Brandon’s role as a mentor to Willa and published her piece.

Educator instills appreciation for journalists who confront press freedom limits

For Kristin Larson’s journalism students, studying press freedom is more than an academic exercise. She acquaints them with journalists who have put themselves at risk to reveal important information that people in power would prefer to remain hidden.

Larson, an English teacher at South Windsor High School in South Windsor, Connecticut, uses NLP’s Checkology® virtual classroom lesson “Press Freedoms Around the World” as a foundation.

They also watch Palestinian photojournalist Eman Mohammed’s TED Talk, “The courage to tell a hidden story,” and analyze one of her images: a photograph of Palestinian photographer Faiz Moemen, who lost his legs during an airstrike. He sits in a chair holding a camera, while a wheelchair with a camera on the seat is next to him.

Exploring press freedom limits

With this unflinching introduction, Larson’s class of ninth to 12th graders begins to understand the courage needed to tell the truth when others might not want it to be told and the impact of such work.

“I want them to learn the risks of finding the hidden story and the risks of telling it,” Larson said.

Her students then choose a leading international journalist as their focus for a class presentation. They research the person’s education, experience and important work, and compile quotes and video clips.

A student in Kristin Larson’s journalism class gives a presentation about British journalist Katie Adie. The South Windsor, Connecticut, students were studying world press freedom. Photo by Kristin Larson

Larson ranks the presentations based on the degree of press freedoms in that journalist’s country, starting with the greatest freedoms and ending with the least. She bases her determinations on the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) annual World Press Freedom Index, which the students learn about in the Checkology lesson.

Last week’s presentations included journalists from Ireland and the United Kingdom, with greater freedoms, and Sudan, Saudi Arabia, China, North Korea, Venezuela and Russia, with lesser freedoms. The timing of the assignment is ideal. World Press Freedom Day is May 3.

Students use a section of the Checkology press freedoms lesson that describes the basis for a nation’s press rankings — whether journalists and news outlets have legal protections, who owns media companies, etc. They then answer questions based on what they learned from one another’s research.

And as a warmup, Larson asks her class where they think the United States ranks. “They all picked the U.S. as first in the rankings. They were really surprised” to learn it ranks in 44th place in the 2021 index.

Practicing journalists

By the end of the semester, her students gain life skills like critical thinking and a better understanding of how the world works and their place is in it. But they also practice those skills from the start.

Soon after class begins, they write for the school’s news site, The Bobcat Prowl (Larson is the adviser), or collaborate with the broadcast news class to develop a story for the school’s news channel, Bobcat News. The students also write for the yearbook. And she trains a few students as editors who help prepare their classmates’ work for publication.

Larson likes teaching this elective course because her students can pursue stories that interest them and have the room needed to reflect on what they learn. “They feel hope in our future because they know there are journalists searching to give the unbiased truth. It teaches them to read with an open mind, to spot bias,” she said.

And what they decide to cover is entirely up to them. “They can write whatever they want,” she said.

That means students sometimes turn their attention to events and issues beyond school grounds. For example, student Samantha Deras recently wrote about the role of women in Ukraine.

Larson began teaching journalism during the first months of the pandemic and discovered Checkology in late 2020, when she and the school’s library media specialist attended a virtual NewsLitCamp® — one of NLP’s professional learning events. “It was so good. They showed us Checkology, and since then we’ve been using it,” she said. “We were very inspired.”

Through her impactful, hands-on approach to teaching journalism, she’s inspired her students to understand press freedom on a deeper level as well.

NLP introduces “Power in Art,” a new lesson on editorial cartooning

Editorial cartoonists are known for their masterful, often trenchant use of images and text to express opinions or provide critique. Sometimes their work even propels national conversation or social change.

Now, students have a chance to explore the formidable history and impact of editorial cartoonists through a new, comprehensive Checkology® lesson, “Power in Art: The Watchdog Role of Editorial Cartoonists.” The lesson is included with the News Literacy Project’s free Checkology virtual classroom and is currently available to all educators. (You can preview the lesson here. To assign this to students, log in to or register for Checkology.)

“Editorial cartooning is a fascinating, complex form of opinion journalism, and we are very excited to incorporate this lesson into Checkology,” said Peter Adams, NLP’s senior vice president of education. “Guided by our subject matter expert, the award-winning editorial cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz, students trace the role of editorial cartooning through history and gain valuable skills for analyzing and interpreting these powerful drawings, as well as other modern forms of graphic expression. With its international, multidisciplinary scope, this lesson would make a great addition to many course curricula, including social studies, history, journalism, media studies and art.”

The lesson provides an in-depth look at how the work of editorial cartoonists has held those in power accountable, as well as the characteristics and challenges of this important form of opinion journalism. Students analyze cartoons from around the world, with iconic examples from Benjamin Franklin, Charles Philipon, José Guadalupe Posada and others. The lesson also invites students to compare editorial cartoons with modern forms of graphic political expression, including memes.

Alcaraz, whose work has appeared in newspapers across the United States, Mexico and around the world, and the winner of the 2022 Herblock Prize for editorial cartooning, hosts the lesson.

Learning objectives of “Power in Art” include:

  • Identifying the primary elements of an editorial cartoon and how they work together to express an opinion.
  • Summarizing how editorial cartoons have held people in power accountable.
  • Distinguishing between functional and harmful representations of groups in political cartoons.
  • Analyzing and interpreting an editorial cartoon, including identifying opinion versus observation.
  • Being able to describe why diverse voices and perspectives matter in editorial cartooning.
  • Being able to explain how modern forms of graphic political expression compare with editorial cartoons.

“Power in Art” is the 15th lesson in NLP’s browser-based platform, which teaches students how to navigate the digital landscape by developing news literacy knowledge, skills and habits of mind.

This lesson was made possible with support from The Herb Block Foundation and the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC).

 

Students empowered to push back against social media algorithms

While teenagers might annoy adults by questioning everything around them, their pushback can be a good thing. This is especially true when young people have the skills and abilities to make informed judgments. Educators who use the NLP’s Checkology® e-learning platform see this when students challenge social media algorithms that skew their view of the world.

“Just being aware of online personalization gives them some power to resist,” educator Mary Kate Lonergan said. She teaches eighth grade social studies at Eagle Hill Middle School in Manlius, New York.

Lonergan uses a variety of resources to give students a strong foundation in news literacy. They can then apply what they’ve learned when researching a controversial issue during a cross-curricular social studies/ELA project. The students soon discover how algorithms determine what content they see. Middle school students understand that their TikTok feed looks different from a classmate’s feed, based on the ads they click or topics they search, she said. However, they are surprised at how fast algorithms can send them deeper into a rabbit hole, narrowing their view. “They don’t have the concepts to identify what’s happening.”

Illustrating pitfalls of algorithms

Lonergan’s students demonstrated their grasp of the topic by creating memes that addressed the pitfalls of algorithms. Using humor, well-known people and animated characters, they conveyed the insidiousness of personalized ads, online privacy issues and filter bubbles.

“Creating media is an important piece of news literacy. It demystifies the process, and they can see that intentional choices are being made — content has a purpose,” Lonergan said. “If you understand how this works, you can’t be taken advantage of.”

Her students reflected on their discoveries:

  • “Whenever I am on social media I can identify when I have fallen into rabbit holes and be able to stop myself from getting sucked in too much.”
  • “This project opened me up to making sure that I use social media for its benefits, so that it can help make me — not break me.”
  • “What’s important to know is that echo chambers that you find yourself in can be good on one side and bad on the other, and companies profit off of that.”

How algorithms and technology impact our lives

Similar discoveries are taking place nearly 1,000 miles away in Kerise Broome’s 10th grade English honors class at James Island Charter High School in Charleston, South Carolina. Her students start the year by  studying the role of technology in their lives. “I truly feel that we’ve got to make up some ground where technology evolved too quickly, and we weren’t teaching news literacy as part of our standard curriculum,” she said.

She challenges her students to write essays that address the following questions: In what ways do you see that technology is outpacing our ability to control it and presenting us with threats to our existence? What can we do to solve these problems?

“The overwhelming majority of them are looking at online personalization the way most adults are looking at it,” she said. “They feel like victims and that they are the product. They don’t like that idea at all.”

‘They do understand what the dangers are’

To give them the content knowledge needed to answer those tough questions, Broome uses a combination of resources and methods. This includes the Checkology lessons “InfoZones,” “Misinformation” and “Understanding Algorithms,” the documentary film The Social Dilemma, and peer-to-peer class discussions. “A lot of the information was surprising to them, but they do understand what the dangers are,” Broome said.

The essays were excellent, she said, because of the students’ knowledge, interest in and engagement with the topic. They also shared thoughts on how to address the challenge of navigating the information landscape.

Some of their insights:

  • “Checking multiple trusted websites instead of using social media as our main source of information is a way we can help solve the problem of receiving incorrect information about important topics we should be correctly educated on.”
  • “Social media has implemented a special way to take and keep our attention, by using our interests and goals and showcasing them in our personalized feeds.”
  • “The best thing you could do in order not to get caught up [in conspiracy theories] is to [do] your research! Fact check! If you see something on social media that you know or think is fake, don’t repost it.”

Lessons resonate

Broome has seen how teens value the skills and insight that becoming news-literate brings. “It just really echoed some of the things they have seen. It’s the most relevant thing I teach all year long,” she said.

Lonergan weaves news literacy into her curriculum throughout the year and believes it’s never too early to start. “Middle schoolers are ready for these conversations and want to talk about it,” she said. “News literacy is the vehicle through which we engage in the content. It’s not another thing to teach; it’s another way to teach.”

Cheeseburger, hockey game help students understand information ecosystem

We often use metaphors to describe the world of information that engulfs us — a landscape, a highway, an ecosystem. What about a cheeseburger, a hockey team, a solar system or a hibachi restaurant?

Those are among the “ecosystems” that seventh graders in Kenilworth, Illinois, chose as metaphors to describe major categories of information. Their work was part of a media literacy component in Jeff Rosen’s social studies class at the Joseph Sears School.

He uses NLP’s Checkology® lessons “InfoZones” and “Misinformation” to provide foundational news literacy concepts. Rosen asks students to reflect on their information habits and connect what they’ve learned to their lives.

“The purpose of the assignment is to challenge students to apply their understanding of the ‘InfoZones’ to a new context: selecting a system and its parts to represent the zones,” Rosen said. Those six categories are news, opinion, advertising, entertainment, raw information and misinformation. “By critically thinking about the ‘InfoZones’ in this way, students will be able to remember and understand them at a much deeper cognitive level.”

That’s where the cheeseburger, solar system and other analogies plucked from the students’ daily lives factor in.

Last year, Rosen asked students to create posters and write about what they learned, and he shared that work with NLP. This year he asked them to make videos for the Microsoft education platform Flipgrid. “The video component allows students to practice verbalizing their thoughts. It also increases student engagement by connecting the curriculum to something they do and see all the time in their lives outside of school,” Rosen explained.

‘InfoZones’ ecosystems

Consider the examples from the videos below.

  • The supply cart represents raw information in Noa Boeing’s hibachi restaurant ecosystem. “The supply cart holds all the necessary ingredients for a successful hibachi restaurant. The ingredients and supplies in the cart are unchanged until the chef decides to use them.”
  • Winston Ottsen selected the coach to illustrate the opinion zone in his hockey game ecosystem. “This symbol represents the InfoZone opinion because different coaches have different opinions on how to run the team, just like how opinion writers have different opinions on other topics.”
  • For Emily McMahon, a visit to the snack bar describes the purpose of advertising in her basketball game ecosystem. “During halftime people usually go to get snacks, and when you go to get snacks, they try to sell you other stuff than what you want.”
  • Whatever their systems, the students show a clear grasp of all zones and understand the dangers of misinformation. Sierra Jones’ solar system provides a powerful example. “My symbol for misinformation is a black hole. A black hole messes up the universe, and misinformation can mess up much more.” And Douw O’Kelly’s cheeseburger-based description of misinformation works by appealing to the senses. “The symbol I chose for misinformation is the onions, as it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. It also makes your eyes watery and your nose runny, the same way misinformation leaves a bad taste and gives you a blurry vision of the world around us.”

Watch a video compilation of all student work here. You can find topics inspired by Rosen’s “InfoZones” project on NLP’s Flipgrid partner page. Just pick a topic like “Zone experiment” or “Information ecosystems”

Accomplishing the learning objective

Combining Checkology lessons with the creativity of designing posters and making videos kept Rosen’s class highly engaged. “They connected the material to their own lives, realizing how much time they spend clicking on and seeing so much information every single day,” he said. “They also enjoyed merging the digital world of Flipgrid with creating a more traditional poster board with their hands.”

Students also gained insights into their own information consumption habits as they tracked their “InfoZones” usage. “They were genuinely surprised by how much entertainment they were viewing every day. And many of them acknowledged that they should spend more time on other ‘InfoZones,’ like news,” Rosen noted.

He said this project provides a multifaceted and meaningful way for students to grasp the topic. “I want my students to be able to distinguish the types of information they see, read, and scroll through every day, and this assignment is a tool to accomplish that objective.”

Science literacy tackles the element of misinformation in the news

The periodic table of elements provides a systematic structure that can be used to predict the properties of elements, including the ability to form compounds and drive chemical reactions. It brings organization and reliability to the chemical landscape.

Unfortunately, there is no periodic table of information. That leaves us with an information landscape that is anything but organized, with an abundance of misinformation — the element that can spark harmful reactions, and actions.

headshot of uriah albrinkChemistry teacher Uriah Albrink witnessed this in his classroom last year when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and related misinformation flooded our newsfeeds. Students were misled by false claims, hoaxes and conspiracy theories spread by people and organizations that were far from credible. He knew he had to do something about it.

“With the amount of misinformation being thrown around, I felt it was my responsibility to make them better consumers of information,” said Albrink, who teaches at Mason County High School in Maysville, Kentucky. “We were getting this mindset of polarization [that] science isn’t real. That was a big red flag.”

Engaging students during remote learning

Like schools all over the country, Mason County High closed when the pandemic hit. Albrink needed to find resources that would engage his students and allow them to work independently in a virtual learning environment. He found what he needed in Checkology®, the News Literacy Project’s e-learning platform, and The Sift®, its weekly newsletter for educators.

“This seemed right up my alley, a way to teach good research skills and methodology,” said. Albrink, an educator with 17 years of experience who teaches mainly juniors and sophomores. “I felt it was important.”

Albrink used items featured in The Sift’s Viral Rumor Rundown to teach his students how to avoid being fooled by popular memes and provocative posts. “We’d do reverse image searches, talk through how to spot fake accounts on social media, and to take it all with a grain of salt,” he said.

Using real-life examples to teach foundational concepts of science literacy captured his students’ attention — and surprised them. “They’re just kind of amazed at how much falsehood is out there floating around.”

Making connections with science literacy

Albrink used the Checkology lesson “InfoZones” to help his students get a better grasp of the types of content they were seeing. Students learned how to differentiate among types of information — news, opinion, advertising, entertainment, propaganda and raw information. They tested their skills with examples in Checkology’s interactive Check Center and then independently applied the concepts they learned to news articles, judging credibility and putting information in context.

Their exploration of mask-related myths provided Albrink with an opportunity to connect the news directly to chemistry lessons. He taught them about the size of molecules and how being able to smell odors while wearing a mask does not mean masks are ineffective. These teachable moments from current events resonated. “It’s affecting their lives directly. Otherwise, if they can’t make a connection, it’s hard to engage,” he noted.

Teaching science literacy made him realize that kids often don’t have the essential skills to discern good information from bad and were being taken advantage of by those who create and share falsehoods. “Hopefully, I opened their eyes to be leery of what people say. If I  can provide a layer of insulation, I feel like I succeeded with them.”

Albrink wishes that he had encountered news literacy resources and applied them to his science classes sooner. Now that he has, he will continue to weave science literacy into his classroom lessons. “To progress as a professional, I think this is the direction I want to go,” he said.

NewsLit Nation, The Juice partner to support educators

The News Literacy Project is pleased to announce a new partnership with The Juice, a unique learning program created to help students develop media literacy, reading comprehension and critical thinking skills.

“When considering partners to align with, The Juice just made sense,” said Ebonee Rice, NLP’s senior vice president of the educator network. “They uphold a high bar for helping educators source content to teach the specialized pedagogical methods specific to the process of news literacy and critical thinking. We are excited to see how this platform enhances our network’s ability to positively impact news literacy education.”

Through this partnership, members of NLP’s national educator network, NewsLit Nation, can use the resources of this current events-focused learning platform free during this school year and at a reduced price thereafter. (Educators who have not yet joined NewsLit Nation can easily register now.)

Educators can apply Checkology® virtual classroom lessons or NLP’s other educator resources and use them with The Juice, which is designed specifically for educators and students in grades 5-12. The learning platform’s newsletter, The Daily Juice, is created by journalists, educators and assessment experts. The Daily Juice enables students to quickly read a few of the most interesting news stories of the day. These include narratives of positive human accomplishments, vocabulary builders and STEM concepts. An assessment question follows each story, and teachers receive real-time diagnostic data about student performance that highlights standards mastery and accountability.

Each story is published at four different competency levels, so students have access to the same information regardless of their reading level. This provides an opportunity for inclusive classroom conversations around the same topics.

Follow this special link to sign up for a no-obligation trial.

 About The Juice

The company comprises experienced educators, journalists and technologists committed to making students better critical thinkers, communicators and citizens by equipping them with the tools to thrive in the 21st century. The Juice is a “plug-and-play solution” that aims to make educators’ lives easier and empower educators to make informed, data-driven learning decisions.

 

For student leader, news literacy brought growth and opportunity

At NLP, we know that our programs and resources work — our metrics tell us so. But statistics don’t show the personal impact of news literacy education, and we find those stories inspiring.

Photo of Valeria LuquinThat’s why we recently checked in with Valeria Luquin. We met her in 2019 when she was a freshman at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School in Van Nuys, California. Journalism teacher Adriana Chavira introduced Luquin and her classmates to news literacy using NLP’s Checkology® virtual classroom when they were ninth graders. Valeria quickly grasped the concepts and applied what she learned to her daily life. She did so well we named her our Gwen Ifill Student of the Year! In this video she talks about helping family and friends become more news-literate and acting as a good role model for her younger sister.

Today, Luquin is a high school senior and news magazine editor-in-chief at her school’s student-run news website, The Pearl Post.  She also represents the student body as its vice president. “I look back on who I was freshman year [and] I notice a huge growth in myself as a person and as a student journalist,” said Luquin, who is also co-host of the school’s new Room 22 podcast.

Changing with the times

Chavira, who still teaches journalism at the school, tackles the changing trends in how students get their information. “As students increasingly rely more on their news from social media platforms such as TikTok, I’ve put more of an emphasis on asking them where they get their information,” she said. “I’ve always encouraged them to double-check the information to ensure that they are re-posting accurate information, especially in the past year with news of the Jan. 6 insurrection and COVID-19 pandemic.”

The students are changing as readily as the information landscape, Chavira said. “I’ve noticed that my freshmen this year come in with more news literacy skills than in previous years. They already know to double-check the information on social media, especially if it’s only one account reporting certain information.”

That kind of savvy is simply a part of who Luquin now is. “I still find all of the information from Checkology to be useful in my everyday life,” she said. That includes identifying credible sources and having a deep appreciation for the work journalists do to inform the public. “I am still not sure what I would like to major in, but a career in the journalism field is one of my top choices.”

Whatever path she chooses, Luquin credits her involvement with NLP for giving her an advantage early on. “The News Literacy Project opened up a lot of doors for me, especially after I was awarded the Gwen Ifill Student of the Year award. I am grateful for all they have done for me and for the work they continue to do to teach young teenagers about the importance of journalism.”

Librarian K.C. Boyd an advocate for students, community, profession

When you think of a librarian, do you envision that old movie cliché of a timid woman putting a finger to her lips and “shushing” readers? If so, you’ve never met K.C. Boyd, a public-school librarian in Washington, D.C.

Last year, Boyd became one of NLP’s first News Literacy Ambassadors, educators who work in their communities to help bring news literacy education to their schools and create a generation of civically engaged news-literate adults. Boyd is a passionate advocate for her profession, her students and her community.

For example, earlier this month she and her fellow librarians worked to support an amendment to the District of Columbia’s public schools budget to provide $3.25 million for the restoration of full-time librarian positions in 36 schools, many in under-served neighborhoods. That amendment, introduced by District of Columbia Councilmember Janeese Lewis George, was unanimously approved by the District Council in early August. Boyd said the victory was the result of hard work by a coalition of educators, school district leaders and parents. “We’d been fighting for 18 months,” she said. “It was a big lift, and I’m thankful for the unanimity. Now we’re making an extra push to make the positions essential.”

Second generation educator

Boyd’s deep commitment to education runs in the family. Raised in Chicago, both of her parents were science teachers, and her mother later became a computer science teacher. But Boyd, who has been a librarian for 24 years, says she at first resisted her parents’ encouragement to become an educator. After college, she worked in corporate America as a recruiter for a Fortune 500 company. When she began to feel stalled in her position, her father again made his case. “He swooped back in and got me to go back to school for a master’s in library science,” said Boyd, who has been a librarian at the district’s  Jefferson Middle School Academy for five years.

Previously, she served as the Area Library Coordinator for Chicago Public Schools and was a District Coordinator for the Mayor Daley Book Club for Middle School Students. She also was  the lead librarian in East St. Louis, Illinois. She also holds master’s degrees in media communications and education leadership.

‘You’ve got to give them a platform to discover’

Boyd currently serves on the executive board for the District of Columbia Library Association and the Advisory Board for EveryLibrary. She is a member of the American Library Association Chapter Council representing Washington D.C., the American Association of School Librarians Digital Tools and the Washington Teachers’ Union Equity Collaborative.

Over the course of her career, she has seen how technology has changed libraries and the way  people use them but says the essence of her role is largely the same. She continues to help students discover the joys of reading every day, improve their research skills, receive the preparation needed to succeed in high school and grow into upstanding digital citizens. That concept, practicing responsible digital citizenship, is embedded in the media studies course that she teaches.

“I incorporate many different programs in this course. I use current events from The Sift® [NLP’s free weekly newsletter for educators] and apply that to a lesson or activity,” she said. “It challenges their thinking and their place in the world. And they learn a lot. You’ve got to give them that platform to discover.”

"It challenges their thinking and their place in the world. And they learn a lot. You've got to give them that platform to discover." -K.C. Boyd, Middle school media specialist

Having seen students struggling to discern credible sources and information from a flood of misinformation, Boyd wants to make an impact outside her classroom as an NLP ambassador. After a school year disrupted by the pandemic, she is looking forward to developing a plan to involve educators in D.C., Maryland and Virginia in efforts to promote news literary education and hopes to get organizations that serve educators and librarians on board. When you visit Boyd’s website The Boss Librarian Blog, the passion that makes her an ideal ambassador is evident in the tagline at the top of the page: “Bringing the zeal back to school librarianship.”

Back to school with the News Literacy Project

With the start of the school year, are you ready to dive into news literacy education? Becoming news-literate helps students learn to better navigate our complex information landscape and avoid spiraling down misinformation rabbit holes. It’s also essential to being civically engaged.

The events of the last 18 months have made it clear just how urgently students need news literacy skills. If you want to help your students discern facts from falsehoods, start with the News Literacy Project (NLP). We’re the leading provider of impactful, relevant and FREE resources and programs for teaching news literacy.

Begin by registering for NLP’s e-learning platform, the Checkology® virtual classroom, where your students will learn to identify credible information, seek out reliable sources, recognize misinformation and help stop its spread. The lessons also help them understand the role of the free press and the First Amendment in our democracy, and they are aligned to the C3 Framework, Common Core State Standards-ELA and to the ISTE standards. Checkology lessons also enhance students’ comprehension across disciplines. And be sure to join NLP’s NewsLit Nation, a national network to engage and mobilize more than 40,000 educators in all 50 states.

Events for the new school year

NLP supports your work throughout the school year, beginning with a variety of events and offerings. Choose the one that works best for you.

Online resources always available

Throughout the pandemic, when thousands of schools had to rely on distance learning, demand for Checkology surged. Aaron Feldstein, a middle school social studies teacher in California, is one of many educators who told NLP how much they valued our work. “If I were in charge, Checkology would be part of a national mandated curriculum for sure,” Feldstein said.

Whatever this school year brings, you can be sure NLP will be there to continue supporting educators and students avoid misinformation and become more news-literate.

NLP and Checkology® honored by Library Association

We’re proud to announce that NLP and our Checkology® virtual classroom have been selected in the annual list of the Best Digital Tools for Teaching & Learning by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).  The organization recognizes electronic resources “that provide enhanced learning and curriculum development for school librarians and their educator collaborators.”

NLP was honored, in part, for providing high-quality resources that educators were able to adapt for use during the COVID-19 pandemic. Checkology was recognized as one of the best electronic resources available.

“The digital tools honored in 2021 demonstrate how education has stepped up to support remote and blended learning environments,” AASL said. “They provide high-quality resources for many content areas and engaging learning activities. In developing the list, the committee also focused on equity and access.”

The organization released the list this week and you can access the full list of honorees at www.ala.org/aasl/best.

“NLP is thrilled that Checkology is being recognized for the free resources it offers to help educators teach news literacy and to connect all students with news literacy education,” said Ebonee Rice, NLP’s vice president of the educator network. “Today’s students are navigating an incredibly complex information landscape and Checkology is more important than ever.”

Checkology helps middle and high school students learn how to identify credible information, seek out reliable sources, and apply critical thinking skills to separate fact-based content from falsehoods. NLP expanded access to Checkology last year by dropping the paywall for educators and parents engaged in distance learning or homeschooling, due to the pandemic and school closures.