Educators! Enter your students in our essay contest for a chance for both of you to win an Amazon gift card worth up to $100. Deadline: April 6, 2022.

Student voice is a catalyst for positive change in schools and communities. For this reason, Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), in partnership with the News Literacy Project, is hosting a writing contest to empower students to be civically informed and engaged.

The PitchIt! student essay contest is an opportunity for students to write about some of the most important topics of our time and explore how they can help combat misinformation or work to protect freedom of the press. Essay finalists receive detailed feedback from a panel of journalists, and the winners (student and teacher) receive prizes!

TEACHING AND LEARNING GOALS

  • Teachers have an authentic and engaging writing assignment that amplifies student voices and explores issues aligned to district curricula, standards and required topics, such as the First Amendment.
  • Students analyze different types of misinformation and show the ability to think critically about what is and is not verifiable information.
  • Students apply their news and media literacy skills to solve the misinformation problem.
  • Finalists receive real-time feedback from journalists in the field who report on these issues every day.

AWARDS: for each grade band 6-8 and 9-12

Grand prize: $100 Amazon gift cards (for teacher and student winner)

First place
$75 Amazon gift card (teacher and student)

Second place
$50 Amazon gift card (teacher and student)

Third place
$25 Amazon gift card (teacher and student)

**Finalists will participate in the PitchIt! Grand Prize event on Zoom on April 28, where they will share their essays and receive feedback from the journalists. The winners will be chosen at this time.

ELIGIBILITY

This contest is open to middle and high school students participating with the support from a teacher. Schools are encouraged to conduct their own internal essay competition to coordinate, and teachers submit their top three essays per grade band (6-8 and 9-12).

LEARNING TASK AND CHOOSING THE ESSAY TOPIC

News literacy is the ability to determine the credibility of news and other content. Students will write an essay about a local, national or international event that would have benefited from news literacy skills being applied to stop misinformation from being spread about it. They will answer one of the prompts below.

PROCESS

Step 1. Teacher introduces the writing assignment to students and the process by which the top essays will advance. News literacy topics are explored with students as they relate to the curriculum. Explore the free educator resources on NewsLit Nation or the Checkology® virtual classroom on topics like the First Amendment. See resources from the NLP, M-DCPS library, which includes access to The New York Times, articles on ProQuest http://virtuallibrary.dadeschools.net/#, or any other available sources.

Step 2. Ask students to pick one of the prompts below to write about.

Step 3. Encourage students to review the article formatting requirements before submitting their essays to you.

Step 4. Teachers select up to three student essays per grade, per school, and submit.

Step 5. NLP’s educator panel selects six essays per grade band (6-8 and 9-12), to advance to the finalist stage.

Step 6: All finalists pitch their stories to a panel of journalists during the PitchIt! Grand Prize event on Zoom and receive personalized feedback and a certificate. Panelists choose the winners, who receive prizes awarded during the event.

 PROMPTS

  • The First Amendment has five freedoms, and in many ways they are dependent on one another. Explain how other freedoms of the First Amendment are required to protect the freedom of the press.
  • What steps should someone take to fact-check false statements by a well-known figure and what problems might arise as a result?
  • People have responsibilities – things that they should do but are not required to by law. Why would providing reliable information be a responsibility?
  • Imagine you heard a rumor about public figure, but you’re not sure if it is true or not. What are the potential consequences if you share it online?

CRITERIA

  • Essays must be the original, unpublished work of one student.
  • Essays must be 500-1000 words, clearly addressing one of the prompts.
  • All essays must have a title.
  • Proper citation of sources is required.
  • Only three essays from each grade may be submitted per school.
  • Essays must be proofread and should follow the rules for standard English (grammar, punctuation, mechanics) in writing.
  • A cover page MUST be included with the following information: student name, student ID, grade level, student complete address, best student phone number, school’s name, principal’s name, teacher’s name, best teacher’s phone number and email address and title of essay.
  • Entries must be submitted via email to Monica Valdes, Miami news literacy ambassador, mdvaldes@dadeschools.net.
  • Finalists must be able to virtually participate in the PitchIt! Grand Prize event on April 28, 2022.

STUDENT TIPS

  • Essays must have a recognizable beginning (opening or introduction), middle and end (closing or conclusion).
  • Hook the reader with a strong opener. Readers will use the first few sentences to decide whether they will read the whole essay.
  • Keep your paragraphs short. Popular essays tend to average three sentences per paragraph.
  • Submit thoroughly thought-out, tightly focused essays. Originality is also important.
  • In the conclusion, include a “call to action.” Encourage readers to take some positive steps. For instance, if you’ve given them a list of tips, prompt them to put some of the tips into practice.
  • Essays should be typed in 12-point, easily readable font (such as Times New Roman), double-spaced with 1” margins and numbered pages.

Contest Deadline: April 6, 2022, 5 p.m. EST.

While not required, we recommend schools conduct their own internal essay contest to establish the top essays for submission. Schools/teachers should submit their top three winning essays per grade with cover letter via email to: Monica Valdes, Miami news literacy ambassador,  mdvaldes@dadeschools.net

Download the PitchIt! student essay contest flyer (PDF).

FAQs:

  • What does “teacher support” mean?
    Successful writers are made through direct instruction. Teachers are encouraged to support students in both content and the writing process. The teacher’s name and contact information must also be indicated in the cover letter as the primary point of contact regarding the entry.
  • How are the essays judged?
    Essays will be reviewed by news literacy ambassadors for readability and creativity. Finalist essays will be judged by a panel of journalists for accuracy, readability and creativity, during the PitchIt! Grand Prize event on April 28, 2022. Successful essays are about a local, national or international story that would have benefited from news literacy skills being applied to stop misinformation from being spread about it. For example, consider the impact a story had, and whether false claims about it could be debunked using reputable and verifiable sources of information.
  • I am not part of M-DCPS, can I still participate?
    Absolutely! The PitchIt! contest is open to all M-DCPS and Miami-area students.
  • What document formats are accepted?
    Whatever format is easy for you and your student: Microsoft Word, PDF, Google doc.
  • How are the finalists announced?
    Email notification will be sent to the teacher by mid-April.
  • I have more questions! Do you have contacts?
    Questions about NLP resources can be directed to Jordan Maze, senior manager of educator network operations, jmaze@newslit.org. Questions about rules can be directed to Miriam Romais, senior manager of educator engagement, network@newslit.org, and questions about entries can be directed to our Miami News Literacy Ambassador, Monica Valdes, at mdvaldes@dadeschools.net.

“Our learning goals for this contest include helping students analyze different types of misinformation and showcasing their ability to think critically about what is and is not verifiable information. When we fail to teach news literacy, we actively disempower students from being engaged members of their communities. That’s why we hope students and teachers from across the district will enter and participate.” –Monica Valdes, social studies and film teacher, M-DCPS.

For everyone: News literacy Twitter chat

Jan. 25, 4-5 p.m. ET: National News Literacy Week #NLPchat
Join News Literacy Project team members and NewsLit Nation ambassadors from across the country for a Twitter chat from 4 to 5 p.m. ET. We’ll discuss effective methods for teaching news literacy and why understanding how journalism works is essential to being news-literate. To take part, simply follow @NewsLitProject and #NLPChat during the chat and add your voice to the discussion.

NLP webinar: Lesson planning for your misinformation unit

Join us for a first look at the News Literacy Project’s new framework for teaching news literacy in this free webinar, which is being held in conjunction with National News Literacy Week.

Special guest Jay McTighe, co-author of the best-selling and award-winning Understanding by Design® series with Grant Wiggins, will help introduce the framework, which was developed using the Understanding by Design® template (Wiggins and McTighe, 2005).

NLP’s new teaching framework will help educators shape learning experiences so that students can independently use their skills to be smart, active consumers of news and information and equal and engaged participants in a democracy.

NLP experts will offer a deep dive into the framework, focusing on the development and use of essential questions in lesson planning. The team will discuss why essential questions can be beneficial as entry points into news literacy units, and explain how educators can incorporate them into their existing curriculum. The webinar will also cover NLP’s complementary programs and resources, including the Checkology® virtual classroom. The final minutes of the webinar are reserved for a live Q&A.

Giveaway: All registrants attending the live webinar are eligible to win one of 10 books co-authored by McTighe. The giveaway is sponsored by NLP.

Register now (it’s free!)

This event is part of the third annual National News Literacy Week (NNLW), Jan. 24 to 28, presented by NLP in partnership with The E.W. Scripps Company. NNLW raises awareness of news literacy as an essential life skill and provides educators, students and the public with easy-to-adopt tools and tips for becoming news-literate.

Contact

Please email any questions to Shaelynn Farnsworth (sfarnsworth@newslit.org).

NewsLitCamp® in Gwinnett County, Atlanta

Calling all metro Atlanta educators!

Join us for NewsLitCamp Gwinnett County, in partnership with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Gwinnett County Public Schools, on Jan. 25 at 9a.m. ET.

NewsLitCamp is an immersive, free professional learning experience primarily for middle and high school educators. It features topical sessions (selected with input from participants) led by journalists and news literacy experts, designed to develop expertise in news literacy education, share specialized teaching resources and provide a behind-the-scenes view of the news reporting process.

You’ll leave NewsLitCamp with new ideas, skills and resources to help your students navigate today’s complex and challenging information landscape and demystify what distinguishes quality journalism from rumors, hoaxes and other types of misinformation.

Register here: https://bit.ly/NLCGwinnettCounty

This event is made possible with support from SmartNews. It is part of a series of NewsLitCamp events led by the News Literacy Project in collaboration with a diverse group of news organizations around the country.

National NewsLitCamp®: Misinformation

Join us on Jan. 27 for a very special NewsLitCamp® held as part of National News Literacy Week.

This unique, virtual event is designed to help students understand, recognize and avoid misinformation. Sessions will include insights from expert journalists and news professionals and the opportunity to connect and share directly with others in small, virtual breakout rooms. Learn from misinformation expert Jane Lytvynenko, founders of the student-led nonprofit organization Teens for Press Freedom, and other leaders in the field  about the different types of misinformation and how you can better prepare your students to navigate it.

What is NewsLitCamp?

NewsLitCamp is an immersive, free professional learning experience primarily for middle and high school educators. It features topical sessions (selected with input from participants) led by journalists and news literacy experts, designed to develop expertise in news literacy education, share specialized teaching resources and provide a behind-the-scenes view of the news reporting process.

What can I expect?

Educators who join NewsLitCamp: Misinformation will leave the day with new ideas, skills and resources to help students navigate today’s complex and challenging information landscape and demystify what distinguishes quality journalism from rumors, hoaxes and other types of misinformation.

Whether you’re a teacher, a librarian, or other educator looking to build upon your news literacy skills, we’d love for you to join. RSVP here: https://bit.ly/NNLC2022.

Questions? Email us at newslitcamp@newslit.org.

This event is made possible with support from SmartNews.

edWeb Webinar: Tips and techniques for teaching news and media literacy

Join us at a virtual edWebinar on Jan. 24 for a discussion about best practices in teaching news and media literacy. Hear from four of the News Literacy Project’s news literacy ambassadors about the tips and techniques they use to teach this important lifelong skill. This webinar will be held in conjunction with National News Literacy Week.

Register here for this free presentation on edWeb.

Today’s information landscape — filled with “fake news,” misinformation and conspiracy theories — has become increasingly difficult to navigate, particularly for students. How can you help them develop the news and media literacy skills they need to identify, analyze and understand credible sources of information? What are best practices in teaching news and media literacy?

In this edWebinar, four of the News Literacy Project’s news literacy ambassadors will discuss tips and techniques for teaching news and media literacy — K.C. Boyd, library media specialist at District of Columbia Public Schools in Washington, D.C.; Dr. Cathy Collins, technology teacher at Sharon Middle School in Sharon, Mass.; Molly Roquet, head librarian at Redwood Day in Oakland, Calif.; and Monica Valdes, social studies and film teacher at Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Miami, Fla. Miriam Romais, NLP’s senior manager, educator engagement, also will join in the discussion. The ambassadors will describe how they engage their students in classroom discussions and activities that develop skills such as identifying credible information, seeking out reliable sources, and thinking critically. The conversation will be moderated by NLP’s Shaelynn Farnsworth, director of educator network expansion.

Attendees will also learn about NLP’s free educator resources for integrating news literacy concepts into the classroom, including the NewsLit Nation forum, educator resources, the Checkology® virtual classroom and the Sift® newsletter.

This event is held in conjunction with the third annual National News Literacy Week (NNLW), Jan. 24 to 28, and presented by the NLP in partnership with The E.W. Scripps Company. NNLW raises awareness of news literacy as an essential life skill and provides educators, students and the public with easy-to-adopt tools and tips for becoming news-literate.

Contact

Please email any questions to Shaelynn Farnsworth (sfarnsworth@newslit.org).

For everyone: Understanding misinformation and how to talk to people who believe it

A news literacy learning series for older adults 

The News Literacy Project is hosting a free webinar series Understanding Misinformation and How to Talk to People Who Believe It to foster more productive conversations free of misinformation among friends and family members and across generations — particularly during the holidays. The series is sponsored by the Fore River Foundation and is being offered in partnership with AARP’s OATS/Senior Planet program. John Silva, NLP’s senior director of professional learning, and Elizabeth Price, NLP’s manager of professional learning, will lead the sessions.

These free webinars will help participants understand what misinformation is, how people come to believe it and how to effectively and compassionately communicate and debunk those beliefs. While older adults play a critical role in sorting fact from fiction and helping others to do so, everyone can benefit from resources and support to help prevent harm from mis- and disinformation.

We’ve recorded the four webinars, complemented with additional resources, in case you missed a session or want to revisit a topic. Links are below. We hope you find the program valuable as you become more news-literate and help others to do the same.

In case you missed it:

Watch session 1, The Misinformation Landscape, which discusses how to move beyond the unhelpful term “fake news” to more precisely identify the many types of misleading, inaccurate and false information that we encounter regularly. The session explores how propagators of misinformation use our emotions and cognitive biases to manipulate us. Access the presentation slides here.

Watch session 2, Essential Fact-Checking Skills, which dives into the tools and skills needed to fact-check and verify the authenticity of information as well as how to source its origins for yourself. Access the presentation slides here.

Watch session 3, Productive conversations without confrontation, which shares the skills needed to talk with someone whose beliefs are fueled by misinformation — and still have a productive, non-confrontational conversation. Access the presentation slides here.

Watch session 4, Understanding news media bias, which explores the adjacent subject of bias in news coverage and its potential to mislead and misinform the public. This session will help you think more clearly about what causes bias in reporting, what it looks like in coverage and what you can do when you encounter it in your news diet. Access the presentation slides here.

Coming up  in 2022

Please save the date for National News Literacy Week, Jan. 24-28, 2022!

edWeb Webinar: Conspiracy theories, extremism, and TikTok: A conversation with a disinformation researcher

Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021
4-5 p.m. EST

Conspiracy theories, extremism, and TikTok: A conversation with a disinformation researcher

Join us at a virtual edWebinar on Nov. 30 for an important conversation about disinformation on social media with Peter Adams, the News Literacy Project’s senior vice president of education; Abbie Richards, TikTok disinformation researcher; and Shaelynn Farnsworth, NLP’s director of educator network expansion.

Register here for this free presentation on edWeb.

From QAnon to pandemic-related beliefs, conspiracy theories are increasingly part of mainstream discourse and public awareness. Many conspiracy theories take hold via social media such as TikTok, Facebook and Twitter, posing a particular threat to young users who can easily fall down rabbit holes and even get drawn into extremist ideologies. However, social media also hosts a number of influencers and resources devoted to combating misinformation and disinformation, including the popular @tofology TikTok channel created by TikTok disinformation researcher Richards.

Attendees will learn how to recognize conspiratorial thinking patterns and pitfalls and common strategies employed online by conspiracy theory adherents. They will also explore the connection between conspiratorial beliefs and extremist ideologies. Attendees will gain an understanding of the stakes posed by conspiracy theories and receive guidance on effective educational resources related to this topic, including Richards’s popular conspiracy theories chart.

This edWebinar will be of interest to teachers, librarians, and school and district leaders from the middle school level to higher education. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask Adams and Richards  about conspiracy theories, social media and best practices in teaching about this challenging topic.

Contact

Please email any questions to Peter Adams (padams@newslit.org) or Shaelynn Farnsworth (sfarnsworth@newslit.org).

Registration link: https://bit.ly/NLCBayArea2021

A virtual, regional, educator-centered professional development experience in collaboration with Local News Matters.

Join the News Literacy Project and San Francisco Bay Area-based independent newsroom Local News Matters on Nov. 22  for a virtual, educator-focused NewsLitCamp® led by journalists from Local News Matters alongside NLP’s news literacy experts.

This event is open to all educators throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including those in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma counties.

Questions? Email us at newslitcamp@newslit.org or visit us at newslit.org for more information.

This NewsLitCamp is sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight foundation.

Please note: This event is open only to Detroit Public School educators. If you are a DPS educator, access the following link to register: https://bit.ly/NLCDetroit2021

A virtual, regional, educator-centered professional development experience in collaboration with Detroit Public Schools and the Detroit Free Press

Join the News Literacy Project (NLP) and Detroit Public Schools on Nov. 2 for a virtual, educator-focused NewsLitCamp® led by journalists from the Detroit Free Press and NLP’s news literacy experts, designed to empower you to teach news literacy.

This event is open to all educators in Detroit Public Schools.

Questions? Email us at newslitcamp@newslit.org or visit us at newslit.org for more information.

This NewsLitCamp is sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight foundation.

NLP partners with We The Veterans to offer misinformation webinar

Misinformation and disinformation target all of us, with purveyors of falsehoods often exploiting our deeply held values and beliefs, including patriotism. That’s why the News Literacy Project is partnering with We the Veterans, a nonpartisan nonprofit created by veterans and military families, to present a free webinar, Exploring the misinformation landscape: Understanding how and why people believe false information, Wednesday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m. ET.

We are honored to have the opportunity to reach this audience, but you do not have to be a veteran, active military or a family member to participate. The webinar is open to all.

In this session, John Silva, NLP’s senior director of professional learning and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, will discuss how to move beyond the unhelpful term “fake news” to more precisely identify the many types of misleading, inaccurate and false information that we encounter regularly.

Silva will explore motivations behind different propagators of misinformation and different ways that they use our emotions and cognitive biases to manipulate us into believing something is true. In  addition, he will demonstrate key fact-checking and verification skills for identifying misinformation. By getting to a deeper understanding of misinformation, we all can become less susceptible to it and more likely to prioritize reliable, verified sources of news and information.

About We the Veterans

We the Veterans is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization created by veterans and military family members, united for democracy and committed to building a more perfect union. Its mission is to harness the strength of veterans and military families to support the pillars of American democracy. We the Veterans unites private and public sector experts and leaders to find solutions to our country’s biggest challenges. The organization’s programming is designed to engage and empower the veteran community, supporters and allies to take action in their local communities and beyond.

 

Calling all educators: Here’s your chance to learn how to teach news literacy!

The News Literacy Project, in cooperation with Village Consultancy, is hosting a series of professional learning webinars focused on essential news literacy concepts. In these sessions, educators will learn about these concepts, discuss curriculum integration and find out how to use resources from NLP.  This complimentary series for educators is supported by U.S. Embassy Singapore

All webinar times listed below are in Singapore Standard Time (SST). 

Session 1 – Introduction to News Literacy for educators of students at primary, secondary and junior college levels, as well as tertiary levels, on 29 October from 16:00-17:30. Register here.

We’ll provide an overview of key news literacy concepts and essential questions to develop learning objectives for students to become reliably informed, such as recognizing the difference between news and opinion, identifying the primary purpose of information, understanding how news judgment is made, evaluating evidence and sources, using fact-checking and digital verification tools, and recognizing the standards of quality journalism.

Session 2 – Exploring the Misinformation Landscape for educators of students at secondary, junior college and tertiary levels on 5 November from 16:00-17:30. Register here.

In this session you will learn how to teach students to move beyond the unhelpful term “fake news” to more precisely identify the many types of misleading, inaccurate and false information that they encounter. We will discuss NLP’s taxonomy for five different types of misinformation, explore motivations behind different types of propagators of misinformation, discuss ways people are manipulated through emotions and cognitive biases and examine effective debunking strategies. By teaching a deeper understanding of misinformation, students can become less susceptible to it and more likely to prioritize reliable, verified sources of news and information.

Session 3 – Digital Verification for educators of students at secondary, junior college and tertiary levels on 12 November from 16:00-17:30. Register here.

In this session we will explore the tools and skills students need to verify the authenticity of information and learn to create engaging fact-checking investigations that empower students to investigate and debunk viral content. Topics include developing critical observation skills to determine original context; learning to use reverse image searches to determine authenticity of photos and video; and using advanced search techniques on the web and in social media.

Session 4 – Exploring the Misinformation Landscape for educators of primary school students on 19 November from 16:00-17:30. Register here.

 In this session you will learn how to teach students to move beyond the unhelpful term “fake news” to more precisely identify the many types of misleading, inaccurate and false information that they encounter. We will discuss NLP’s taxonomy for five different types of misinformation, explore motivations behind different types of propagators of misinformation, discuss ways people are manipulated through emotions and cognitive biases and examine effective debunking strategies. By teaching a deeper understanding of misinformation, even younger students can become less susceptible to it and more likely to prioritize reliable, verified sources of news and information.

Session 5 – Digital Verification, for educators of primary school students on 3 December from 16:00-17:30. Register here.

In this session we will explore the tools and skills students need to verify the authenticity of information and learn to create engaging fact-checking investigations that empower students to investigate and debunk viral content. We will focus on how younger students can develop critical observation skills to determine original context and how students can use advanced search techniques on the web and in social media.