Checkology helps a California student bring news literacy to her family — and beyond
Cristy Menor, a sophomore at the University of California, Riverside, is majoring in sociology and minoring in education, but you could say that she’s doing an unofficial minor in news literacy, too. This first-generation college student prides herself on her fact-checking know-how and has adeptly helped her family and friends become more responsible consumers of information.
She encountered NLP’s Checkology® virtual classroom during the last semester of her senior year at Eastside College Preparatory School in East Palo Alto, California — a private school that focuses on students who would be the first in their families to attend college. English teacher Stacy Arevalo, whose Senior Research Institute class teaches academic research and writing skills and develops critical thinking, had just started using the platform as part of the curriculum.
“It was perfect for what we were looking for, and it was actually much more engaging than we even expected,” Arevalo said. “And the students loved it. It was this really great way to close out their senior year in my class, about wrapping up their learning and sending them off into the world with that knowledge.”
A ripple effect at home
One reason the students were so engaged, Arevalo said, was because they could take what they were learning back to their families, many of whom were immigrants. Menor was 11 when she and her mother came to the U.S. from the Philippines; her father followed two years later.
“It was a really neat bridge to their families and friends, many of whom don’t have a college education,” Arevalo said. “And here they are getting ready to go to college and being able to share these real skills with family members who don’t necessarily have access to that same kind of learning.”
It didn’t take many Checkology lessons for Menor to begin talking with her parents, other family members and friends about what they were seeing on social media. Provided the tools and guidance to tell fact from fiction on the internet, she set out to make sure those around her also appreciate the value of not being fooled by misinformation.
For example, she took screenshots of questionable social media content “pretty much every day during the whole unit,” Arevalo said. She scrolled through Instagram feeds with her peers and pointed out posts that seemed like harmless pictures of women drinking smoothies but were actually targeted ads promoting the drinks for weight loss. And she encouraged her family and friends to check out anything they were unsure about at FactCheck.org or Snopes.com.
“They ask me how to do certain things and take in social media and news and stuff, with the impression that I’m going to check it out and talk to them about it,” Menor said. “It just gives us this room and this place, this open space for us — different generations, different mindsets — to be open because we can use news literacy units to have that conversation.”
From student to teacher
She still talks with her former English teacher about college lectures and current events. If her mother shares a questionably sourced article, Menor is quick to text Arevalo about it with a message such as “Oh, my gosh, my mom shared this post and she didn’t even realize where it’s from and now all my aunties are commenting on it on Facebook and I had to tell them.”
In a way, Menor is acting as a teacher to help family members who have spent the majority of their lives far from the United States better understand the world they now live in — both through the lens of the U.S. history that she learned in school and through current events.
“I’m learning NOT ONLY for myself, but para sa aking pamilya rin (for my family as well),” she told NLP in an email. “They didn’t receive the same opportunities that I am now receiving. They’re trying their best to actively engage with the news, understand the news, and they truly want to learn.”
And Cristy Menor is more than happy to help, using the skills she learned through Checkology.