Educator helps integrate news literacy across disciplines
2021 Educator of the Year
Director of library services
The Overlake School
It didn’t take the tumultuous events of 2020 and the accompanying flood of misinformation to convince educator Kelly Vikstrom-Hoyt that news literacy should be part of every school’s curriculum. She already knew it, and she had established herself as a news literacy leader at her school.
“As the librarian, I consider it my duty to integrate news literacy across as many areas of the curriculum as I can,” Vikstrom-Hoyt told NLP. “In this era of misinformation, social media and information overload, being news-literate is more important than ever. It is the key to being an engaged and informed citizen of our democracy.”
Sara Baquero-Garcia, Overlake’s social studies department chair, nominated Vikstrom-Hoyt for NLP’s educator of the year award — which includes a check for $500 — because of that leadership. “Kelly has been at the forefront of our school’s efforts to integrate news literacy and media studies across the middle and upper divisions,” she said.
To Vikstrom-Hoyt, the urgency of teaching young people news literacy skills and habits of mind was evident as dangerous misinformation about COVID-19 went viral, and rumors and falsehoods about racial justice protests and the presidential election deepened divisions and fueled anger.
While working against this tide of misinformation, educators simultaneously had to transition to distance learning or a hybrid model of teaching. But experience with NLP resources like the Checkology® virtual classroom gave Vikstrom-Hoyt and her students an edge. “I think that… Checkology, specifically, was perfect for the pandemic because it already had these ready-made modules that were interactive, where kids could get the information and I could give it to them as asynchronous work,” she explained.
Baquero-Garcia noted that Vikstrom-Hoyt challenged her students to look for information on Checkology about bias, point of view and validity of sources. And she helped other educators integrate news literacy in their lessons and become comfortable with the technology.
“Kelly is really passionate about her subject and committed to bringing news literacy and media literacy to classrooms. Kelly is one of those people that is always looking over the fence to try to discover what the next area of need will be so she can get right to work on it,” Baquero-Garcia said.
Vikstrom-Hoyt saw proof that students were absorbing what they learned and applying it to other disciplines. For example, an eighth-grade civics class that completed the Checkology lesson on bias in the media then worked on projects for their civics teacher using what they had studied. “The teachers told me that they incorporated a lot of the language and the lessons they learned into that project without even being prompted to do it,” Vikstrom-Hoyt said. “Then, even better, when they did the next project down the line that wasn’t even tied to the lesson I had given them, they were still pulling in those skills, and naming the terms and the things that I taught them in the Checkology lesson.”
She describes news literacy as a “super skill” that empowers young people to engage responsibly with information and she believes it will benefit them in the classroom, in college, in their careers and in daily life. “In order to be an engaged citizen of the country, I think you need to have these skills to get the information, and to vet the information and understand where it’s coming from.”
Vikstrom-Hoyt shares her passion for teaching news literacy in this video.
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