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Videos: News literacy’s impact at Iowa high school


Just weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020, we spoke with Iowa high school teacher Brian Winkel, who was helping his students navigate a flood of misinformation about the virus. The school had transitioned to distance learning, and Winkel was glad he had already discovered NLP’s Checkology® virtual classroom. A few years earlier, he had developed a course on media awareness called 21st Century Literacy, with the e-learning platform as an essential component of the curriculum. At the time, Winkel  told us Checkology was a “godsend.”

Inside an Iowa classroom

Educators and students returned to their classrooms at Cedar Falls High School this school year, and we recently caught up with Winkel and some of his students, creating videos of their lives in and out of school. Winkel told us why he believes news literacy remains so important to his students’ education and to their lives as they enter adulthood. “They have a hard time sorting out the truth,” he said of students when they begin his 21st Century Literacy course. “I do see a change with kids after they come up through this class. I feel like not only am I teaching this class; I’m training kids to make this democracy work.” Hear more about Winkel’s story in the video below.

Student perspectives on news literacy

Seniors Ande McMorris and Colin Seeks might have different interests and world views, but they agree on the value of becoming more news-literate. Ande, captain of the football team, told us he knows there is a great deal of misinformation on social media, and thanks to Winkel’s class, he now understands the harm it can do and is better able to recognize it when he sees it. Watch Ande’s video below to hear his story:

Colin, who loves working on cars, said Winkel’s class introduced him to news literacy concepts, and this has helped him better appreciate his First Amendment rights and the impact that his vote has in a democracy. Watch the video below to hear Colin’s story.

Klaertje Hesselink, who plays violin in the school orchestra and works to raise awareness about climate change, said she learned about the role emotion plays in helping misinformation to spread. Watch Klaertje’s story in the video below.

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