News & Media Litteracy Grades 6–12 Curriculum

List of 50 mn lessons for Grades 6 to 12

Teaching teens to be weary of the information they’re exposed to online is crucial to making them well-informed citizens. “Filter bubbles” from online algorithms have been a new threat to their critical thinking and understanding of the world around them. They in fact compound what we call our natural “ confirmation biases ” by feeding viewers almost exclusively the content they react to the most.

Here are six lessons from Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship ( “ DigCit”) curriculum that address news and media litteracy. Its a great resource for Canadian and US schools, as part of English, French, social studies, health and well-being or technology classes. In Canada, this expands on the existing Digital Litteracy education.

Finding Credible News -Grade 6

The web is full of questionable stuff, from rumors and inaccurate information to outright lies and so-called fake news. So how do we help students weed out the bad and find what’s credible? Help students dig into why and how false information ends up online in the first place, and then practice evaluating the credibility of what they’re finding online.

Students will be able to:

  • Learn reasons that people put false or misleading information on the internet.
  • Learn criteria for differentiating fake news from credible news.
  • Practice evaluating the credibility of information they find on the internet.

Grade 7: The Four Factors of Fair Use :

Kids can be voracious consumers — and creators — of media, and it’s easier than ever for them to find and share digital content online. But do middle-schoolers know about concepts like fair use, copyright, and public domain? Give students a framework they can use to better understand how fair use works in the real world.

Students will be able to:

  • Define the terms “copyright,” “public domain,” and “fair use.”
  • Identify the purpose of the Four Factors of Fair Use.
  • Apply fair use to real-world examples, making a case for or against.

Grade 8: This Just In!

With mobile phone alerts, social media updates, and 24/7 news cycles, it’s hard to escape the daily flood of breaking news. But do kids really understand what they’re seeing when stories first break? Help students analyze breaking news with a critical eye for false or incomplete information, and discuss the downsides of our “always-on” news media culture.

Students will be able to:

  • Define breaking news, and understand why individuals and news outlets want to be first to report a story.
  • Analyze breaking news alerts to identify clues of false or incomplete information.
  • Reflect on the consequences of reacting right away to breaking news alerts.

Hoaxes and Fakes -9th Grade

Pig rescues goat fake video on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=g7WjrvG1GMk
Pig rescues goat fake video on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=g7WjrvG1GMk

We know not to believe everything we hear, but what about what we see? Advancements in computer-generated graphics, facial recognition, and video production have led to a world of viral videos that are often difficult to identify as fake. Help your students learn to read what they see on the web “laterally” by showing them how to get off the page, check credibility, and find corroboration.

Students will be able to:

  • Define “misinformation” and explore the consequences of spreading misinformation online.
  • Learn how to use lateral reading as a strategy to verify the accuracy of information online.
  • Apply lateral reading to examples of questionable videos to determine their accuracy.

Challenging Confirmation Bias -10th Grade

Confirmation Bias and your brain PBS (US) Video — DigLit Education
Confirmation Bias and your brain PBS (US) Video — DigLit Education

Our brains are great at using past experiences to make quick decisions on the fly, but these shortcuts can also lead to bias. “Confirmation bias” is our brain’s tendency to seek out information that confirms things we already think we know. Help your students learn to recognize this when they encounter news online, as a way to examine competing opinions and ideas and to avoid drawing questionable conclusions.

Students will be able to:

  • Define confirmation bias and identify why it occurs.
  • Explore examples of confirmation bias, particularly related to news and online information.
  • Identify strategies for challenging their own confirmation biases.

Clicks for Cash -11th Grade

Clickbait definition by Common Sense Education — DigCit / DigLit education
Clickbait definition by Common Sense Education — DigCit / DigLit education

Well-crafted headlines benefit everyone. They help readers digest information and publishers sell news stories. But what if the headline is misleading? What if it’s crafted just to get clicks and not to inform? “Clickbait” headlines may benefit advertisers and publishers, but they don’t benefit readers. And when they go viral, they can badly misinform the public. Help students recognize and analyze clickbait when they see it.

Students will be able to:

  • Describe how advertisers and publishers make money through online advertising.
  • Describe how clickbait can contribute to the spread of fake news and misinformation.
  • Take a position on whose responsibility it is to fight fake news and misinformation.

Filter Bubble Trouble -12th Grade

Filter bubble Google search result example — DigLit/ DigCit education
Filter bubble Google search result example — DigLit/ DigCit education

When we get news from our social media feeds, it often only tells us part of the story. Our friends — and the website’s algorithms — tend to feed us perspectives we already agree with. Show students ways to escape the filter bubble and make sure their ideas about the world are being challenged.

Students will be able to:

  • Define “filter bubble” and explain how it occurs.
  • Reflect on the limitations and drawbacks that filter bubbles cause.
  • Identify strategies for escaping their own filter bubbles.

> News and Media Litteracy lessons from Common Sense Media for grades K to 12.

Get in touch if you’d like to discuss holding parent & teacher awareness programs and in class sessions for students in Canada and the US. Find me as a digital litteracy expert on the Canada-born Digital Human Library.

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From Digital Marketing to Digital Well Being. Tech for Good. / Pro du marketing digital passée à la Tech4Good. TechforGoodCanada.com

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