Lesson Duration

“The checkology™ virtual classroom is a dynamic collection of digital news literacy learning experiences, student resources and teacher evaluation tools… the platform currently contains an introduction and 12 core lessons arranged under four thematic modules.” Also included is the “Check Tool,” which helps users evaluate the credibility of any piece of news or information they find online. The Resources section includes a detailed Teacher’s Guide as well as transcripts of the videos.

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From the Teacher’s Guide:

Module 1: Filtering News and Information

Know Your Zone: Sorting Information:

Students discover how to evaluate information based on its primary purpose among seven main “Info Zones” (news, opinion, entertainment, advertising, publicity, propaganda and raw information). They then apply this skill to a compilation of examples of news and information about the shooting of teenager Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. The lesson is hosted by Tracie Potts of NBC News Channel.

What Is News?:

Students explore how journalists “filter” information, or determine which events and issues to cover in a news cycle, by using four key criteria; they then apply them to both hypothetical and actual news events that present consistently difficult choices. The lesson is hosted by Paul Saltzman of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Deciding the Day’s Top Stories:

In this highly interactive lesson, students are challenged to apply their news judgment skills to narrow a list of more than 20 potential news items down to five top stories, choose the lead (most important) story and the off-lead (second most important), and then explain their selections.

Module Two: Exercising Civic Freedoms

The First Amendment: Freedom to Express: 

Students learn why the First Amendment’s five freedoms — especially the protections of press and speech — are vital to American democracy. They then learn about six landmark First Amendment decisions and explain their own opinions about each case before reflecting on the significance of the Supreme Court rulings. The lesson is hosted by Sam Chaltain, a First Amendment and civics scholar and filmmaker.

A Free Press: Democracy’s Watchdog:

Students learn about the historic watchdog role that a free and independent press plays in the United States by exploring a collection of iconic investigative reports spanning more than a century. The lesson is hosted by James V. Grimaldi of The Wall Street Journal.

Citizen Watchdogs: Playing a Role:

Students extend their understanding of the watchdog role by learning about historic examples of citizens who have played this role. Students then reflect on how they and fellow citizens can document and expose wrongdoing, including monitoring news coverage for breaches of journalistic standards.

Module Three: Navigating Today’s Information Landscape

Virology: Dissecting Rumors:

Students dig into viral online rumors by analyzing actual examples and identifying common “red flags.” They learn the basics of “rumor theory” to understand why people propagate rumors, and then sharpen their ability to evaluate the credibility of such information. The lesson is hosted by Matea Gold of The Washington Post. 

Personalizing Information: The Role of Algorithms: 

Students interact with a mock search engine and social media platform to understand the role algorithms play in personalizing search results and their social media feeds. They then examine how algorithmic personalization can be both beneficial and potentially harmful. The lesson is hosted by Nicco Mele, a digital pioneer, teacher, author and internet entrepreneur.

Branded Content: Master of Disguise:

Students learn the history of the relationships among advertising, the news media and the public to understand the rise of branded content. This lesson helps students identify these new forms of marketing and prompts them to evaluate the level of transparency present in a variety of actual examples.

Module Four: How to Know What to Believe

Getting the Story: Practicing Quality Journalism:

Students learn the standards of quality journalism by playing the role of a rookie reporter in a game-like simulation of a breaking news scene. They must gather the necessary information for a high-quality news report and file it on time with their editor, who guides them throughout the process. This lesson gives students a working understanding of the standards of quality journalism, which will help them recognize when such standards are being met in the news and information they encounter. The lesson is hosted by Fernando Diaz of the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Recognizing Bias:

Students develop a nuanced understanding of media bias by examining actual accusations of media bias and reflecting on their own biases. They then learn how to use four criteria (news judgment, tone, balance and fairness) to critically evaluate bias in a collection of news and information. The lesson is hosted by James Dao of The New York Times.

Checking Credibility:

Evaluating Information: Students are introduced to the Check Tool, NLP’s signature process for determining the credibility of a piece of news or information. The process draws together and helps students synthesize the concepts and skills that they have learned throughout the core unit. Completing this lesson “unlocks” NLP’s Check Tool so students can use it to evaluate pieces of news and information that they select. The lesson is hosted by veteran broadcast journalist Ray Suarez.

tags: media literacy, fake news



"The News Literacy Project (NLP) is a nonpartisan national education nonprofit that works with educators and journalists to teach middle school and high school students how to sort fact from fiction in the digital age."