Grade 7 students took an oath in early October to stop the spread of misinformation and to commit to becoming more critical consumers of online information. Through projects, discussions, and information gathering, students learned the 21st Century skill of telling the difference between news, opinion, and propaganda. They learned strategies to fact check information, videos, and photos. They came to understand that social media is different from news.
In early November, it was time to share what they had learned with their peers. The Grade 7 Newseum opened for business. The two-day museum featured teaching towers, rotating cubes on a self-supporting stand, that served as information sharing. Other students used teaching boards to teach strategies such as lateral reading, a way that professional fact checkers read across multiple websites to evaluate online information. Lastly, middle school guests were introduced to the Trustworthy Site Directory, which is 75 short videos evaluating the reliability and media bias of news sources and intergovernmental agencies’ websites.
Curriculum for this unit was written by Social Studies teacher Michele Turner, using resources from Stanford University’s Civic Online Reasoning Project. Mrs. Turner was a newspaper journalist in the United States before she became a teacher. Also contributing to the project was Maker and Integration Coach Andre De Koker, who added the engineering component of teaching towers and boards for the Newseum.
Students will use their media literacy skills throughout the year to research global issues of significance. Outside of school, it is the hope that MS students will stop and think about source reliability and bias before blindly forwarding on information.