On Tuesday, May 16, NewseumED curriculum developers will be at Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto, Calif., to pilot their newest media literacy class, "Fighting Fake News: How to Outsmart Trolls and Troublemakers," with students who helped shape it. The class was launched at the Newseum in March in response to the false news stories that were widely shared on social media during the 2016 presidential election, and are said to have influenced public opinion.
Students of Esther Wojcicki, a journalism teacher at Palo Alto, provided input to NewseumED staff as they developed the class and a flowchart (link to PDF) helping students determine whether a story is worth sharing by text, tweet or email.
The Newseum's education department has been teaching media literacy for more than 20 years. The free class and flowchart are part of a yearlong rollout of critical thinking tools to help students analyze information as the concern over fake news rises.
With more than 400,000 students visiting the museum each year and 26,000 of them taking a class, NewseumED staff noticed many students struggling to understand basic concepts of media ethics, information sources and bias. At the same time, teachers worldwide began requesting resources and information on how they could best address the "fake news" issue in their classrooms.
The visit to Palo Alto High School is part of NewseumED's commitment to engaging students and using their unique insights to develop its educational content. Rather than a top-down approach, the NewseumED team gathers input from its Student Advisory Team and other students about their views and media consumption habits.
"Plenty of organizations are telling children how to consume news," said Barbara McCormack, vice president of education at the Newseum. "What makes us different is that we're going into the classrooms and listening to what students have to say, and then we're building our curriculum around the information we learn from them."
In NewseumED's "Fighting Fake News" class, students dive into the complexity of digital citizenship, including their active role in the flow of information. They examine case studies that highlight the challenges of today's media landscape, and leave the class with easy-to-implement strategies for being savvy news consumers. Students also explore what "fake news" means, why they should care about it, and how to consider motivations behind stories.
A virtual version of this class will be available starting this fall. The classes at Palo Alto High School will be held from 8:15-9:45 a.m. and 12:15-1:45 p.m. PT on Tuesday, May 16 and 12:15 - 1:45 p.m. PT on Wednesday, May 17.
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The Newseum promotes, explains and defends free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment: religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. Headquartered on historic Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., the Newseum’s compelling, dynamic and engaging exhibits, programs and education initiatives help ensure that these fundamental freedoms remain strong and protected both today and for future generations. The Newseum Institute promotes the study, exploration and education of the challenges confronting freedom through its First Amendment Center and the Religious Freedom Center. The Newseum is a 501(c)(3) public charity funded by generous individuals, corporations and foundations, including the Freedom Forum. For more information, visit newseum.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Jonathan Thompson 202/292-6353 [email protected]