News literacy curriculum for educators

Educators can use these lesson plans and activities to involve news in the learning process and to teach students of all ages about how to be smart consumers of media.

Note: News organizations and educators across the country will celebrate News in Education (NIE) Week 2014 on March 3 – 7.

Media literacy and reading skills

Introductory News Literacy
A condensed and modernized version of the High Five 2012 curriculum (below), this collection offers three units of media literacy activities and lessons. Each unit takes about one or two weeks of class time.

High Five 2012: The integrated language arts and journalism curriculum
These lesson plans introduce middle-school students to journalism concepts and meet national language-arts standards. Three units focus on media literacy, the craft of journalism and newspaper production. Each unit takes about six weeks of class time.

Creating a classroom newspaper
Especially effective at the middle-school level, this guide offers step-by-step instructions for producing a newspaper in class over a period of five days.

Press ahead: A teacher’s guide to creating student newspapers
Middle- and high-school teachers can use the worksheets and detailed assignments in this manual to guide students in the production of a newspaper.

Social media toolbox: A resource for student journalism programs
The “Social Media Toolbox” is a free resource for students and educators who are interested in incorporating the use of social media into student publications. The blog provides lesson plans and resources targeted toward high school journalism students and their advisers. The Newspaper Association of America’s Marina Hendricks was the 2012 winner of the Innovative Outreach to Scholastic Journalism award for this project.

A good read: Literacy strategies with newspapers
This guide is designed to help teachers integrate research-based literacy strategies into existing curriculum using the newspaper.

News as the first rough draft of history, and what’s news where?
In these two activities, students use the Newseum’s “Today’s Front Pages” exhibit to compare/contrast what’s front-page news in their community and in locations around the globe, and to find examples of news coverage of events that are now written up in history books. (Check which Common Core standards apply to this lesson.)

Understanding fairness in reporting and planning for the unpredictable
In one lesson plan, students learn about media ethics by reading an article describing the many concerns the news media must juggle to ensure fair coverage of events. Students then take on the role of reporters balancing these concerns. In the other, students reinforce their understanding of media ethics by grappling with how to balance plans with the unpredictable nature of disasters. (Check which Common Core standards apply to this lesson.)

Media literacy: Evaluating the news and understanding where it comes from
Where does news come from? How do you know if it’s reliable? After studying examples of news stories and charting the sources of information, students stage a mock press conference to experience the process and challenges of effectively communicating and disseminating information. By charting the sources of information in a news story, students understand where the information in the news comes from and how it is disseminated. In another activity, students look at newspaper coverage of a recent front-page event and evaluate the information it provides. (Check which Common Core standards apply to this lesson.)

N the news
The daily newspaper is the textbook for this nine-unit curriculum (revised in 2009), which gives middle- and high-school students an in-depth introduction to the world of journalism.

Math & science

By the numbers: Mathematical connections in newspapers
The newspaper plays a vital role in this guide, which features lesson plans, activities and handouts for middle-school students.

Cereal bowl science
Five modules explore the science behind everyday activities, challenging students to observe, predict, experiment, find a solution and communicate results.

Civics and social studies

Citizens together: You and your newspaper
A five-day lesson plan, “Citizens Together” explores the individual freedoms protected in the Bill of Rights.

Using the newspaper to teach the five freedoms of the First Amendment
Updated to include national learning standards and a uniform lesson-plan structure, this guide features one elementary activity, one middle-school activity and one high-school activity for each “freedom.”

Game on: Civics lessons and American rights
Featuring two activities, “Game On” invites students to use the local newspaper to get in the game of civics and acquire a better understanding of the basic rights of each American citizen as granted by the U.S. Constitution.

Community connections with geography and the newspaper Level 1 and Level 2
Level One blends mapping skills with discussion of the various communities to which everyone belongs. Level Two looks at community identity and geography’s effect on local economies and lifestyles.