Wow. What a topic for our times! I started exploring media literacy with my fifth and sixth graders a few years ago, and really got into it after attending a session with Nancy Jo Lambert at a state or national conference. She shared some phenomenal resources on her website and I’ve borrowed or modified almost all of them. If you have any interest in teaching this topic to elementary kids, I highly recommend you check her page. Until recently, my primary goal in teaching media literacy was to make the kids think about the media they consume and how the creators may try to manipulate their purchasing habits.
Now, my focus is shifting to show how media creators can manipulate ideas and information in order to tell the story they want readers, viewers, or listeners to hear. I grew up watching David Brinkley on NBC and the idea that the news media has become something to question is hard for me to bear.
I did a fun lesson with my sixth graders demonstrating how easy it is to create sensational headlines that look real. The teacher and I created one fake headline and one real one using the website Break Your Own News and asked the kids to discern the difference. After talking about elements that made the headlines more or less believable we challenged the kids to make their own, with a goal of fooling readers into believing their story. Here are a few favorites, including a couple that fooled several people.
As for providing elementary students with regular doses of current events, Newsela Elementary looks like a phenomenal source. I love that you can change the lexile level an article without diminishing the content. It’s also linked to Google Classroom which makes it super easy to share articles with students.
Following the news isn’t easy these days, which it makes it that much more essential for us to make sure our students have the skills to be informed members of society.