I have tried to use news articles on and off in my science classroom for many years, but I have not always found it it be as effective as I would like. One year I won a donorschoose.org grade to ScienceWorld magazine, which helped make it more appealing and entertaining to students, but still was hard to integrate as well as I pictures. I have also used Newsela, which was great for differentiating. Without a paid subscription I needed an additional assignment to go with it, as I could not see the scores/use the assignments in Newsela, but I liked the differentiated reading levels available, and the range of articles. I wanted students to make connections between class activities and real-life, as well as improve their literacy skills. Lastly, this year in teaching AP Environmental Science I included an news article assignment. They had to find a news article related to each topic, summarize, include vocabulary words, and then do a short analysis. The analysis portion they really struggled. Almost every student said that every article had no controversy, no bias, etc. I would like to change this assignment for next year, and this gave me some good ideas about how to do so.
I think, even within a science class, there is some bias and some room for interpretation. In an AP level class, students should be able to recognize. Even if the websites are fairly reputable, there are different organizations and political interests involved, and there are sides to consider. Students also got bored with this assignment (it became repetitive) as the year went on.
I would like to adapt this news article assignment to include some of the resources that were included in this lesson.
I think news literacy is very much overlapping with media literacy and one way to improve the assignment to reduce boredom would be to include podcasts in addition to news article. These could include:
- Listenwise.com – I have never seen this before, and I was very impressed with the included quizzes, graphic organizers, and guided questions. This would be a way to change the news article assignment. I was very impressed with the search capabilities on this website as well. These quizzes or graphic organizers could perhaps take the place of the summary.
- Other science news podcasts.
- I just saw a news story recently NPR is supposed be launching a new podcast for kids next week and that, or other kid’s podcasts might be good.
News Literacy Introduction
- I would like to start with a small assignment on news literacy, perhaps including the video shown in this lesson.
- Since they are science articles, although they do cover science topics, also making sure to explicitly analyze graphs, data, maps, etc.
More scaffolding on the analysis portion
- Rather than ask open-ended questions, I think I need to ask more directed questions and tasks such as having them do the fact-checking challenge or reinvent current events described in the Edutopia article. This could take the place of the analysis portion of the assignment.
- Lastly, this source had a clear process for examining an article.
Over the summer I hope to refine the assignment to include these changes discussed here. I think these will help with the news literacy portion of the assignment. I still want to work on them making connections between the news and the class topics, and finding the assignment valuable. I think that I may give narrower choice of articles, or find articles for them. I have suggested websites and guidelines, and I wanted them to find something of interest, but sometimes they found articles that were not really on topic. I’m still thinking about this part. Suggestions welcome!