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instructional technology master thesis news literacy

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News​ ​Literacy:​ ​A​ ​Introductory​ ​Unit​ ​For​ ​the​ ​Unsuspecting​ ​News​ ​Consumers By:​ ​Katelyn​ ​Lerette University​ ​of​ ​Maine:​ ​Orono Spring​ ​2017 Abstract: The​ ​purpose​ ​of​ ​this​ ​project​ ​ ​is​ ​to​ ​develop​ ​a​ ​news​ ​literacy​ ​unit​ ​that​ ​could​ ​be​ ​implemented in​ ​a​ ​middle​ ​school​ ​classroom​ ​setting.​ ​News​ ​literacy​ ​is​ ​a​ ​21st​ ​century,​ ​c
    News Literacy: A Introductory Unit For the Unsuspecting News Consumers By: Katelyn Lerette University of Maine: Orono Spring 2017   Abstract: The purpose of this project is to develop a news literacy unit that could be implemented in a middle school classroom setting. News literacy is a 21st century, critical thinking skill, that allows students to make informed decisions about the media messages around them. It is essential for students to understand the purpose of news in society and how informed citizens are the heartbeat of a democracy. I surveyed 7-12 grade teachers, across various content areas, to determine where a news literacy unit would be most appropriate. Based off questionnaire results and related research, I determined that 6th-7th grade would be the best time to introduce students to the power of information. The Stony Brook University freshman news literacy course and lessons from the more recent News Literacy Project extensively informed this project. My unit is more condensed, with user-friendly language appropriate to the grade levels I am targeting. The unit is meant to fit any where in the curriculums already established by most school districts. Statement of the Problem and Rationale News literacy is a relatively new term to the education and research worlds; however, this should not dissuade from its importance and necessity. News literacy is the ability to use critical thinking skills to judge the reliability and credibility of news reports, whether they come via print, TV, internet, or social media. To participate in a democracy, one must be an informed citizen; receiving much of one’s information from available news outlets. Teaching students how to evaluate and analyze media messages insures they are educated news consumers who can voice their thoughts and keep the essence of democracy alive. I was initially interested in the topic of news literacy when a conversation was started about knowledge, truth, and certainty in another one of my graduate classes. I am taking a course titled Crowd-Based Knowledge, and the blog topic for our first week of class was to reflect on the following three questions: What is knowledge? How do we know when a claim is true? How can we be certain of the things we think we know? The discussion surrounding these three questions universally dealt with all the fake news that was circulating the recent presidential election. Fake news is defined as journalism that deliberately misinforms consumers with false information. Fake news is not a new concept, but the highly controversial and popular election only illuminated the amount of fake news on the web. So much so, that companies as big as Facebook have taken big strides to clear their platforms of fake news. All this talk of truth, certainty, and news made me realize how I look at news reports and wonder what my students see and think. No longer are my students turning to their parents or their teachers as sole providers of news and information. Any time they open Facebook, turn on the TV, or even research events for class assignments, they are bombarded with information (sometimes factual, often not). It does not matter that I can present factual current event articles in class. It does matter that my students have the skills to read current events and decide for themselves what is news and what isn’t. 1   News literacy got its start in higher education curriculum, such as college courses. Once the News Literacy Project started up in 2009, schools across the country begin implementing news literacy programs in their classrooms with a subscription fee. Recently, The NLP’s checkology virtual classroom, created for grades 8-12, has had great success in schools, 1 however it has limited the audience it can reach. Being a web-based program has deterred schools with limited resources. It requires a high speed internet connection, and the premium version requires students to have 1-1 access with a device. The checkology virtual classroom allows teachers to pick from several models of implementation, catering to their students’ abilities and schedules. There is no recognized news literacy unit established for pre-8 th   grade students. Social media and fake news are reaching students at younger ages than 14; these students need to have the skills to evaluate and analyze media messages as soon as they are exposed to them, not years later. There also needs to be a news literacy unit that allows students to work with limited access to school technology and doesn’t require ample class time or space in the curriculum. My research was guided by three questions. Where can a news literacy unit make the biggest impact in today’s classrooms?   What procedures have teachers used in planning and 2 conducting a news literacy curriculum? How can these practices be adapted to fit my classroom and style of teaching? Literature Review: The most recent Kaiser Family Foundation Study, “Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8 to 18-Year-Olds,” found that young people today are exposed to an average of 10 hours and 45 minutes of media per day, and 1 out of 5 young people consume over 16 hours of media per day. (Hu Dahl, I., & Newkirk, C., 2010) However, these young people are greatly 3 underprepared to deal with this constant bombardment of information every time they interact with technology. A recent study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that 70% of respondents feel overwhelmed by the amount of news and information from different sources, and 72% think most sources of news are biased. (Miller, A.,2010) Students typically use information that finds them, rather 4 1   checkology virtual classroom  2   By impact I mean, where will the biggest shift or change be in a student's education after exposure to the unit. If implemented too soon, the unit may not have any relevance to a student's life. If implemented too late, there will be no time for students to apply it to their education. 3   The report is based on a survey conducted between October 2008 and May 2009 among a nationally representative sample of 2,002 3rd-12th grade students ages 8-18, including a self-selected subsample of 702 respondents who completed seven-day media use diaries, which were used to calculate multitasking proportions. Full report here.  4   Understanding the Participatory News Consumer : The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International between December 28, 2009 and January 19, 2010, among a sample of 2,259 adults, age 18 and older in English. 2  than deciding what information they need (Cheney, D, 2010).   It is not enough to teach students 5 where to get reliable information, for projects and school related reports; they need the skills to quickly take information thrown at them, and decide if it is valid and reliable. With the implementation of the Proficiency Based Learning system across Maine, the shift in education has gone from teaching content, to teaching skills. Students are being pushed to reach higher orders of thinking and understanding in all aspects of their education. One of those skills, critical thinking, is often the main purpose of many units and curriculums. Students do not always think critically about what they read because the purpose of the content is not always immediately apparent (Shultz, S, 2010). News Literacy education is one which thoroughly teaches critical thinking skills in a real-world context. As a lead teacher coordinator at the Center for News Literacy Summer Teacher Institute at Stony Brook University, Steve Shultz witnessed how “students gravitated to learning examples of biased sources of news: how propaganda is designed to persuade, while the goal of advertising is to sell; and how publicity enhances an image, while entertainment diverts the consumer from the reality of his or her daily life. (Shultz, S, 2010) In 2006, Stony Brook University took the first step in creating a news literacy, general education, freshman-level course. The ultimate goal of the news literacy course was for students to become more regular and more skeptical news readers, watchers, and listeners who are able to determine if information is reliable enough for them to reach a conclusion, make a  judgement, or take an action (Fleming, J.,2013). However, based on the overall lack of skills that those students entering the course exhibited, the need for an across-the-board curriculum rich in news literacy was desirable in high school and even the middle and elementary grades. (Shultz, S, 2010) Though News Literacy has only recently taken hold in schools, the underlying concepts of truthful journalism have been around far longer. For example, the Cleveland Urban Journalism Workshop (UJW) program, which started in 1989 by Mark Russell to teach high 6 school students about the journalism field. Starting out, Russell recruited a mix of minority students from Cleveland-area schools and convinced his journalism colleagues to come talk to the youths and share their expertise. What resulted were a series of Saturday classes that trained students in the art of interviewing and writing. Many students went on to pursue  journalism careers. Still around today, the Cleveland Urban Journalism Workshop accepts up to 30 high school students for this free program (Workshop, C. U,(2008).  Another similar journalism program is run through Pal Alto High School. The philosophy behind the Palo Alto High School journalism program is that students learn by doing, not by watching. For the past 25 years, students have written one story per academic year that has 7 5   Cheney drew this conclusion from studies done by the University College London and and the University of Washington. Though these studies could not be located (because weblinks are not working on the site), Cheney summarizes their conclusions by saying, “students are inveterate “power browsers”—they use and search resources that are most familiar to them over and over regardless of the source’s appropriateness for the information need”  6   UJW Program  7   Pal Alto High School Journalism Program  3
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