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What We Do

The News Literacy Project (NLP) reaches middle school and high school students through classroom, after-school and e-learning programs. It also offers in-person and online professional development for educators.

NLP teaches young people how to evaluate the credibility of news and information as a student, consumer and citizen.

It has created a new model that provides real-world learning experiences for students and connects them with journalists who reinforce these lessons by drawing on their own experiences and on recent examples from the news media. 

Classroom Program

The NLP classroom program is designed to give teachers and students a concise and comprehensive survey of news literacy. NLP offers its classroom program in New York City, Chicago and the Washington, D.C., area.

Though it is typically taught as a drop-in unit in English, social studies, history, government, humanities or journalism classes over the course of four weeks, it may be integrated over longer time periods.

The unit has three main phases: teacher-led lessons from NLP’s original curriculum, lessons taught by NLP journalist volunteers in person or remotely via videoconferenceand a final student project that builds and reflects understanding of NLP’s core concepts.

This program is fully supported for each of our partner schools by an NLP coordinator. The coordinator works with teachers to design a unit that is tailored to students’ grade levels, subject matter, needs and academic goals.

NLP coordinators train teachers using our Classroom Guide, which includes a primer on teaching news literacy, NLP’s core curriculum and a collection of supplemental lesson plans and other resources.

NLP also offers after-school programs in New York, Chicago and Washington.

The checkology™ Virtual Classroom

In May 2016, NLP launched the checkology™ virtual classroom, a cutting-edge e-learning platform that is the culmination of our experience with classroom, after-school and digital programs. As of January 2017, more than 2,000 teachers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia had registered to use the platform in their classes, serving almost 220,000 students.

The virtual classroom incorporates many of the best practices in e-learning, including self-pacing, personalization, blended and experiential learning, rich formative assessment, teacher feedback and remediation, points and digital badges. It also includes a class discussion area where students share and comment on work, reflect on key questions and initiate their own conversations about the news and information they encounter in their daily lives.

Throughout the core lessons, journalists from BuzzFeed News, Bloomberg, the Chicago Sun-Times, NBC News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post are joined by experts on the First Amendment and digital media as virtual teachers.

The core unit, which is aligned with next-generation state standards and 21st-century skills, includes 12 engaging, interactive lessons in four thematic modules that incorporate NLP’s four pillars, or enduring understandings:

  • The ability to filter information is an essential skill for journalists and consumers.
  • The First Amendment and a free press are vital to American democracy.
  • Today’s news and information ecosystem presents great challenges and enormous opportunities.
  • Knowing the standards of quality journalism empowers students as consumers and citizens.

The e-learning experiences in these four modules emphasize social media and other digital platforms. They address such topics as the identification and evaluation of viral rumors, the role of algorithms in personalizing news and information, and the ethical implications associated with the rise of branded content.

The core collection of lessons can be completed in 15 to 20 hours and requires access to a high-speed internet connection. Teachers can draw from several models of implementation to tailor the platform to their students’ abilities, resources and schedules.

Our Impact

Assessment results for the 2015-16 school year showed significant improvements in students’ knowledge, attitudes and behavior upon completion of NLP units.

In particular, the majority of students who had participated in an NLP program said they:

  • Gained a greater appreciation of the First Amendment and the watchdog role of a free press in a democracy.
  • Gained a greater appreciation of quality journalism and what distinguishes it from other sources of news and information.
  • Learned to value the professional independence, standards and integrity that journalists strive to achieve.
  • Learned how to seek out news that will make them more knowledgeable about their communities, the nation and the world.
  • Learned to exercise civility, respect and care in online communities.
  • Were more likely to become civically engaged by seeking corrections to factual errors in news reports or by posting links or comments on social media about a social or political issue that concerns them.
  • Were more likely to vote in elections when old enough to do so.