The News Literacy Project Adds Five New Schools This School Year

The News Literacy Project (NLP) has begun its second full year in the classroom, partnering with five new middle schools and high schools in New York City, Chicago and Bethesda, Md.

In the 2010-11 school year, NLP will work with at least 25 teachers in at least 11 schools to reach nearly 2,000 students — significant increases in all three areas.

It is also introducing a thoroughly revised Classroom Guide, new lesson plans and improved primers for teachers, journalists and NLP coordinators. It has enhanced its assessment process for students and teachers as well.

In New York City, the project’s new partners are the Frances Perkins Academy, a high school in Brooklyn, and the School for Global Leaders, a middle school on the Lower East Side in Manhattan. The project also is working with the Facing History School on the West Side of Manhattan for the third year.

“One of the goals we have for our students is for them to become critical thinkers and informed viewers of media,” said Carry Chan, the founding principal of the School for Global Leaders. “It is our hope that the News Literacy Project will be influential in promoting awareness of media, how to effectively interpret different types of media and use various perspectives to form their own opinions.”

In Chicago, NLP has added two new schools to the four that are returning to the program for a second year. The additions are the Chicago Military Academy, a high school, and the Nightingale School, a middle school.

Located in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago’s near South Side, the Chicago Military Academy at Bronzeville (CMAB) was the first all-Junior ROTC public high school in the country when it opened in 1999. It uses the military model to prepare students for college (though most graduates do not participate in college ROTC programs or join the military).

The Nightingale School has been serving the Gage Park neighborhood since its opening in 1925. The News Literacy Project is working with 8th-grade language arts teacher Brandon Barr to help Nightingale students meet state standards in reading and writing for information.

Barr says he recognizes that “the world of news-gathering and -sharing is rapidly changing” due to the prominence of “blogs, wikis, [and] other forms of digital media that relay news in a personal format. Students need to be taught to navigate these uncharted waters with skills appropriate to the discipline and knowledge of traditional media practices. It is my hope that by partnering my classes with the News Literacy Project, my students will be fully equipped to adapt to the changing demands of the media world.”

In Bethesda, the project begins its third year in Advanced Placement government classes at Walt Whitman High School. It is also expanding to Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, working with students in English and social studies classes.

“NLP has given students the tools to distinguish fact from fiction, opinion from propaganda and how to use and produce credible information in our digital age. The instruction has helped bring an understanding of the First Amendment and an appreciation and value of a free media,” said Walt Whitman Principal Alan Goodwin. “Perhaps most importantly, NLP provides students with lifelong critical thinking skills that help make our students become more engaged citizens and better-informed voters.”