Strategies for Teaching News Literacy Skills

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Overview and Purpose

“We were guaranteed a free press,  We were not guaranteed a neutral or a true press. We can celebrate the journalistic freedom to publish without interference from the state.  We can also celebrate our freedom to share multiple stories through multiple lenses. But it has always been up to the reader or viewer to make the reliability and credibility decisions.  It is up to the reader or viewer to negotiate truth.” (Joyce Valenza)

Please consider the following:

  • 96% of U.S. high school students surveyed failed to challenge the credibility of an unreliable source. (Stanford History Education Group, 2019).
  • 68% of students couldn’t tell the difference between news and “sponsored content” (advertising) on a news site’s homepage.​ (Stanford History Education Group, 2019).
  • 59% ​of Americans ​say it is hard to identify false information — intentionally misleading and inaccurate stories portrayed as truth — on social media. (NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll, January 2020)

With the advent of smartphones and other new technology, the news is always at our fingertips. Knowing how to understand and interpret the information you receive from such devices is a valuable skill. And being able to identify misinformation, or conversely, a reliable source is a 21st-century skill that is becoming increasingly in demand.

This course aims to teach educators what news literacy is as well as some of the core tenants of teaching media literacy skills to students. This course aims to arm educators with strategies they can take back to their own classrooms and teach news literacy skills to their students within the context of their everyday lessons.

Needs Assessment

As evidenced by the statistics mentioned above, the issue isn't from the participants (educators) not having news literacy skills, the issue stems from the students they teach not having news literacy skills. The needs assessment of the participants of this course is more attitude based rather than skill-based.

The participants of this mini-course are looking to gain insights into news literacy teaching strategies and how to integrate them into their current daily teaching practices. Participants should have at least an awareness of the term “fake news” and how it has seemingly changed the culture of the news and media industry. Participants should understand the importance of having students read unbiased sources of information and having them recognize when a source is biased.

Participants will come to this mini-course with various backgrounds in teaching as this mini-course does not target one specific subject area or grade level. Some participants may already be including some media literacy content in their lessons but want to know more about news literacy specifically, while others may just be starting out. It is okay on any part of the continuum as this course gives an overview of some media literacy content before diving into news literacy content specifically.  

Performance Objectives

This course aims to teach participants the importance of including news literacy skills in their lessons and curriculum development practices.

  • Learners will demonstrate knowledge of news literacy terminology
  • Learners will become aware of the benefits of integrating news literacy skills into lessons
  • Learners will be able to lead students through analyzing news and media via critical thinking/questioning skills
  • Learners will be able to adapt a content-specific news literacy teaching strategy into their everyday teaching style

Course Units

This mini-course includes the following units. Click the title of a unit to go to its page.

Unit 1: Defining News Literacy

Brief Overview: The participant will be presented with a glossary of news literacy terminology and will read and learn why news literacy is important to teach. The participant will hear firsthand from students about their experiences with media literacy education as well as their experiences with poor news literacy skills. The participant will be asked to create their own definition of news literacy and articulate why it is important to teach.

Unit 2: Identifying News Literacy Skills

Unit Overview: The participant will be presented with the list of NAMLE categories and sample questions and will learn how these can be applied to a news article/piece of news media. The participant will be tasked with writing their own questions dependent on the NAMLE categories and a provided news article. The participant will also be asked to classify given questions into the NAMLE categories.

Unit 3: Incorporating Skills into My Teaching

Brief Overview: The participant will be presented with a list of resources of teaching strategies and lesson plan samples of news literacy curricula in the content areas. The participant will be asked to explore these and then come up with their own ideas on how to incorporate the skills into their everyday teaching. As a culminating project for the course, participants are tasked with creating a lesson plan that features a news literacy skill, and they are asked to teach the lesson and then reflect on the experience.

Extended Resources

Common Sense Education: News Literacy Resources for Classrooms

Civic Online Reasoning

Crash Course: Navigating Digital Information

News Literacy Project



PBS Learning Media: News and Media Literacy