District Administration June 2017 - 46

CURRICULUM ROUNDUP

USE THE NEWS
Gertler, co-founder and chief academic officer of the Achieve3000 literacy platform.
"These sources of informational text can
move students from the basics of reading
comprehension to the higher-order, evaluative skills," Gertler says. "The beauty of
using news is that it crosses multiple disciplines-for this reason, engagement is virtually assured by the wide variety of topics
from which to choose."

GOOD REASONS TO READ-Current news events give students, such as these
two from New York City, an extra incentive to read regularly because they are
more captivated by the content, educators say.

INFORMED SKEPTICS: IS IT TIME
TO REQUIRE MEDIA LITERACY?
The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), which helps schools
find resources to teach the subject, is among several organizations campaigning for
state bills that would mandate media literacy instruction in public schools.
"The goal is not to create cynical people who don't trust anything-it's about
creating informed skeptics," says Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, NAMLE's executive director.
"The core is prompting learners of all ages to think critically and immediately ask, 'Oh,
how do you know that's true?'"
Florida and Ohio already require schools to integrate media literacy into regular
instruction. Minnesota has made it a part of the Common Core standards while
Washington is developing a funding system to bring media literacy to all schools.
Model legislation-developed with Media Literacy Now, Common Sense Kids
Action and the Digital Citizenship Institute-can be found at DAmag.me/ml and is
being considered in several state houses, including in Arizona, California, Connecticut,
Massachusetts, New Mexico and New York.
Many of these measures have received bipartisan support, says Erin McNeill,
president of Media Literacy Now. Because students spend so much time online and in
front of screens, media literacy seems particularly relevant and current to them-and
can therefore be far more engaging than other lessons, McNeill says.
"Teachers are finally talking to them about things that are in their lives and that
really matter to them," McNeill says of media literacy lessons. "The fake news crisis
is an opportunity to launch a bigger movement around recognizing what teaching
literacy in the 21st century means."

46 June 2017

'Controversy happens'
At Middle School 322 in New York City,
sixth-graders read news articles to build
general fluency and also to develop deeper
levels of comprehension, says ELA teacher
Becky Camhi.
"We're teaching them how to be good
readers but also to be thinkers," Camhi
says. "If they're reading a news article that
makes them wonder what it's like to be a
scientist working in Antarctica, it sparks
more inquisitive types of questions-news
articles lend themselves to that."
Camhi doesn't block her students from
reading controversial stories. She wants
them to consider all sides of an issue, and
learn to delve into the gray areas that exist
in many situations. News articles also link
different academic subjects: When students
study environmental issues in science, for
instance, they can read the latest reporting
on pollution and endangered species in
language arts. Reading also helps students
develop a healthy skepticism, she says.
"We read nonfiction to make comparisons to our own lives, to figure out what the
author is trying to teach us and what their
bias is," she says. "Once we start teaching
those skills, the students look at everything
with this sideways glance."
On a more basic level, the daily nature
of news helps students develop the critical habit of reading every day, says Todd
Brekhus, president of the myON literacy
platform. Readers of myON's digital books
now have access to student-oriented news
articles written and reported by a company
called News-O-Matic. The new service is
called myON News. "Lessons are so much
more interesting if you have daily information," Brekhus says. "Your textbook could
be seven years old."
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