Students will be able to:
- Understand the rights and responsibilities of news/media consumers and news/media producers
- Reflect on why these rights and responsibilities are essential in this age of increased digital access to media
- Build awareness around the issue of "fake news" online and strengthen critical thinking skills in relation to media consumption
- What are the rights and responsibilities of a news consumer?
- Why is it important for media and news producers to meet certain standards?
- What constitutes "fake news," and how can consumers assess the validity and reliability of sources?
- Copies of PEN America's News Consumers' Bill of Rights for students
- Copies of articles: Teen Vogue's "5 Steps to Improve Your Media Literacy" and NPR's "A Finder's Guide to Facts"
- Pencils and pens
- Paper or student notebooks
Consumer [kən-so͞o-mər] (noun) a person who purchases goods and services for personal use
Right [rīt] (noun) a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way
Responsibility [rə-spän-sə-bil-ə-tē] (noun) a thing that one is required to do as part of a job, role or legal obligation
Bill [bil] (noun) an itemized list or a statement of particulars; a written document or note
sources: Google Dictionary, merriam-webster.com
This is one of a two-lesson series designed to help students explore the content and contemplate the impact of PEN America's News Consumers' Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. The other lesson in this series is listed under "Related Resources."
This lesson focuses on the concept of "fake news" and the responsibilities of news and media creators and consumers. Students will explore PEN America's News Consumers' Bill of Rights and Responsibilities and read an article about "fake news" that presents strategies on how to approach digital sources. They will reflect on why ensuring content creators and consumers meet certain standards is especially important in relation to claims of "fake news" and the increasing tendency toward uncritical consumption of media.
1. Before you begin, make sure all students have notebooks they can use to record their observations throughout the lesson.
2. To warm up, ask students to define in their own words the terms consumer, right, responsibility and bill. (See the vocabulary section for dictionary definitions of these terms.) Prompt a few students to share their definitions.
3. Instruct students to add the vocabulary terms consumer, right, responsibility and bill to their notebooks.
4. Explain to students that they will be reflecting on the rights and responsibilities of media and news consumers and producers. Ask students to think about why it is important that people who create news and media content meet certain standards and why consumers should be aware of these standards.
5. Provide students with copies of PEN America's News Consumers' Bill of Rights. Engage students in a class reading of the bill. As students explore the rights and responsibilities outlined in the bill, facilitate a class discussion. Possible guiding questions can include the following:
- As a consumer of news/media, what rights do you think are most important and why?
- Which responsibilities of news producers or media content creators are most important and why?
- As a consumer of news/media, what do you think your responsibilities should be? What do you consider when assessing the validity or reliability of a source online? Describe your approach.
- Is there anything missing from the bill that you think would be important to add?
- How might a person determine if a source online is "fake"? Is it challenging to determine if a source is "fake"? Why or why not? Share any experiences you have had with "fake news" or unreliable sources.
6. Inform students that they will have the opportunity to read an article about "fake news" and how to responsibly approach sources. Group students into pairs. They can choose one article from two possibilities: Teen Vogue's "5 Steps to Improve Your Media Literacy" or NPR's "A Finder's Guide to Facts." (Note: For differentiation, the NPR article is a more challenging read.) After students finish reading, have pairs discuss three writing prompts and respond in writing in their notebooks:
- Summarize the main points from the article in your own words.
- Why is ensuring media/news creators meet certain standards especially important in an age when people claim news is fake or consume news without a critical eye simply because it is published online?
- What is one important takeaway you have from the article? What will you do with (or how will you apply) this takeaway moving forward?
7. If students finish early and have access to a device and the internet, have them practice their "fake news" detection skills by playing the game Factitious , which provides students with sample articles to critically assess. They must determine whether each article is "fake" or from a valid, reliable source and reflect on which factors influenced their decision.
8. Engage students in a class discussion around the second and third writing prompts related to their article; ask them to share their responses and build on one another's thoughts.
9. Encourage students to continue building their critical media literacy skills by practicing some of the strategies suggested in the articles and being mindful of the responsibilities included in the bill.
10. Optional: For homework, students can read the article they did not have a chance to read in class. Ask them to summarize the main points and share their thoughts, reactions and any questions in a written response. Other possible resources for further reading and exploration are included with this lesson in the Related Resources section.
Alignment to Common Core State Standards
Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.