If you are seeking a new and creative medialit resource — for home or school learning — take some time to discover and explore the Today’s Front Pages exhibit on display at the Newseum in Washington, DC. Visitors to the city can set aside a block of time to visit the Newseum itself, but those who don’t have time for a longer visit can still check out the front pages on the sidewalk in front of the Newseum (for free).
In this age of fake news, one of today’s challenges for educators and parents is guiding young people toward an understanding of what it means to be an informed citizen.
An important responsibility is helping children, pre-adolescents, and teens learn how to identify news sources and writing that come from responsible journalistic sources.
Months before the 2016 election former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton penned a thoughtful commentary, Social Media Challenges Democracy, considering what is required of an informed citizen, and predicted — intentionally or otherwise — some of the questions about news consumption that citizens have asked since November 2016. It’s an excellent discussion resource for educators and others who work with youth groups.
Media and news literacy skills are critical for people who seek to become strong citizens. The above definition aptly describes the meaning of media literacy. Unfortunately, the Media Literacy Project, where this graphic came from, closed its doors in 2015.
As an educator, parent, and grandparent, I’m heartbroken about the increase in hateful and offensive activities that so many children have witnessed, front and center, during the long months of the 2016 presidential campaign. Just how do we talk to kids when they’ve observed and heard so much?
I ask this question because we parents and educators know the actions to take (where to help and support others, places to volunteer, etc.), the values we want to model (kindness, respect, honoring differences, integrity), and the civics concepts that we need to be certain our students understand — but our task will far more difficult in the 2016 post-election world.
Our traditional expectations for civility and ethical behavior are cracking apart right before our eyes.
On the basis of what’s happened at recent political conventions and the beginning of the election season, young people will be witnessing name-calling, stereotyping, hateful comments, online hate, and in some cases veiled bodily threats. Kids will hear things on TV at home and on the televisions that are broadcasting in lounges, waiting rooms, doctor’s offices, and everywhere else. They will hear radios broadcasting the news at home and in other peoples’ homes. And, of course, there’s social media.
When she retired as a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor could have headed to the golf course or just relaxed. But she did not. Instead, she started an educational organization, iCivics, and she has been instrumental in the release and promotion of that group’s free video games — 19 of them!
iCivics is a non-profit founded by Justice O’Connor, and its goal is to “empower teachers and prepare the next generation of 21st Century students to become knowledgeable and engaged citizens.” Readthe iCivics story.
The organization has also created video games along with lesson plans and resource materials that aim to fill in the gaps in students’ civics education. Unfortunately, the subject has often fallen by the wayside in many schools, so the focus of the games is to help kids learn about the different branches of government and about their responsibilities as citizens. The games encourage figuring out and solving problems rather than simply memorizing information. Continue reading “iCivics: Sandra Day O’Connor is a Video Game Entrepreneur”→