Suburban freshmen get crash courses in media literacy

Illinois high schools will need offer a media literacy course in 2022. It is the first state to require these classes to be taught, but some schools are already teaching the skills in all classes.

Naperville’s Neuqua Valley High School has been working with media education researchers and experts from the Stanford History Education Group to integrate it with their freshmen since before the pandemic.

Adrianne Toomey teaches first year biology at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville. She couldn’t have guessed, when she started mainstreaming media education, that identifying health and science misinformation would become as important inside and outside the room. class.

Some would expect that, because teens are so familiar with social media, they’ll be good at fact-checking as well, but Toomey says that’s not the case at all, especially at first.

“They weren’t doing a good job at all. Even my smartest kids would say things like, “Well, they wear scrubs, they must be doctors.”

The program is called Civic reasoning online. They teach how to rate media using strategies such as ‘side reading’, where students open a new tab and leave a video to find more information about the source. Toomey’s students even checked in by checking the facts on social media using a tool called ‘Screencastify’.

“My favorite activity was the videos on how they checked out their different TikToks. Yeah, that was so good for me, because I could see inside their brains. It was a great example of metacognition.

Overall, she says, they were much better at picking up disinformation at the end of the year. But she adds that it will take a lot more practice in all subjects to make media literacy second nature to them.

But she says having buy-in from every teacher makes it a lot more transparent. Neuqua Valley is expanding media education to more courses this year, including physical education and health.

Copyright 2021 WNIJ Public Radio North. To see more, visit Northern Public Radio WNIJ.

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