Educators from all over the country showed us how they bring civics to their classrooms with Newsela’s #OurVoiceOurChoice photo contest. Our staff had a tough time choosing winners among entries that showed such creativity and enthusiasm, but after polling the company, these submissions came out on top:
For the past two weeks, students across the country – and around the world – had an unprecedented opportunity to make their voices heard with Newsela’s Students Vote 2016. The polls have closed and the ballots have been tallied, and we’re ready to reveal the results.
Hillary Clinton won decisively, with 57% of students for Clinton vs. 32% for Donald Trump. Clinton won most swing states, but Trump maintained his hold on Ohio. Among our student voters, Clinton took some Republican strongholds such as Texas, Georgia, and even South Carolina. And while younger students overwhelmingly chose Clinton, it was a much closer race for high school students.
Here are a few highlights from Students Vote 2016:
Over 1 million students read at least 1 election-related article this year. This one was viewed the most.
Nearly 400,000 students cast their ballots on Newsela. The cities with the most votes were Chicago, IL; Portland, OR; and San Jose, CA.
Over 16,000 schools in all 50 states participated in Students Vote 2016.
During election season, many people will give these descriptions to news media they disagree with.
Similarly, these flaws are easy to overlook in the sources you like or tend to agree with. What’s worse, however, is not thinking about these issues at all. Whether in election news or any other topic, it’s important to be aware of how the news is produced and how you perceive it.
At the American Press Institute (API), we put energy into helping news readers of any age understand and evaluate the news they encounter. In our work with youth and media, we generally recommend six basic questions that can be asked about the news you encounter:
1. Type: What kind of content is this — news, opinion, advertising or something else?
2. Source: Who and what are the sources cited, and why should I believe them?
3. Evidence: What’s the evidence and how was it vetted?
4. Interpretation: Is the main point of the piece backed up by the evidence?
5. Completeness: What’s missing?
6. Knowledge: Is there an issue here that I want to learn more about, and where can I do that?
We are excited to partner with Newsela to offer a way for teachers to begin some of these thoughtful media literacy discussions with their students. Newsela has created an election Text Set that focuses squarely on media literacy. Every article in the set uses some of API’s six questions as Annotations to encourage critical thinking — and teachers can use some, or all, of the six questions to guide classroom discussion.
In this example, asking about the sourcing can help students think critically about who is conveying the information. It likewise can lead to meaningful classroom conversation on how a source came to his or her conclusions, and what motivations he or she might have that could influence what they say.
Teachers can also access other media literacy tips by viewing Newsela’s media literacy toolkit. We’ll be holding a joint-webinar with Newsela on Tuesday, October 25, at 6 pm EDT, two weeks before the presidential election, to show teachers how to introduce these concepts in the classroom.
We can’t think of a better time to emphasize media literacy than election season. These resources ensure that any student, no matter his or her reading level, is equipped with the necessary tools to analyze the media and its messages. And once students are better able to evaluate media based on reliability and accuracy, they’ll be able to apply these skills beyond the classroom for years to come.
Katie Kutsko is the American Press Institute’s primary coordinator of youth news literacy programs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a student, it’s important to keep up with major discoveries and world news. Recently, a ton has been happening in politics in the U.S. because we are in a presidential election year. The great thing is, Newsela covers it all so we can read and understand what is happening!
Newsela has amazing articles about politics. One of my class’ stations in reading is the Newsela station. Our teacher, Mrs. Ruane, recently recommended that we read articles from the Vote 2016 Text Set with partners.
When I partner up, discussing the political situations we read together help not just my quiz scores, but also how I think about politics. Recently, Hillary Clinton won the Nevada Democratic caucus and Donald Trump won the South Carolina Republican primary.
In class, I partnered up with my friend, Nikita. She and I discussed who we thought was going to win the Democratic race and the Republican race. Personally, I think Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are going to make it to the presidential election in November. As we read and talked, we noticed the ways Trump and Clinton slowly worked their way to their recent victories. We are really excited to see the turnout of the 2016 presidential race and, without the Newsela articles, I don’t think I would even understand what was going on.
As you can see, the election is really important because whoever will lead our country will affect our lives immensely. It’s important to pick the right candidate. I encourage students all over to discuss and think about the election, because sooner or later you will be officially voting, too. Two ways you can start now is to read about the election and politics on Newsela, and vote in the Students Vote 2016 program on Newsela!
Over the last two weeks, at almost any point during our reading block, you could walk in and hear students involved in heated but respectful conversations. Reading, annotating, and discussing Newsela articles is a normal part of our reading block. As a part of this routine, we have been working all year on how to discuss an article before, during, and after reading it.
Students select a partner to read with and then select an article to collaborate on. They begin by reading and annotating the article independently. After the first read, they discuss together with a focus on their annotations, questions they each had, and vocabulary they need to clarify. The last step they take is to complete the Newsela quiz questions together. This routine is a favorite and, even though I only require them to complete this with one article each week, students often read, discuss, and quiz on multiple stories. Introducing my crew to Students Vote 2016 on Newsela was a no-brainer!
We kicked off Students Vote 2016 by watching the Brainpop movie “Primaries and Caucuses”. This opened up a great discussion; many students had already read about the Iowa caucus as well as other articles on Newsela about the presidential election. After the discussion, I shared the Brainpop game, “Win the White House”, which immediately got the students engaged. They were primed and wanted more information. This led perfectly to introducing the Election Text Set on Newsela.
Currently, we are entrenched in reading about the election and the conversations are fantastic. I am most impressed with how well the students are doing at disagreeing respectfully. Students are naturally using discussion stems for disagreeing, affirming, and holding the floor – advanced conversational turns that some adults still struggle with.
Through these discussions they have seen their quiz scores soar and truly understand how we select our presidential candidates. My fifth graders completely agree that understanding civic literacy should not wait until they turn 18 and they can’t wait to Rock the Vote as New Jersey holds its primary.
Victoria Ruane is a fifth grade educator in Edison Township schools. Stay tuned later this week as one of her students gives her take on Students Vote 2016 in the classroom!