Reading/Language Arts: Bias in News and Popular Media
by Ryn Lewis
This project was individually developed for a School
Library Media Center class. It required the creation of a collaborative
unit for a core content area teacher and the school library media
specialist, utilizing library materials and information resources. All
materials included in the project were created in Microsoft Word and
converted in Paint Shop Pro X2.
INFORMATION LITERACY SKILLS OBJECTIVES:
AASL STANDARDS FOR THE 21ST-CENTURY LEARNER:
think critically, and gain knowledge: 1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.1.5, 1.1.7, 1.1.9,
1.2.4, 1.3.2, 1.4.2.
conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations,
and create new knowledge: 2.1.1, 2.1.6, 2.2.4, 2.3.1,
knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our
democratic society: 3.1.1, 3.1.4, 3.2.3
CURRICULUM (SUBJECT AREA) OBJECTIVES: GRADE LEVELS: 8 – 10
ACADEMIC CONTENT STANDARDS / ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS
Reading Applications: Informational, Technical and
Persuasive Text Standard
Topic B: Students will:
published works for adequate and accurate details
bias and faulty logic used as a persuasive technique
Communications: Oral and Visual Standard
Topic B: Students will:
messages of speakers and writers in news and popular media.
the credibility of speakers/writers and identify bias and faulty logic
used in publications.
teaching bias and faulty logic
(Silly poems about the bad things of school are an easy
introduction to bias.)
B. & S. Carpenter. (2004). If Kids Ruled the School. New York:
B. & S. Carpenter. (1997). No
More Homework, No More Tests. New
S. (2004). Where the Sidewalk Ends.
B. (2002). Bias. Washington, D.C.:
(While this lesson does not explicitly teach persuasion in
advertising, ads often contain good examples to begin helping students
understand bias and faulty logic.)
News and Media sites
to Windows Movie Maker
Music and Sound Files
The language arts teacher begins the unit with 1-2 days of
classroom instruction on bias. The next
2-3 days are spent in the library media center, where the librarian teaches or
reviews the purpose behind giving credit to outside work. The teacher and librarian work together with
students to assist their initial research, collection of articles, and credits
pages. The teacher will teach persuasive
techniques and logical fallacies in the classroom over the next several days as
students analyze their articles.
Students will then return to the library media center; the librarian and
teacher will co-teach presentation techniques, and the librarian will teach and
support technology skills for student-created videos. Both the librarian and the teacher will
assist students as they complete their video projects. At the end of the unit, students may present
their projects in the library media center or the classroom depending on
available space and technology.
ACTIVITIES AND PROCEDURES FOR COMPLETION:
Students will come to the library media center on the third
day of the unit. During the first two
days, the teacher has introduced the concepts of bias and slant and
demonstrated them to the students in as many forms as possible, including news
and popular media articles, both print and nonprint. Teacher should also introduce the first part
of the bias project, in which students select one event that has occurred
within the last six months or is occurring currently. They will research this event, finding six to
ten Web publications from different sources that discuss it. Students will then be analyzing these sources
for possible biases. Topics can be
current news events, political events or controversial events in popular
media. For example, in the past two
years, students may have chosen to examine material surrounding the
McCain/Obama Presidential election or LeBron James’s decision to leave Cleveland for Miami.
with the students times when they did not receive credit or someone else
received the credit for something good they had done. Have students share results,
consequences and their feelings about such scenarios. Include discussion
about what happens when people take credit for work that is not theirs in
school and the possible consequences.
Chart feelings and consequences on chart paper for display in the
library during the project.
student experiences to the idea that as writers and producers of work to
share, it is important to give credit to work they use that was created by
others. Have students discuss why
it might be important and the possible consequences of not doing so. Continue charting responses.
that for the purposes of this project, they will simply need to give
credit to the sources for the articles they find. To do that, they will
build a credits page on their computers as they do their research. Have students sit at their computers and
open a prepared credits page template (Fig. 1), which should be on the
desktop. Demonstrate how to copy
and paste a URL and enter an article name from a Web site.
available a digital list of links for news and professional popular media
sites such as CNN, Sports Illustrated and People. Remind students that their sources must
come from professional news or media sites; they cannot be personal Web
sites. Students should work with a
partner on the same topic, but each must find at least three unique
articles for a minimum total of six.
and librarian support students in researching, downloading, and recording
Web sites. Students should save all
articles to a Google.docs site or flash disk, including video media, and
should print copies of articles for classroom use.
Days 4 – 6 will be spent in the classroom. The language arts teacher will have students
work with partners to analyze articles and media for any signs of bias, slant
or hidden agendas. Students should log
their findings on a worksheet (Fig. 2).
Teacher should also teach at least one day on major types of fallacious
reasoning, and students will examine their article to record any examples of
these as well (Fig. 3). The second part of the project will be introduced,
which is the objective reporting video.
Students will take all the information they found and become objective
reporters. They will create a short
video presentation about the issue they have researched. The video should fairly address all sides of
the issue discovered by the student and be as neutral as possible, free from
bias or faulty logic. Students will
process their movies with a video editing program such as Windows Movie Maker
and may include images from their articles or clips from videos they found, so
long as they present the story fairly as a whole. Students will end the presentation with a
rolling credits log which credits all sources used in the making of their
DAY 7 - 12
the elements of the project with students and chart them for easy
reference during the work time. The
librarian and teacher should also brainstorm and have students demonstrate
appropriate presentation techniques, such as volume and rate. Students must complete, at minimum, the
a video. This can be done in any
format, but should include some outline of the issue being presented and
how all sides will be addressed.
It should also include space and time for outside visual or audio
elements that will be inserted later.
and rehearse a script. Both
partners should participate in the filming of the video.
presentation against a blank wall.
video editing software to insert captions and other textual information,
music if desired, still images and video clips, and credits.
students must first storyboard their videos and draft their scripts. When they are finished, they should have
their work reviewed by the teacher or the librarian. Once they have received an approval,
they may sign up to film their projects.
The teacher will be at the filming station to assist students in
filming their projects. Students
who are waiting to film may begin working with the library media
specialist to construct their video projects.
the beginning of Day 8, the library media specialist should have all
students sit at computers and give a hands-on overview of the basic tools
in their video editing software.
The library media specialist will give students a basic overview of
the video editing software at their library media center and will assist
students as needed during their project creation. The librarian should also have resources
on hand such as written tutorials, Web links or video links to help
students find quick answers to common software questions.
will work in the library media center for the next 3-5 days to complete
will present their projects to the class.
After each video, the audience should have the opportunity to voice
positive critiques and questions.
Audience members should particularly watch for signs of bias or
faulty logic in the reporter’s narrative and be prepared to offer
constructive ideas for improvement.
FIGURE 1: EXAMPLE CREDITS LOG
FIGURE 2: EXAMPLE BIAS WORKSHEET
FIGURE 3: FAULTY LOGIC LOG
sample videos to class Web site or library Web site for the students,
administration, and community.
Showcase samples at Literacy nights and parent open houses.
unit on persuasive techniques in advertising can easily precede or follow
After presenting their projects, students should complete a
self-assessment to reflect on the work they did (Fig. 4). Student assessment will be a combination of
student self-assessments, partner assessments (included in self-assessment),
video presentations, and bias and logic logs/analyses. Students should have a
folder with a checklist in it for all major project components (Fig. 5). Students will turn the folder in when they
present their videos.
FIGURE 4: EXAMPLE STUDENT SELF ASSESSMENT
FIGURE 5: PROJECT CHECKLIST
Effective teachers always take the time to reflect on their
lessons – successes and areas for improvement.
Teachers and librarians should take the time to reflect on the project
together. The following set of questions
may be helpful in assisting both teachers and librarians to critically examine
the results of this unit and improve upon it in future implementations.
went well on this project? What
concepts did the students grasp readily?
were the trouble spots in concept learning (i.e. bias and faulty
logic)? What were common confusions
of the students?
can I address these better next time?
resources worked particularly well?
Which ones received a positive response?
resources did not work as well or frustrated/confused students?
additional resources might be useful in teaching this lesson?
went well on this project? What
areas were the students already comfortable with?
problems did the students encounter with the technology that caused
difficulties or slowdowns?
solutions can be found to make the process flow more smoothly?
resources did I have on hand to assist the students in using
technology? Which ones were
else would have been useful to assist them?
well were the students engaged?
might have been the cause of any disruptions or lack of engagement?
can I address those issues next time?
Time and Quality
the time allotted enough to complete the project? If not, should the time be extended next
elements of the project, if any, should be changed or cut for scheduling
was the overall quality of students’ final products?
- Is it
acceptable to me? If not, what
should I change or address next time to improve it?
the project overall worth taking the instruction time to complete?
did my students learn?
this project the most effective way to teach these concepts to my
students? If not, can I modify the project to make it more effective?
the amount of time spent on this project appropriate in the long term, or
should I spend more/less time on these concepts in the future?
will I modify this project to meet overall year goals for students in the
©2010 Ryn Lewis