Social Media

October 2013

President's Message

Dear NLP Friends and Supporters,

We are pleased to announce the launch this week of our revamped website, which features new Learn Channel video lessons, a “Teachable Moments” blog and outstanding student projects.

This issue of the newsletter includes a report on the site as well as a link to an excerpt from one of our first three featured lessons. We encourage you to check it out.

We are also expanding our reach this fall and are particularly excited about the growth of our compact digital unit in schools in New York City and Chicago and the debut of our Washington, D.C., unit this school year.

This month’s profile features Mike Zimmerman, an English teacher at KIPP NYC College Prep High School, who is teaching his third news literacy unit and has worked with NLP journalists to start the high school’s first newspaper. He is also a member of NLP’s new national teacher advisory committee.

As always, we appreciate your interest and welcome your feedback.

All the best,

Alan C. Miller








Click the image to view an excerpt of Nicco Mele's video lesson about social media and the Boston Marathon bombing.

NLP Calendar

NLP’s major Washington fall event is a panel discussion on “America’s Changing Role in the World and How the Press Covers It” on Wednesday, Nov. 13, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium. Gwen Ifill, co-anchor of “PBS NewsHour” and moderator of “Washington Week,” is the moderator; the panelists are Thomas L. Friedman, foreign affairs columnist at The New York Times; Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent at NBC News and host of MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports”; and Michael Gerson, a nationally syndicated columnist with The Washington Post. Qualcomm and The Washington Post are the lead sponsors. Tickets are free; seating is limited. To reserve seats, click here. The address is 730 21st St. NW; the closest Metro stop is Foggy Bottom-GWU. For more information, call 202-994-6800.


Kristen Schorsch, a reporter for Crain's Chicago Business, listens to 7th graders at Pulaski International School in Chicago this month. Schorsch discussed interviewing with the students. Photo by Mieke Zuiderweg

NLP News
Building Support and Branching Out

We are pleased to share excellent news about rapid growth in our digital unit and about new school partners, financial support and collaborations as we continue to expand.

The build-out of our digital unit is gaining momentum in Chicago and New York, and we plan to launch our Washington, D.C., unit in December. The New York City Department of Education and Chicago Public Schools are actively promoting the program to their principals.

Twenty-six schools will be offering the unit this semester, and we will reach nearly 2,500 students — already far more than our total for the digital unit for all of last year. We expect to enlist many more schools in the second semester.

In Chicago, we have added three schools to our classroom program: Hancock High School, Westinghouse College Prep and Pulaski International School. We are exploring participation with prospective classroom and after-school partners in the District of Columbia, Montgomery County, Md., and Fairfax County, Va.

New funding will support these efforts:

  • The Robert R. McCormick Foundation has approved a two-year $400,000 grant for calendar years 2014 and 2015 to continue NLP's expansion in Chicago.
  • The Sun-Times Foundation has awarded NLP a $25,000 challenge grant; donations up to $1,000 will be fully matched through Dec. 6.
  • Qualcomm is a Platinum sponsor, at the $35,000 level, of our major fall event at George Washington University, and ABC News is a Silver sponsor at the $5,000 level. The Washington Post and Zaytinya restaurant are in-kind Platinum and Silver sponsors, respectively.

Under a separate grant from the McCormick Foundation, we will work with the Chicago Public Library in 2014 to introduce news literacy training and content to its 79 branches.

Finally, we are delighted to welcome Veronica Conforme, a vice president at the College Board, to the NLP board. A former chief operating officer of the New York City Department of Education, Veronica brings to NLP a decade of experience, in positions of increasing responsibility, in the country’s largest school system.

photo of students doing du in Chicago
Improvements to NLP's website include new resources for educators and students.

NLP Spotlight
NLP Launches New Website Featuring a Learn Channel and Video Lessons

NLP’s new website now offers teachers, librarians and youth media programs the news literacy resources that will enable them to meet the growing demand for our services.

The site features the NLP Learn Channel, a digital collection of short news literacy lessons; a blog about everyday news literacy learning opportunities that we call “Teachable Moments”; and outstanding projects done by students participating in NLP’s classroom and after-school programs and workshops.

In the coming months, we will be adding new content, including additional video lessons and a news literacy primer with resources for educators.

The site, which replaces NLP’s original site built in 2008, also features a cleaner look and provides users with a more intuitive and efficient experience.

The initial Learn Channel items include a lesson about the role of social media in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, led by Nicco Mele, a lecturer at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a pioneer in social media; an interactive computer-based lesson with NPR’s Ari Shapiro that explores what it means to be a journalist in the digital age; and a lesson on the role that misinformation shared on Twitter played during Hurricane Sandy, led by Maggie Farley, a former reporter with the Los Angeles Times.

The inaugural “Teachable Moments” blog post, by NLP founder and president Alan C. Miller, introduces this resource with an examination of a recent controversy about the authenticity of online consumer reviews. This initial entry poses important questions as individuals determine how much weight to give this kind of user-generated content in their decision-making.

NLP plans to add additional “Teachable Moments” blog items by staff, journalist volunteers and other partners as learning opportunities occur. Both the blog and the Learn Channel are intended to serve as resources to educators.

We’ll include short classroom activity plans and discussion guides with select Learn Channel and blog items to help teachers adapt the material to their classrooms.

NLP designed and developed its new site in partnership with Ancient Wisdom Productions and support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

We hope that you will take a few minutes to check it out, and we encourage you to send us your contributions for the site.

Teacher Mike Zimmerman stands in the hallway of KIPP NYC College Prep High School's newly renovated building in the Bronx. This is his third year teaching at the charter school. Photo by Elis Estrada

NLP Profile
Mike Zimmerman: Bringing Real-World Learning Into the Classroom

The first time he taught the News Literacy Project’s “Information Neighborhoods” lesson to the 10th and 11th graders in his elective journalism and news literacy class at KIPP NYC College Prep High School in New York, Mike Zimmerman told his students that they would be watching a series of videos on the killing of Osama bin Laden.

“Wait a minute: Osama bin Laden is dead?” his students asked.

“Wait a minute: You didn’t know that?” Zimmerman responded.

It had been several months since the widely reported killing of the al-Qaeda leader by U.S. Navy SEALs, but somehow his students hadn’t gotten the word. So instead of proceeding with the lesson, Zimmerman went to Google News to look at May 1, 2011. The date showed a spike in searches related to bin Laden.

“Huh, I wonder what happened on this date?” he asked his students. “Let’s click on it … He was killed.”

That was just over a year ago, and now those same students, having moved on from Zimmerman’s class, still swing by his office to chat about the day’s news and collect a free copy of The New York Times provided through NLP.

“I think there is something almost addicting about being in the know and being able to converse about these things intelligently,” said Zimmerman, who is teaching his third session of the semester-long class developed in partnership with NLP.

“Kids are starting to see that news is a part of the adult world that they want to be involved in. They’re able to connect with it and understand it, and they want to discuss what’s going on.”

Julissa Bernabe, a 10th grader in Zimmerman’s class, agrees. “The class has opened my eyes to realize what goes on around me and my community,” she said.

Zimmerman, 28, has seen his students work with NLP journalists to launch and publish three issues of the school’s first newspaper, The Growler.

The paper had an immediate impact. After it published an article about the student government’s lack of initiative and responsiveness, members of the student council opened the group’s next meeting by reading the piece aloud and discussing how they could address the problems.

Zimmerman cites the visits by NLP journalist fellows as a highlight for his students, including a session with Nancy Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers’ Middle East bureau chief, who Skyped in from Cairo. But he says having Barney Calame, a former Wall Street Journal deputy managing editor, provide feedback on early drafts of The Growler was particularly special.

“It was amazing for me and equally amazing for the kids to have someone of that stature give them feedback on what they produce,” he said. "They took his feedback way more seriously then they take mine.”

Overall, Zimmerman, who has a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Teachers College, said NLP’s curriculum “fits like a lock and key” with his students.

“The News Literacy Project has been invaluable,” he said. “Helpful for planning and executing instruction, bringing real-world experience into the classroom, and motivating students to create the school’s first newspaper while becoming journalists and watchful news consumers themselves.”

THE NEWS LITERACY PROJECT (NLP) is an innovative national educational program that mobilizes seasoned journalists and works with educators to help middle school and high school students sort fact from fiction in the digital age.

Click here to learn more about NLP and visit NLP's YouTube channel.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to support NLP, you can do so here.

NLP thanks its major funders and all those whose support makes our program possible.

Copyright (c) 2013 The News Literacy Project. All rights reserved.

The News Literacy Project
5525 Devon Road
Bethesda, MD 20814


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