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The News Literacy Project Expands in Chicago

Building on a successful pilot program in late 2009, the News Literacy Project is growing in Chicago this year, expanding its presence in the pilot school and adding two new middle schools.

It is now active in extended-day programs as well as in the classroom.

After completing a 6th-grade pilot at the Marquette School in December, the project plans to also work with 7th- and 8th-grade students there this spring. The two new schools are the Calumet campus of Perspectives Charter Schools and the Reavis School in the Grand Boulevard community.

All three Chicago schools are working with LISC-Chicago, the News Literacy Project’s local partner. The McCormick Foundation is the project’s major funder in Chicago; the Chicago Tribune Foundation has also provided financial support.

The expansion into 7th and 8th grades at Marquette marks the project’s first interdisciplinary approach to its curriculum. English and social science teachers plan to collaborate on the unit, with each focusing on those elements of the project’s curriculum that fit their respective subject matter. This approach will allow for greater flexibility for teachers to integrate the News Literacy Project activities and journalist presentations with their subject matter.

At Perspectives Middle School in Calumet, the project is teaming with teacher Eron Powell to introduce the NLP curriculum to the entire 8th grade, and is also partnering with another faculty member, Traci Norman, to improve and expand the school’s newspaper, The Warrior News. ELEV8, an Atlantic Philanthropies-funded program that provides integrated services, including health care and after-school opportunities, is a partner in this initiative. ELEV8 site director Tenisha Jones describes the News Literacy Project as “an immense opportunity” that will give students real-world learning experiences and help them “gain confidence in their skills by working with journalists who are in the field daily.”

The Reavis extended-day program kicks off Feb. 17. NLP will partner with humanities teacher Miles Wieting on a two-month course on news literacy. After students learn the basic elements of journalism and use these concepts in activities, they will work with volunteer journalist fellows to create a final project that demonstrates engagement and understanding.

“I am so excited about the News Literacy Project being a part of the ELEV8 enrichment programs at Reavis,” said ELEV8 site director Syda Segovia-Taylor. She said the program would permit students to use their talents to “help the community move forward” while revealing “the reporters, journalists, and scribes of Reavis.” The “experience of sharing their voices and thoughts with others” will also open the door to journalism as “a potential career path,” she said.