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NLP's New NewsLitCamps Bring Teachers To Newsrooms For Innovative Professional Development

Peter Adams, NLP, NewsLitCamp, professional development
Imagine a space where educators, journalists and news literacy experts can work together to find the most effective ways to teach students how to know what to believe.

We’ve created just such a space.

Welcome to NLP’s NewsLitCamp, where educators from some of the country’s biggest school districts, including Chicago, New York City and Miami, are getting a first-hand introduction to news literacy, along with tools they can use their classrooms.

In these day-long professional development sessions, teachers and librarians at middle schools and high schools visit a news outlet in their city for training with journalists from that newsroom and our staff.

The workshops combine elements from traditional professional development programming with the more flexible, teacher-directed “edcamp” model. Educators tell us what topics they’re interested in and what they would like to take back to their schools from the training. We then work with journalists from the host news organization to create workshops that fit their requests.

“I now have a much better and concrete understanding of how to help students use their critical-thinking skills to get through our digital world,” said Danielle Lewis, a middle school librarian at the United Nations International School in New York City, who attended our NewsLitCamp at Time Inc. headquarters in August.

We start the day with an explanation of the importance of news literacy for students — an opportunity for participants to learn the core skills and concepts of news literacy education. They then attend specialized breakout sessions designed to demystify the news-gathering process and explain the standards of quality journalism. They might examine specific coverage areas, such as education or crime, or more general topics, such as the role of social media in disseminating news. Our goal for each NewsLitCamp is to develop teachers’ and librarians' news literacy education skills and introduce them to specialized resources for teaching news literacy.

Feedback on these sessions has been overwhelmingly positive. “Best PD ever” was one teacher’s tweet about our first event, which included more than 90 teachers and school librarians at the Chicago Sun-Times in April. In New York City, 89 percent of survey respondents reported a high level of satisfaction with the training and said that what they had learned would be helpful in their teaching.

Heather Van Benthuysen, Chicago Public Schools’ manager of civic education, helped to organize the day at the Sun-Times.

“This was truly a unique experience ... that has left a lasting impact,” she wrote us. “Feedback from teachers was overwhelmingly positive, and left them realizing the importance of news literacy instruction, and gave them some tools to implement.”  

More than 80 teachers from the Miami-Dade County Public Schools participated in the third NewsLitCamp at the Miami Herald on Oct. 2.

“Peter was an incredible bastion of knowledge and had a teacher-like sensibility for the delivery of his content,” said Laura Ortega, one of the teachers who attended the Miami session.

NewsLitCamps are part of our expanded suite of professional development sessions, which include the three-part “Teaching News Literacy” series. For information about scheduling a NewsLitCamp in your area, contact Damaso Reyes, director of community partnerships and engagement, at damasoreyes@thenewsliteracyproject.org.