STONY BROOK, N.Y. – July 17, 2019 – At a time of unprecedented concern about the spread of false and misleading news, the Stony Brook University School of Journalism’s Center for News Literacy is bringing together 36 teachers from 15 Long Island school districts for an interactive, three-day workshop that will equip them with the skills and tools to teach the center’s proven and widely-praised News Literacy curriculum to their students – as young as 11 – this fall.
The News Literacy Summer Academy is part of a broader initiative recently launched by the center to help the region’s school districts adapt the university’s undergraduate curriculum for K-12 students. Under the program, the Long Island Institute for News Literacy Education, the center will partner with select districts to integrate News Literacy skills into required instruction and create complementary programs for parents and families.
The Academy will take place at Stony Brook University July 22-24. The academy will be led by Howard Schneider, the founder and executive director of the Center for News Literacy, and the center’s faculty.
“We are facing a public health emergency, and the solution won’t be better technology, or even more penetrating and transparent journalism, however beneficial,” Schneider said. “It will be teaching students at an early age how to interrogate news and information. It needs to start early and be reinforced in order to be effective.”
Schneider added that he hoped the new Institute will help make Long Island a leader in the state and nation in preparing the next generation of news consumers and citizens. “We have some terrific schools with innovative leaders who can lead the way,” he said.
Since the Center’s creation in 2007, its pioneering curriculum, designed to teach students how to use critical thinking skills to judge the reliability of news and information, has been taught to more than 15,000 Stony Brook students, at more than two dozen other U.S. universities and in 10 countries.
The middle school and high school educators at the Academy will hear from fellow teachers who have already utilized the center’s curriculum in their classrooms and will be welcomed by New York State Regent Roger Tilles. Jane Lytvynenko, a journalist at BuzzFeed News who reports on online disinformation, will give the keynote talk.
The participants also will have opportunity to work together to create their own News Literacy lessons that they’ll be able to bring back to their classrooms in September. The Academy was made possible, in part, by support from the Rauch Foundation and the Bethpage Federal Credit Union.
Jonathan Anzalone, assistant director of the Center for News Literacy, said he believes the Academy will generate enthusiasm among educators for News Literacy and the potential of the curriculum to have a transformative effect on student learning.
“Our hope is that participants will leave the Academy feeling as if they are part of a community and support network of News Literacy educators who will share ideas and resources, and continue to spread News Literacy and amplify its impact on students,” Anzalone said.
Funding by the Rauch Foundation also will enable the center’s new Institute to support in-depth work by two partner or “lighthouse” districts in the coming academic year. “I am very pleased to announce that Plainview-Old Bethpage will be our first partner district,” Schneider said. “We will choose a second district this fall.” Districts will receive $35,000 to support teacher training, curriculum writing, an assessment plan and development of a community program.
“Our team is excited to work alongside Stony Brook to create News literacy curriculum for students in grades 7-12, and an elective course where our high school students can earn college credit, “said Dr. Mary O’Meara, assistant superintendent for curriculum at Plainview- Old Bethpage. “This grant permits us to create a comprehensive program that also includes a parent and community component. The entire school community recognizes the timeliness of this work.”
Participants at the Academy will also hear from Dr. Sam Wineburg of Stanford University, whose research has found alarming deficits on the part of current students to evaluate reliable sources online.
Schneider noted, “The Center for News Literacy’s overarching goal is to inoculate every American school child with an initial dose of News Literacy education before they leave middle school, as a way to boost their immune system against false and misleading information.”