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Eighth grade current events teachers Jeremiah Feather and Jackie Scherer are committed to helping their students learn to become discerning consumers of information. “We are all heavily exposed to a range of information—including misinformation and disinformation—and students are receiving a lot of it through social media,” says Jeremiah. “It’s important that they learn how to take a critical approach when developing their understanding of a piece of information, and not to believe everything that comes through their feed.”
Jackie and Jeremiah use resources like the News Literacy Project, which offers dynamic modules and quizzes that help students assess the purpose of the information and whether the information they are consuming is sound. “We talk about the role of citizen watch dogs, about the media, the government, and how they all work together,” explains Jeremiah.
Students are also learning how to bridge divides when in conversation with a person who has a different perspective on an issue through resources like The Better Arguments Project (BAP). Five key principles serve as a foundation for BAP’s work: take winning off the table, prioritize relationships and listen passionately, pay attention to context, embrace vulnerability, and make room to transform.
“The world is really polarized right now, and the issues are so volatile,” says Jackie, who describes how the principles of BAP help students learn to take a deep breath and turn down the volume during an argument. “We also want them to understand that just because they disagree with a person, it doesn’t mean that person is their enemy,” says Jeremiah. “It could be a family member or a close friend who simply has a different perspective or opinion, and that is okay.”