Welcome to The Lowdown, the content hub for KQED’s News Education project. This recently launched initiative – a unique collaboration between KQED Education and KQED News - provides critical background context on big KQED news stories, and investigates the “how’d we get here?” component. Although intended for a broad audience, the site is specifically geared toward California high school social studies, English/language arts, and Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers as a resource for teaching with the news, creatively integrating current events into the core curriculum, and engaging students in civic life.
Why teach with the news?
For starters, headlines can be a source of fascinating, provocative and continually fresh material to augment established curriculum. Whether you’re teaching about the New Deal, macroeconomics, federalism, ecology, or culinary arts, news headlines are full of relevant, real-world examples and issues that help illustrate and animate textbook concepts while offering innovative approaches to meeting California’s social science and English Language Arts standards. Incorporating the news into established lesson plans is an excellent way to directly engage and inform students, and encourage active, participatory learning.
Additionally, the foundation of news education rests on expository and digital media texts, all of which are central to the new Common Core State Standards.
For more on media literacy and using multimedia applications in the classroom, visit KQED’s Media Literacy Resources.
What can I find on the site?
Take a quick tour! The site has loads of multimedia explanatory content about everything from the workings of Super PACs to how Facebook makes its billions. You can search for content in a variety of ways: through a basic keyword search; by browsing topic categories at the top of the page; or by searching under specific course subject areas in the Classroom Connections section. Here you’ll find relevant content that coresponds to the classes you teach. And all posts can also be easily converted to customizable PDFs for printing and emailing.
Additionally, packages of content are aggregated in a section called The Big Scoop. Some have attached educator guides that contain Common Core and California standards alignment, story summaries, discussion questions, and collections of online resources.
New content will be added and available every week. You can also subscribe to receive regular email updates when new content is posted – simply enter your email address in the right-hand column window. An RSS feed is available as well.
Teachers and students are encouraged to directly submit comments about what they read, and requests for specific topic coverage are always welcome. As the project continues to develop, there will also be opportunities for students to produce and submit original media.
The site also includes a link to KQED Education’s Do Now project, a weekly activity in which students respond to current events issues using social media tools like Twitter. The activity emphasizes civic engagement and digital citizenship skills by encouraging students to express their views publicly on major topics in the news.
What’s unique about The Lowdown?
There are already a whole bunch of great news education sites out there. So, what’s different about The Lowdown?
1. Original, high quality multimedia and analysis, aligned to content standards and geared toward secondary school educators for direct use in the classroom.
2. A site for both using and understanding news within the framework of media literacy and analysis; an inquiry-based exploration of major societal issues.
3. A set of resources that leverage the breadth, scope and credibility of KQED News and its partner organization and that are intended to help educators “teach with the news” in the context of core high school subjects, including social studies, history, civics and English language arts.
4. Collections of content that aim to increase students’ critical engagement and interaction with the news, and that help encourage and facilitate youth digital media production and increased participation in civic dialogue.
News Education teacher training workshops
A key goal of this project is provide media production trainings for Bay Area educators, and to inspire and facilitate enhanced media literacy and to incorporate multimedia applications in the classroom. Additionally, the news education project aims to engage youth by encouraging them to weigh in on current events and produce their own media. Free KQED media production and digital storytelling training workshops will be held throughout the year and are open to any teachers who wish to attend. Dates and signup information will be announced intermittently both on this site, the KQED Education newsletter and on KQED’s general events calendar.
Who’s the point person?
Matthew Green manages the News Education project. Prior to joining KQED, Green taught journalism at Media Academy High School in East Oakland and MetWest High School. He was also a staff writer at the Oakland Tribune and frequent contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle and East Bay Express. He most recently managed media projects for the Center for Investigative Reporting and Active Voice, creating educational resources and organizing community screenings of films on climate change, energy, and food justice. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.