Welcome to The Lowdown, content hub for KQED’s News Education project. A collaboration between KQED’s Education and News departments, the project looks at key issues in the news and attempts to answer the question of “How did we get here?” That is, what’s the story’s background context and how has it been shaped by past events?
Although intended for a broad audience, The Lowdown 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 and creatively integrating current events into core curriculum, while also directly engaging students in civic issues.
Most content can be used to teach to the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts, which puts significant emphasis on media literacy, narrative non-fiction, argument-based writing and primary source analysis.
Why teach with the news?
For starters, headlines are often a source of provocative and continually fresh material to augment established curriculum. Whether you’re teaching about the New Deal or macroeconomics, ecology or culinary arts, news headlines are full of relevant, real-world examples and issues that help illustrate and animate textbook concepts. 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 CCSS.
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?
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 categories or by searching under specific course subject areas in the header menu, where you’ll find relevant content corresponding to the classes you teach. 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.
All posts can also be easily converted to customizable PDFs for printing and emailing.
New content is added several times a week. You can also subscribe to receive regular email updates when new content is posted or through the RSS feed.
Teachers and students are encouraged to directly submit comments about what they read, as well as requests for specific topic coverage. As the project continues to develop, there will also be opportunities for students to produce and submit original media.
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 high school 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 organizations. The site is 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.
Who’s the point guy?
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. Before joining KQED, he 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. He plays guitar, throws a mean frisbee and is willing to travel to the ends of the earth for a really good slice of pizza.
Contact him at email@example.com.