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Lesson: The Expert Curator

Title

The Expert Curator

Description

A lesson on how today’s news consumer also acts as a content curator

Summary

In this lesson, students explore the concept of information curation. They are exposed to the wide variety of news and hybrid news mediums while also reflecting on their own “newsgathering” habits. To practice these skills, they will learn to curate information and facts from a variety of sources in order to curate a comprehensive, accurate account of an event.

Objectives

  • Students will understand the processes of curation.
  • Students will identify different types of news mediums and news sources and will explain how each helps build a comprehensive “news” account.
  • Students will demonstrate mastery by curating information from a variety of sources into a complete news account of an event.
  • Students will demonstrate best practices in oral speaking by presenting their information to the class.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.7 Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills — Student Outcomes

Skills P21 outcomes
Critical Thinking Reason effectively
Use systems thinking
Make judgments and decisions
Communication Communicate clearly
Information Literacy Access and evaluate information
Use and manage information

Length

Two 50-minute class sessions (or three 50-minute sessions depending on the skill level/work speed of your class).

Materials

Computer lab or laptop access: 1:1 ratio preferred, but students can work in pairs

Presentation software: Powerpoint, Prezi online, Storify, or other software

Lesson step-by-step

1. Introduction and concept review — 15 minutes

This lesson ask students to think about how, in the digital age, we use multiple sources across multiple platforms to inform our understanding about an event. Today and during the next class, students will learn how today’s news consumers must also be news curators.

First, define the word “curation.” Curation is the act of searching for, examining, and compiling information from a variety of sources in an attempt to gather the most relevant and truthful content. When journalists research stories and gather news, they are in essence completing a kind of curation that is very specific to the newsmaking process.  As consumers, we have so many choices for where to get our information, and we will often get bits and pieces from many different places. This reality has turned us into information curators. Ask students: If you want to know what’s happening this weekend, where might you get information on that? (They should answer Facebook, text messages, email, etc.). Sifting through all that information and deciding which is most relevant to you and your needs is an act of curation. In reality, we curate all the time.

When it comes to news literacy, there are some “best practices” in news curation that can help us to be the most effective news curators and find the most credible information. Review these best practices with students. You could write them on the board or create a handout.

1. Aim for variety—If you’ve scoured multiple sources and types, chances are you’ve exposed yourself to a wide enough variety of information that the most important information will be present somewhere.

2. Look for repetition—Repetition of facts (numbers, statistics, dates, names) can often mean your information is more accurate and reliable.

3. Keep track of confirmation—Do different sources confirm the same facts in step two? If so, this can indicate that your information is truthful and more credible.

4. Gather multiple perspectives—Try to find information that tells the story from a variety of perspectives or emphasizes different angles of the same story. This way, you get a more well-rounded version of the event or issue.

5. Consider the intent—Remember that the best intent for publishing information is simply to inform. Sometimes, people publish information for other reasons (to express their opinion, to put someone or something in a positive or negative light, to get attention, to persuade you in some way). The best information and sources won’t have an intent to do anything other than provide information.

2. Curation activity — remainder of class

Ask students to think of a recent major news event. Their job for the rest of the class period is to curate information from a variety of sources related to that news event. They should explore at least 10 different sources from a variety of news media sources (website or traditional news media available in your school library).  Advise them that social media, like Twitter or Facebook, are not viable sources here (not because they can’t actually provide news, but because school filters might be an access issue here).

As they curate information, their main goal is to compile a truly complete, cohesive account of the news event. They will present their fully curated account of the news event to the class during the next class session. So, they should take notes on the information they find (either by taking manual notes, typing notes, emailing notes to themselves with links to the sources, etc.). They’ll need detailed, specific notes and examples that relate to the event (they can reference the five best practices above to help guide their curation).

During the presentation, they’ll need to talk about what sources they examined and where they found their information. As they curate, they can build their presentation either in powerpoint, using the online Prezi site, or via an online curation tool like Storify.  They can take screenshots to show what the coverage looked like across mediums. Students should spend the remainder of the class time today curating information related to their event and compiling their presentation.

NOTE: Depending on the skill level of your students, they may need an extra class period to keep curating and putting together their presentation. That would extend this lesson into three 50-minute sessions.

4. Present — 45 minutes

During this class period, students should present their curated news event, taking three minutes each to explain to the class how they went about finding information, an overview of the sources they found, and how they were able to get the “big picture” view of what happened based on their examination of all the information.

5. Homework — journal reflection

Students should write a 2-3 paragraph reflection on their curating experience and how it relates to their daily life. Ask them to respond to the following prompt:

In 2-3 well-written paragraphs, address the following questions: What was easy about the curation process? What was hard? Was there anything about the process or the results that was surprising or unexpected? What about this process can you take away and apply to your daily life and your habits of media consumption?