An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Janelle Hagen, Middle School librarian

We are in the year 2020, and it is… a bit of a wild ride.  We have a major election coming up, we are in the middle of a global pandemic, people are protesting civil rights and police brutality, we’ve got forest fires burning all over the west, we’re doing online school, and we’ve had one of the worst hurricane seasons on record — just to name a few.  And we are constantly being inundated with information and news about all of this.  So much so that experts are calling the times we live in an “age of misinformation” or an “infodemic.”

This summer, I worked with Debbie Bensadon, assistant director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and Reem Abu Rahmeh, Middle School director, to develop a school-wide media literacy program. Through this program, we’ll be developing skills in Lakeside’s Middle School community to sort through all of this information and be able to evaluate which is good and which might not be a very credible source. 

Students may think, “Well sure, I watch maybe the nightly news with my family,” or, “I pick up the newspaper every now and then or maybe listen to the radio,” and that’s great. But we want Lakesiders to be aware of the other places they get information. We are getting so much information thrown at us every single day. During remote learning, students are in front of a computer for many hours a day. People all over the world are using the internet, which is awesome… but I want to share a few statistics.

  • Every minute 500 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube. Our brains have a hard time making sense of big numbers, so I’ll do the math for you: that’s 82.2 years’ worth of content a day. YEARS!  And that’s just what is being uploaded. People — and most likely that includes many in our community — watch 1 billion hours a day of Youtube videos. OK… you ready? That’s over 114,00 years!
  • Crazy, right? Well get this: 500 million people are active on Instagram daily.  TikTok has been downloaded 2 billion times — the most of any app — and it’s only been around for four years!
  • And then there’s Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter; 500 million tweets go out a day!

You may be thinking, well that’s not all news — but some of it is. And some of us are quick to share and quick to consume, but don’t not really think beyond that. We want students to take a step back and start thinking critically about things they see every day, and really know the difference between someone’s opinion and something that has been researched and vetted by a journalist. 

Throughout the fall, Middle School students will be using Checkology, a program created by the News Literacy Project, to learn more about media literacy. The News Literacy Project is a nonpartisan education nonprofit. After working through Checkology modules curated for each grade level, students will convene for discussion in advisory groups.

We have used this resource in the past in Digital Life and I am excited to roll it out to the entire Middle School as part of this media literacy initiative!