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Description

With the election year upon us, it’s getting harder for students to find factual, unbiased news. This lesson focuses on teaching media biases through the scope of identifying and analyzing media coverage.

Objectives
• Students will gain a deeper understanding of how to analyze news sources and determine their own biases.
• Students will further develop their own media literacy, allowing them to understand the biases of the news they read in everyday life.
• Students will analyze, dissect and classify news articles by political bias to create thorough and elaborate interpretations using textual evidence to justify rationale.   

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.1CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.1CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.8.1Cite 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.9-10.4CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.4CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.8.4Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.6CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.6CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.8.6Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.8CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.8CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.8.8Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.7Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Length

100 minutes (two-class periods)

Materials/Resources

Step 1: Six Levels of Questioning
Six Levels of Questioning
Step 2: Types of Bias Videos
www.kqed.org/lowdown/26829/quiz-how-good-are-you-at-detecting-bias-with-lesson-plan
Who, Me? Biased?
Step 3: Allsides.com Media Bias Chart
AllSides Media Bias Chart
Step 4: Political Bias Quiz and Republican vs. Democrat chart

Quiz option 1: Political Typology Quiz
Quiz option 2: Time to Choose: Reality Check: What Kind of Voter Are You?

Resource: Democrat vs Republican – Difference and Comparison
Step 5: Allsides.com news siteResource: https://www.allsides.com/unbiased-balanced-news

Rubric

RUBRICFull creditPartial creditNo credit
Political BiasThe submission provides three correct political biases as defined by allsides.com site or instructor definition.The submission results in 1-2 correct political biases as defined by allsides.com or instruction definition.The submission does not identify political bias for each publication OR does not accurately identify biases. 
RationaleThe submission fully rationalizes how the three texts reflect the appropriate biases through detailed and sound explanation. The submission somewhat rationalizes how the three texts reflect the appropriate biases but lacks some of the details necessary to fully explain how the stories show bias.The submission does not rationalize ways the publication shows bias in the respective articles.
EvidenceThe submission uses multiple pieces of textual evidence in each article to support their analysis. The submission uses a few pieces of textual evidence throughout the articles to somewhat analyze the three articles.The submission does not use any textual evidence in their publication report.
FormatThe submission provides three accurate stories and fully identifies all publication titles with complete citations and uses correct formatting specifications as assigned by the instructor.The format of the submission is missing one or more parts of the correct formatting including citations, publications, titles, and other assigned formatting specifications required by the instructor.The submission does not analyze three publications, does not use three similar stories, does not identify publications used or does not conform to instructor specifications.

Lesson step-by-step
Day 1

Step 1 — What does bias mean? (5 minutes) 
First, it’s important for students to understand their own biases. By asking Level 1 and Level 2 questions, you can gauge the level of bias understanding (personal, cultural, family, religion, and societal). For example, you can get students to share what they know of biases and what they’ve seen or heard in their lives by calling on volunteers, thumbs up/down, green/yellow/red cards, think/pair/share, shoulder partners/share out, and written responses.

Resource: http://www.brentcoley.com/uploads/1/1/6/9/11695738/lc_questioning_packet.pdf

Step 2 — Bring on the videos? (7:30 minutes)
Next are two videos geared toward a better understanding of types of biases we all see in society. Afterward, you can field questions and ask various Level 2 questions where students can compare/illustrate/show/summarize what they’ve seen in their own experiences or on television.

Video 1: (5 minutes)
https://www.kqed.org/lowdown/26829/quiz-how-good-are-you-at-detecting-bias-with-lesson-plan

Video 2: (2:30 minutes)
https://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/pov-Who, Me? Biased?

Step 3 — What media bias? (5 minutes)
Using the AllSides Media Bias Chart, explain how different media outlets lean politically based on publishers, executives, corporate sponsors, reader/viewers. It’s important to note that this new chart indicates ABC, NBC, and CBS networks as “leaning left” vs. previous indicators of “center.” You may ask students what news stations/publications their families watch/read, explain some of the major differences between the political parties, and how those affiliations push the medium’s narrative.

Resource: AllSides Media Bias Chart

Step 4 — What’s my bias? (10 minutes)
After speaking to students about the differences in media bias, allow students an opportunity to complete the 16-question political indicator. You may want to do an anonymous or informal poll or not. You can also distribute a Democrat vs. Republican differences chart as well. 

Option 1:   https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/quiz/political-typology/
Option 2: http://www.pbs.org/timetochoose/quizzes/pew.html
Resource: https://www.diffen.com/difference/Democrat_vs_Republican

Step 5 — We do. Let’s spot the biases (20 minutes)
In a typical, 50-minute class period, this would be the final segment of the day. The purpose of this segment is for the instructor to take one story from Allsides.com and print out a class set of one current events story found on the website. For this assignment, don’t tell the students the political lean. Allow the students a few minutes to scan the stories. Next, dissect key vocabulary words, phrases and passages allowing the students to follow along and highlight the passages. These indicators should show students how those subtle and not-so-subtle choices show bias. If you’re a 1-to-1 school, consider sending your students links to these stories without using Allsides.com.

Resource: https://www.allsides.com/unbiased-balanced-news

Day 2

Step 5 — You do. Can you spot the biases? (40 minutes)

In this main portion of the lesson, you can either allow students to use the media bias chart to find their own stories from three news sites OR you can choose the stories yourself. From here, allow students in the class to dissect the news stories, indicate the lean (left, center, right) and give explicit rationale and reasonings. You may ask students to annotate as much or little as you so choose. For instance, you may want students to provide key vocabulary, phrases or paragraphs with proper citation. OR you may want students to dissect other stories to show comparisons/contrasts in forms of coverage. For assessment, the students will submit electronically or on paper with story/topic chosen, publication name, political biases for each publication and rationale.

Step 6 — Exit slip (5-10 minutes)
Use these last 5-10 minutes of class reflecting on the assignment. Finally, ask students how this assignment shaped their opinion of the news media and what they would suggest to friends or parents who only align to one thinking process or only watch one station. You can collect at the end as a last informal assessment.

Differentiation

  • ESL
    • You may consider showing broadcast videos rather than reading print articles. For instance, you may choose to watch a video from CNN, FOX and NPR for instance. 
  • Gifted
    • For gifted/advanced learners, you may choose to use the Red Blue Dictionary on Allsides.com (https://www.allsides.com/dictionary) and ask students to use vocabulary found in this section to enhance their analysis.
    • Allow gifted learners to assist/lead segment
  • Technology
    • 1:1 computers
    • Build a presentation (Google Slides/PowerPoint) using data/charts to support evidence.
  • Standard
    • Allow extra time
    • Provide quiet space to work
    • Provide highlighted materials for Step 5
    • Incorporate activity into group work
    • Allow editing, revision before grading
    • Provide graphic of key terms
    • Provide bilingual dictionary

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