Our free monthly newsletter features educational resources, upcoming learning opportunities (such as webinars, events, and online courses), practical tips, new ideas, and other news. Sign up to receive the newsletter and other occasional updates from RQI.
Here’s a text-only version of our November 2020 newsletter:
Asking questions to decipher the news
Making sense of the news can be difficult these days. Young people may struggle to interpret what they see.
A recent report from Pew Research Center found young adults are more likely to get news from social media than from other sources. The report showed that people who rely on social media for political news had particularly low levels of knowledge about it and were more likely to be exposed to conspiracy theories. A study from Stanford showed “a dismaying inability by students to reason about information they see on the internet.”
Building students’ ability to ask questions about news stories and sources can help them process information about current events. Here are some resources and articles:
- How Questioning Can Drive Arguments, Productive Debate & Information Literacy Among Students (EBSCO Post)
- The Necessity of Asking Questions (Project Information Literacy)
- QFT in the Library: Information Literacy & Beyond (RQI)
- Media Literacy Means Asking Questions (RQI)
- Build Media Literacy Skills with the Question Formulation Technique (RQI)
- Webinar: Asking Questions in the Age of Google (EBSCO)
How students in LA became ‘voter facilitators’
In the weeks leading up to this month’s election, Johnny Walker, a history teacher in Los Angeles, used RQI’s nonpartisan “Why Vote?” Tool with his students to spark discussion and learning around voting. His students “became highly effective civic activists” and “voter facilitators,” some of them encouraging acquaintances to vote for the first time. “I felt overwhelmed and humbled” by the outcome, Walker writes.
‘Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College?’
At RQI we like questions, and Harvard history professor Alexander Keyssar asks a timely one in the title of his recent book: Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College? Isabel Morales, a social studies teacher in Los Angeles, and Dan Rothstein, RQI’s co-director, interviewed Keyssar for an article in Social Education, published by the National Council for the Social Studies. They discuss the history of this American institution and interesting ways to explore it with students.
Exploring Thanksgiving through primary sources
In the United States, Thanksgiving is a multifaceted holiday where history and myth are woven together into a story that spans centuries. It’s a story that connects presidential proclamations to recipe books. It’s a holiday where intimate family moments mingle with historical events and debates. In short, it provides rich opportunities and multiple entry points to spark student questioning about U.S. history, research, and historical thinking. Check out the Library of Congress primary source set about Thanksgiving. It has wonderful Question Focus possibilities. (One of our favorites: a 1796 recipe for turkey stuffing.)
What we’re reading
Here are some stories that caught our attention and made us think.
- The Electoral College: What Are Its Origins and How Does it Work? — Teaching with the Library of Congress
- Evidence Increases for Writing During Math Class — The Hechinger Report
- What the Research Says About the Academic Power of Friendship — KQED’s MindShift
- Lesson Plan: What Is the Difference Between Mis- and Disinformation? — PBS NewsHour EXTRA
- What if Instead of Calling People Out, We Called Them In? — New York Times
Upcoming learning opportunities
Nov. 24: Why Vote One More Time? Introducing a Unique Tool That Can Help Increase Turnout for the Georgia Senate Races | In partnership with Georgia Justice Project
Dec. 2: Introduction to the Question Formulation Technique | In partnership with Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Virginia.
Dec. 2: Support the Shift to Inquiry-Based Classrooms with Inquiry-Based Professional Learning | In partnership with the National Social Studies Supervisors Association.
Dec. 6: Cultivating a Lifelong Explorer Mindset through Student-Led Inquiry | In partnership with the National Council for Geographic Education.
Coming in 2021: Best Teachers Institute. Dates to be determined. Visit bestteachersinstitute.org for more information.
As 2020 winds to a close, your support matters. With you’re help, we’re able to provide free online resources for educators and schools — so that students continue to have enriching learning experiences amid the COVID-19 crisis. We’re able to bring practical, free tools for self-advocacy to more and more people across the country — so they can begin to navigate complex obstacles, ask questions, have a say in decisions, and strengthen their voice in democracy. You make a difference. Thank you for everything you do and for being part of the RQI family.