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Teaching with the News Archives

This lesson was published in August 2012.

Following the U.S. Presidential Election


In this lesson, students will:

This lesson is intended for use over the course of multiple weeks. Part I may be completed during one class period, while Parts II and III require more time.

Resources from Choices

Student Handouts

News Sources

Note to Teachers: Prior to conducting Part I, select four to five different news sources on a single current event or topic relevant to your class. For the purposes of this activity, choose sources that vary by type (blog, editorial, news story), origin (local, national, international), and political leaning (liberal, conservative, etc.). In groups, students will analyze one of the news sources and compare their analysis with others. The following sites may be helpful in searching for sources.


International news in English


In the Classroom

Part I-News Analysis

Begin class by asking students to share how they learn about current events. Do they watch a specific news channel? Is there a magazine or newspaper they like to read? Do they rely on family and friends to keep them informed? Why do students turn to these sources for the news? Then ask students to consider the characteristics of these sources. Do students think their sources are objective? Why or why not? Do students enjoy reading or watching news that clearly shows an opinion? What could be the benefit of consulting multiple types of sources?

Distribute “Analyzing the News” and “News Analysis: Example” and have students read over the first page. Discuss with students the value in understanding the source information, content, and message when they are reading or watching the news. Emphasize how identifying these elements can help students compare sources and better understand the topics being discussed. You may also want to review with students some of the key differences between editorials, news stories, blog posts, and other types of sources. Then review the example on page two. For the full news article used in the example, visit The New York Times.

Comparing the Sources
Divide the class into small groups and assign a news source to each group. Distribute “News Analysis: Graphic Organizer” and have students answer the questions. Students should also highlight and/or record important statements and quotes from their news source. They will share these excerpts with the class as examples for content and message.

Once the students finish analyzing their sources, have groups present a few notes from each section of their organizer and read some of their highlighted statements. Afterwards, discuss the news as a class. What differences do students notice between the sources? Was the same information presented in each news source? Did the author’s tone vary from one piece to another? Ask students to cite specific words or phrases. What do students think are the pros and cons of consulting a news story for information? An editorial? Did consulting multiple sources allow students to learn something new about the issue? Where might students look to get more information on the issue? For example, would they want to watch a news segment with interviews? Or read an editorial from a different news source?

Part II-Following the Election in the News

Inform students that in the coming weeks they will be monitoring the news media’s coverage of the 2012 presidential election. As they strengthen their skills in analyzing the news media, they will also be looking at the candidates’ positions on major policy issues.

Part III-Pre-Election Reporting

In this concluding activity students will take what they have learned from their experience tracking the election to create their own news report on the candidates. There are a few different ways this activity can be completed.

Extra Challenge:

Have students write an editorial related to the presidential election. Emphasize that an editorial includes personal opinion and may use facts or quotes to try to persuade the audience that the author's opinion is right. Students may wish to write as a local journalist or a national reporter. Students should note which media organization they are writing for.

Resources from The Choices Program

Election Series

From now until November 6th, Choices is offering an Election Series of six topics central to the 2012 presidential election. The election series includes:

Photo: Christopher Dilts for Obama for America/Terence Burlij/PBS NewsHour