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At AllSides, we believe there is no such thing as completely unbiased news. We’re all biased, making it impossible to curate perfectly objective news. This results in a culture of intense political polarization. When we lack a common source of facts, it makes common understanding almost impossible to find. In this lesson, students should explore what type of political climate they want for our country, and how the media contributes to this potential future.
Estimated Time: One class period
Level: 9th – 12th grade
News Literacy & Critical Thinking
By the end of this lesson, students will have learned:
- Critical analysis: students will gain a deeper understanding of how to analyze news sources and determine their biases.
- Literacy: students will develop media literacy, allowing them to understand the biases of the news they read in everyday life.
- Conversation: students will work together and learn how to talk respectfully to each other through political discussion.
See how this program complies with Common Core standards.
Tools & Resources Provided By AS4S & Our Partners
Red Blue Dictionary
The AllSides Dictionary reveals how different people from across the political spectrum think and feel about the same term or issue.
Media Bias Topic Pages
The AllSides Topic Page on Media Bias provides useful background information to familiarize students with the conversation
The Mismatch platform allows students to engage in structured conversation with another classroom.
Types of Media Bias
This article outlines 11 types of media bias, and how to spot them. Use this to improve your students’ news literacy skills.
Suggested Curriculum / Class Plan
First, students need to understand the issue’s viewpoints from across the political spectrum. Utilize the following resources to familiarize your students with the political discourse surrounding free speech. We suggest going through some of these links as a classroom, so that students establish a shared understanding of the facts.
1. Media Bias Topic page on AllSides:
Give your students a good overview of free speech as a historical issue. The AllSides Topic page provides important background information, as well as current news and opinions on the issue.
2. Balanced Dictionary:
The AllSides Balanced Dictionary reveals how different people from across the political spectrum think and feel about the same term or issue.
For this lesson, you can utilize the following terms: Bias/Biased, Confirmation Bias, Facts, Prejudice, Stereotypes and Unbiased
3. AllSides Balanced Search:
Find interesting news stories about free speech using the AllSides Balanced Search Engine. This search engine quickly and easily shows you recent articles that display different perspectives on an issue. Google and other search engines often only give you the most popular perspective, burying or leaving out alternative viewpoints.
This curriculum from iCivics helps students learn how the media influences discussions that take place in government.
Next, you want the students to participate in a healthy, collaborative dialog regarding free speech. There are a few different options you can choose from.
Participate in an Online Video Dialog:
Mismatch.org: Connect with students across the country with different backgrounds and political perspectives for a respectful video conversation regarding free speech.
Engage in conversations in person:
Alternatively, you can use one of the following conversation guides to hold an in-class discussion. This will allow students to develop their personal perspectives on free speech and learn to respect the opinions of their peers.
Living Room Conversations
Optional Homework Assignments
- Have students pick out any news story using the AllSides Balanced Search Engine. Have each student analyze the political biases displayed in their chosen news story, using the literacy skills they developed in class. They can share their findings during a later class period, or write up a short analysis to submit to the teacher.
- Have students write a 300 word reflection after the Media Bias class discussion — what did they learn? Did they have any interesting disagreements?