Lesson Plans

“Reading” the News: Media, Research, and Debate

"Refined (lock)" by Brett Jordan is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This unit was created by Chalya Pudlewski, an ELA teacher at Cooperstown Jr./Sr. High School in Cooperstown, NY, as part of the fall 2020 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program on Media, Misinformation, and the Pandemic. It is designed for facilitation across approximately five 40-minute class periods.

For more units created by Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellows in this cohort, click here.


Students will be able to...

  • Select research topics for a debate.
  • Define and identify rhetorical devices and recognize fallacies.
  • Evaluate sources for credibility.
  • Develop research questions.
  • Research information to share with classmates.
  • Discuss issues respectfully and make an effort to avoid fallacies while engaging in a debate.
  • Listen to experts on evaluating sources while covering the underreported impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and reflect on what they have learned throughout the unit.

Unit Overview:

This unit asks students to evaluate news articles on under-represented people and underreported topics to research and understand the world. Students also study how journalists report and communicate. Media literacy skills will be put to the test as students navigate current events through news from multiple local and global perspectives to learn what underreported stories are and why they are important. Above all, students will build empathy as they find and communicate underreported stories from their research in debates where they will weigh the consequences of leadership decisions and participate in problem-solving and critical thinking about issues of direct personal relevance to them.

Resources for Facilitating this Unit:

Click here for a PDF outlining lesson plans for this unit, including warm-ups, resources, discussion questions, activities, performance tasks, and sample student work for the unit.

Performance Tasks: 

  1. Students will research for and conduct debates on various topics. My students chose the following topics:
    • Environmental Issues and Climate Change
    • Human Rights: Gender, Race, and Politics
    • Media, Misinformation, and the Pandemic
  2. Students will actively participate in a presentation by a Pulitzer Center-supported journalist.
  3. Students will reflect on their experiences in the debate by writing a paper about what they have learned. Here are examples of reflection papers from Cooperstown Junior/Senior High School students who completed the unit in fall 2020.

Assessment and Examples 

Student presentations are evaluated using the 6+1 Traits of Writing Rubric for Oral Presentation. Reflection essays are evaluated using the 6+1 Traits Writing Rubric.

Educator Notes: 

Content Standards: 

9-10R1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly/implicitly and make logical inferences; develop questions for deeper understanding and for further exploration. (RI&RL)

9-10R6: Analyze how authors employ point of view, perspective, and purpose to shape explicit and implicit messages (e.g., examine rhetorical strategies, literary elements and devices). (RI&RL)

9-10R8: Delineate and evaluate an argument and specific claims in a text, assessing the validity or fallacy of key statements by examining whether the supporting evidence is relevant and sufficient. (RI&RL)

9-10R9: Choose and develop criteria in order to evaluate the quality of texts. Make connections to other texts, ideas, cultural perspectives, eras, and personal experiences. (RI&RL)

9-10W6: Conduct research to answer questions, including self-generated questions, or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate. Synthesize multiple sources, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

9-10SL3: Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric; identify any fallacious reasoning or exaggerated or distorted evidence.

9-10SL4: Present claims, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically; organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

9-10L6: Acquire and accurately use general academic and content-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening; demonstrate independence in applying vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

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