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Promote Critical Thinking Skills with NewseumED

by Susan Coulter

by Susan Coulter
Baldwin Park Adult and Career Education
Posted September 2019

NewseumED is a free website belonging to Newseum, a museum in Washington, DC dedicated to news and history. The focus is on First Amendment rights and helping students develop critical thinking skills through thousands of lesson plans, videos, classes, digital artifacts, historical events and critical debates. NewseumED is a great way to build the critical thinking skills needed for our High School Equivalency students. The content can be filtered by grade level and adapted for English as a Second Language (ESL) and Adult Basic Education (ABE) students. NewseumED topics are important to all our adult students.

Title: NewseumED website  - Description: Reads: Strengthening civil society through First Amendment & Media Literacy Education. Tabs across the top are Classes & Training, Collections, Tools, and News. There is a link to across the top to Log In and/or Sign Up. Near the bottom of the image are three images with links to Understand the First Amedment, Finding Reliable Facts, and Making Historical Connections.
Figure 1 -

Sign Up For a Free Account

You will need to get your own account in order to view and download some materials. The sign-up page involves several windows, but once completed you are free to explore all resources. There is a link in the top right-hand corner.

Title: Get full access to NewseumED - Description: Popup window that directs you to the sign up page. Sign up link is a pink bar on the left-hand side.Title: Sign up page - Description: form requesting email, and password. There is a reCAPTCHA and check box stating I'm not a robot.

Navigating NewseumED

Title: Navigation links - Description: screenshot of links across the top of the page, which include Classes & Training, Collections, Tools, and News.

NewseumED's site uses responsive technology so your students can easily search and explore artifacts on their devices.

Classes & Training

Title: On the Campaign Trail: The Battle for Votes - Description: One of the workshops offered titled On the Campaign Trail: The Battle for Votes.

There are numerous workshops listed; however, most face-to-face workshops at the Newseum in Washington, DC. You will want to look carefully at the venue and capacity. You can request a virtual class for most workshops, but you will need to turn in a request form at least two weeks in advance. All classes are free of charge.


In today's digital world, biased and misleading news is a reality. Students need to be able to differentiate what's real from what's fake or biased. Fact Finder: Your Foolproof Guide to Media Literacy is an EDCollection of 11 flexible multimedia lesson plans. The first lessons introduce essential media literacy concepts. Media Map provides examples for students to analyze and evaluate. There are also worksheets and discussion prompts for each lesson. Finally, students take what they've learned and apply it to an issue that matters to them. Students are able to read actual reports and newspaper articles about different events and decide for themselves. This is only one of seven different EDCollections, which bring together numerous lesson plans to make an entire unit.

Title: Show All - Description: Show All is selected and the components of the unit are graphically displayed. Visible are Navigating the Information Universe, Is It Fair?, How Should I Search?, Is it News? and Search Signals

The NewseumED Collections are Fact Finder, Free Speech, Decoding Elections, Media Literacy Booster Pack, Freedom in the Balance, Making a Change, and Women, Their Rights and Nothing Less.

Title: Fact Finder - Description: screenshot of the seven different collections and the pink Launch Edcollection bar.

  1. To browse the different collections, select Collections and then highlight the collection of choice.

  2. You then need to select the pink Launch EDCollection bar.

  3. Once in the collection, I found it simpler to select Show All to see the different lessons and artifacts available.
    Title: Can you navigate the information universe - Description: Shows the links under Explore the EDCollection, which are Navigate news, Bypass Bias, Search Effectively and Show All.

  4. If you are using a handheld device, it is easier to select the dropdown menu titled Inside this EDCollection. Each topic is a lesson with downloadable handouts, worksheets and step-by-step instructions.
    Title: Inside this EDCollection - Description: Shows the dropdown menu with each lesson listed.

  5. Another way to view resources is to select one of the links under How to use this EDCollection.
    Title: How to use the EDCollection - Description: Shows three links at the bottom of the page titled Learn how to navigaste the information universe, Refine your search skills and understand your top hits, and Get beyond biasd - your own and in the news.
    These links allow you to view all the resources under each topic.

  6. Lesson plans are packed with resources and step-by-step instructions.
    Title: Lesson Plan - Description: Shows a video presentation called The Spark and Instructions.

There are several resources in each lesson plan along with Discussion Questions and Extension Activities. Be sure to check out the Related Standards at the bottom of the page.

Title: Materials and Downloadds - Description: Shows the Materials and Download section of the lesson plan.

Tools (Search Engine and filters)

There are two different ways to search for resources. You can do a keyword search by using the search icon to the far right; however, Tools gives you the option of narrowing your search by using numerous filters. When you first open Tools, you will see results with all filters selected. You can then do a keyword search of all resources, but if you just want a Lesson Plan or Video, you can first select Remove All Filters and then select the Type of Tool.

Title: Browse 1,000s of  - Description: Screenshot of the Tools page with tabs for Topic, Grade, and More. . . Type of Tool is selected and different EDTOOLS are selected such as Critical Debates, Digital Artifacts, Lesson Plans, Polls, Themes, Videos, Debate Comparisons, Historical Events, Maps, Quizzed, and Timelines.

Search results can also be filtered by Topic and Grade. In addition, the More tab allows you to search by Time Period, key person and state.


In the News section you will find Newseum's monthly newsletter with ideas on how to use the content and also information on special events and new resources. Their newsletters take a closer look at current articles in the press. I found their articles to be very thought provoking and well worth sharing with students.

Title: Countering Conspiracy Theories With Criticsal Thinking - Description: Shows an article on  Conspiracy Theories from their Newsletter and a sampling of press coverage.

Sharing Resources

There are numerous ways to share resources. There is a floating tool bar on every page with links to Facebook, Google Classroom, email, and a URL link.

Title: E-Newsletter - Description: Shows the August 2019 E-Newsletter and the floating share bar.

By selecting the share icon at the top of the tool bar you will see many, many more ways to share resources.

Title: Share - Description: Showsd numerous way that resources can be shared such as Google Classroom, Copy Link, Facebook, Twitter, Print, Email, Pinterest, Gmail, LinkedIn and Email App. There is also a link at the bottom of the page labeled Load More.

NewseumED resources are a great way to promote critical thinking skills in the classroom.

Sample Activity

Illustrated Opinions: Decoding an Editorial Cartoon

In this activity, students learn about editorial cartoons, analyze the message or view portrayed and then are asked to create their own. There are links to three possible sites with cartoons for you to choose. This lesson includes a student worksheet on Decoding an Editorial Cartoon, handout on Persuasion Techniques, worksheet on Create Your Own Editorial Cartoon and a step-by-step lesson plan. This activity also includes Newseum's Artifact Viewer so students can view historical cartoons in their Editorial Cartoon Gallery. Whether you use this lesson plan or any of the other hundred and fifty other lesson plans, you will have step-by-step instructions and numerous resources.

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.