The Cult of Pedagogy Podcast, Episode 184 Transcript

Jennifer Gonzalez, Host

GONZALEZ: Anyone remember making book covers with shopping bags? If you’ve been around long enough, there’s a good chance that when you went to school, you were issued a couple of textbooks at the start of every school year. For the whole year, you were responsible for keeping that textbook clean and intact, and covering your book was often the very first homework assignment for the year. So most of us would go home and make covers out of brown paper shopping bags.

Those books and their covers represent a period in history that is long gone now, a time when schools chose a specific delivery system for a narrow body of information and that was what you learned. And that was what the classes before you and after you learned as well, as long as the spines of those books hung on. Educators had almost complete control over the content students consumed. 

Now those days are over—our students can access information on any topic in seconds, and that information can come from all kinds of sources. In a lot of ways, that’s a really good thing. It means our students have a better chance of learning about the world from different perspectives. It means they can pursue any line of inquiry that strikes their fancy and teach themselves about things that go way beyond their schools’ prescribed curriculum. But it also means they are more likely to come across information that has not been fact-checked or vetted by anyone with any expertise. They are more likely to stumble across content that can mislead or harm them. And there’s more: Just like everyone else, students also now have the ability to create their own content and share it with the world, which is both an incredible opportunity and a potential minefield of problems.

This reality isn’t going to reverse itself; the channels for consuming and creating content will only become more abundant and easier to access, so our job now, instead of trying to control what stuff reaches our students or restrict their ability to contribute to that growing body of stuff, is to teach them how to participate in the system effectively: arm them with finely tuned critical thinking skills and a clear understanding of the ethics of content creation. 

In other words, we need to build our students’ media and news literacy.

My guest today is Kelly Mendoza, Vice President of Education Programs for Common Sense Education. I’ve been a huge fan of the Common Sense platform for years; they offer fantastic reviews of movies, TV shows, books, and video games that help parents figure out if a particular piece of media is appropriate for their kids. They also offer a really solid, completely free digital citizenship curriculum that covers a wide variety of topics, including media and news literacy, which we’ll be talking about today. In this episode, Kelly and I talk about that particular segment of the curriculum, and we take a close look at three specific lessons: one for grade 4 on a creator’s rights and responsibilities,  one for grade 6 on finding credible news, and one for grade 10 on confirmation bias. These will not only give you a taste of what Common Sense’s curriculum has to offer, but it might also spark some ideas for how to approach media and news literacy in your own lessons.

Before we start I’d like to thank Applied Digital Skills for sponsoring this episode. Applied Digital Skills is a program from Google consisting of interactive video lessons that teach practical digital skills needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow. And it’s completely free! There are tons of great lessons to choose from and students will walk away with valuable new skills like building a resume, developing a presentation, or creating a research plan. Popular lessons include using conditional formatting to create pixel art in Google Sheets, learning how to store, access, and share documents, presentations, and photos in Google Drive, and leveraging Google Slides to create an interactive If-Then Adventure story. You can easily integrate these lessons into your curriculum and they work well for remote, hybrid, and in-person learning. Plus, Applied Digital Skills connects to Google Classroom so you can seamlessly import your roster and get started in just a few clicks. To check out these easy-to-use lessons today, visit

Support also comes from Fearless Schools. The stress level in schools is higher than ever and the need for psychological safety for students and staff members has never been greater.  Fearless Schools, newly created by Douglas Reeves and Creative Leadership Solutions, provides an evidence-based approach to transform a fearful school environment into one of joy, confidence, and optimism.  We don’t need new initiatives right now – we need fearless schools.  Learn more at

Now here’s my conversation with Kelly Mendoza from Common Sense Education.

GONZALEZ: Hey, Kelly. Welcome to the podcast. 

MENDOZA: Hi. Thanks for having me. 

GONZALEZ: So we are going to be talking today about news and media literacy, and that is just one small piece of what you all do over at Common Sense Media. Well, I guess I should first ask, Common Sense Media and Common Sense Education. Is the Education a branch of the larger umbrella of Common Sense Media?

MENDOZA: Yes, yes. 


MENDOZA: It’s actually Common Sense, and we have many different things that we do, so education is one area. 


MENDOZA: So we are Common Sense Education, and that’s all K-12 education. 

GONZALEZ: Okay. And you are one of the people way up at the top of that umbrella there, the vice president of education programs, so that’s your specialty area there. 

MENDOZA: Yes, yep.

GONZALEZ: So you guys have a digital citizenship curriculum that’s been there for quite a while. I’ve been aware of it for a long time and have been just impressed by it, by the scope of it. Could we start by having you just tell us a little bit about what the curriculum is, what it offers, and then we’re going to actually dive deeper into the news and media literacy piece of it. 

MENDOZA: Sure. So we’re all about providing families and educators the resources they need to help kids thrive in a world of media and technology. So in education, one of the ways we do that is through the digital citizenship curriculum. This all came about, it was the late 2000s where we were hearing from schools around challenges they were facing around kids and technology as they were integrating technology. At the time, it was stranger danger, who kids are talking to online, internet safety issues. There was, cyberbullying continues to be a constant kind of pain point of how kids are treating each other. So through our philanthropic funders, at the time it was, MacArthur was a big funder, we launched our digital citizenship curriculum in 2010. Since then it’s been through many different iterations because any curriculum on media and technology has to stay up to date. And news and media literacy is something we heard in the last few years that was just much more of a pain point with educators. As we are getting our news more through social media and so are kids, and as we’re living in an age of mis and disinformation. So that came to be much more of a prominent topic in the curriculum. There’s a few things just to know about it. It is K-12 with 73 lessons. It’s typically starting at third grade, second grade. We have six lessons per grade level, and we cover six different topics, which I’ll go over in a second. 


MENDOZA: But it’s research based. So we have a partnership with, it’s called The Good Play Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Originally that was Howard Gardner, and now we work with Carrie James and Emily Weinstein who are our research partners to make sure that the curriculum, the topics that we cover, the approaches that we use are based in research and based on the latest ways that we know to teach students these skills. So what the approach is, is both skills in digital citizenship and habits of mind or what we call dispositions. I think that’s a differentiator that we want to build habits of mind in students so that when they face these issues in their everyday lives, they have a toolkit to make decisions in their own lives. So we continue to have it be research-based, and we take a whole community approach. So by that I mean yes, we have lesson plans, and we have online professional development for teachers for free. And then we also have take-home resources, and we hear a lot of families going to schools, wanting information about how to support their parenting in a digital age. What do I do? So we always have a take-home resource with each lesson for families, whether it’s a short activity they could do together or conversation starter tips, because they need support as well. You’re building a culture of digital citizenship, so we try to provide the resources to do that. Lastly, it’s pretty comprehensive, so we cover six different topics, as I mentioned before. News and media literacy is one of them, which we’re talking about today, but we also cover what we call media balance and well-being. So it’s kind of beyond screen time but balancing media in your life with all the other important things in your life. We do cover privacy and security issues, what we call digital footprint and identity issues, how you’re building a digital footprint and your identity online. Relationships, and communication is another topic of how we communicate with others and build relationships and communities. Cyberbullying and digital drama and hate speech is another main topic that continues to evolve. Hate speech is something we added just a couple of years ago because it was such a real issue that was emerging in school communities. 


MENDOZA: News and media literacy is what we’re focused on today. So we see news and media literacy as an important component under the umbrella of digital citizenship. 

GONZALEZ: Yes, absolutely, and I agree that there has been much more of a need for that in the past couple of years. So when your team started to put that together, what was sort of your guiding philosophy behind what you wanted to get at? Obviously for the different grade levels, there’s different developmental levels too in terms of what students are able to understand and handle. So yeah, tell us a little bit about sort of what drove the overall creation, and then what we’re going to do, for people listening, is we’re going to actually kind of preview a couple of the lessons so that listeners get an idea of the kinds of things they can try with their students and what you guys have to offer. 

MENDOZA: Great. Yeah, definitely. So just personally, media literacy is near and dear to my heart. It’s my background. It’s where my PhD was focused. And so this is such a great and exciting part of the curriculum. And media literacy, more broadly, is its own umbrella of a lot of different areas. But people think, what is media literacy? They think of it as analysis, but it’s actually a whole set of skills of accessing, analyzing, evaluating, and creating media. And the general idea of media literacy, it’s literacy for the 21st century because students are growing up looking at websites, videos, music, and it’s understanding how to read those different media forms and understanding what’s behind it. And it’s also inquiry-based, so it’s a lot of asking questions about what we see, read, and hear, and that’s one of the guiding philosophies behind the news literacy lessons. You’re going to see a lot of question frameworks in there. So overall, with news and media literacy, students ask the question, how can I think critically about what I see and what I create? And you could apply that question across all grade levels in different ways. I will say that we start the news literacy in fifth grade just because the level of analysis and critical thinking is deeper at that age. And they’re starting to understand, pay attention, like there’s current events and things happening, that may be not so much in the lower grades. So we do start some basic media literacy in the lower grades. But three philosophies that guide our approach here. One is that as a digital citizen, you have rights and responsibilities, and so we use a framework called the rings of responsibility. Oftentimes with digital citizenship, I think it’s like, well what is the impact on you, and what’s your behavior as a digital citizen? But in fact, all your behaviors and decisions have a ripple effect on other people in online community whether you know them or whether you don’t know them, and you have responsibilities to others. So, for instance, if you like or share a piece of mis and disinformation, you’re having an impact on the online global community. If you are creating something and you use somebody’s work without their permission, and that has an impact on the global community. So it’s your rights and responsibilities as a consumer and a creator. And so we do weave in that rings of responsibility throughout, in different ways. The second point, which I really love, is be critical , not cynical. We don’t want to, we don’t want students to think like, “Everything’s a lie,” and “I can’t believe anything I read online, and I can’t believe anybody,” because that’s not true. 


MENDOZA: I mean people, there’s experts, there’s validation through journalistic processes. And so as students get through the curriculum, they learn about these things. So we don’t want them walking away cynical but critical. And the point of media literacy and news literacy is pulling back the curtain and understanding, asking questions. Who’s the author? What’s their intent? What’s their message? And what are the implications? So it’s a lot of inquiry, and the thing is students may have different opinions, oftentimes, and that is core to media literacy. You’re having conversations, and there’s not necessarily a complete black and white, right or wrong answer. So it’s an inquiry-based lens. Then lastly, especially in high school, we don’t want to just debunk mis and disinformation and say, okay, that’s the goal here. It’s actually, gets more deep, deeper into value systems. So as you look at what people, students learn about, and we’ll talk about this, confirmation bias and corroboration, as you learn about these things, you learn, especially with confirmation bias, we need to look at ourselves and our role as a news literate digital citizen, and also the systems that that’s working within. I mean the internet is an advertising-driven system, so the economics of the internet set us up in ways that maybe are not the best way to share accurate and credible information. There’s also value systems around what we share and the implications on our own identity and what we believe. So it gets way more deep into that. 


MENDOZA: So it’s not just about the information, but it’s the connections with the systems that it’s within. And that comes later in high school where a lot of that, the learnings happen there. 

GONZALEZ: This is, we haven’t even gotten into the lessons yet, but I’m already just really impressed by the depth and the thoughtfulness behind a lot of this, that it’s not, it’s clear that you all have taken a lot of time to think about this. And I’m also thinking too that it’s, I know that a lot of teachers, particularly this year, are feeling paralyzed in terms of whether or not they can discuss anything at all that might be controversial or considered controversial with parents. And it sounds like a lot of what you’ve done is not kept things neutral but kept it much more inquiry-based and left room for kids to come to the conversation with different opinions as opposed to what a lot of parents are currently accusing school systems of doing, which is just that they’re pushing one specific line of thinking with no gray areas and no room for any kind of discussion or anything. It sounds like what you all have done is basically turned the questions over to the students and getting them thinking about things as opposed to just saying, “This is how it is, and this is how you have to think about it,” and that’s it. 

MENDOZA: Yes, exactly. Because isn’t that what we want? We want to have the right questions to ask to make our own decisions in our lives, but we want to equip students with those questions. 


MENDOZA: So yeah, and I understand the climate that we’re in, that it’s, I think, the one point I want to make about media literacy, it’s just, it’s broader than just the information itself that we’re analyzing and evaluating. It’s about the systems and the value systems too. And it’s ways to start these conversations about these issues as well. 

GONZALEZ: So let’s get into the first one. We’re going to start by looking at a fourth-grade lesson, and these are all sort of generally recommended. Teachers can pull from different age groups if they want to, but this is the recommended age, and it is A Creator’s Rights and Responsibilities. And I like the fact that you all are including the creation of content because we are all now content creators in some way. If anybody who even just has their own personal social media account and posts occasionally is a content creator. So looking at it that way, I think that’s an interesting kind of flip on the whole idea. 


GONZALEZ: So I’m going to actually open up the lesson while we’re talking. 

MENDOZA: Great. Yes, so this is a fourth-grade lesson. It’s really a lesson about learning about copyright and introduce intellectual property. These are important aspects of media literacy, as a creator. And you’re right, we’re all creating, whether you post one comment. That’s a form of creation and sharing, or whether you are creating and posting a video. 


MENDOZA: That’s a deeper form of creation. And we know that these tools, like TikTok and others, make it really easy to be a creator. But the reality is there’s responsibilities in creation. So in this lesson, students are learning about defining copyright and how it applies to their creative work, describing the rights and responsibilities as creators and applying those principles to real life scenarios, whether it’s kind of school scenarios like writing a report, which is what the lesson is focused on, or creating presentation slides or other kinds of scenarios. So one of the, one of the things I noticed in media literacy is that a lot of teachers, they think of it as like analysis, kids analyzing media. 


MENDOZA: But it’s all about creation and youth media production, and that’s where we get to go into student voice and sharing and expressing themselves, and then learning as a creator how to write media in different ways. But part of that is that I think there’s also a sentiment of kids, like, oh, if it’s online, it’s mine. I get to use it. I get to use whatever I want. It’s free game. 


MENDOZA: And that’s just not true. So there are, there are rights and responsibilities, there are special rights that schools have to fair use. And so we do offer notes for teachers around kind of the fair use implications, but a lot of the times students are creating things that then go outside of the school walls. 


MENDOZA: And that’s where we want to even get them thinking about that from the get-go, because they may want to share it beyond school walls, and then it’s going to have a whole different set of rules. 


MENDOZA: So in this lesson, students are thinking about, in the beginning, the last time they created something and whether they used somebody else’s stuff in their creation, like a photo they found online or a quote from somebody or something, a video. And you’re introducing the concept of copyright, that when we create something, that it’s automatically copyrighted, and I don’t think students understand that. Like, that’s yours. When you create something original or unique, that’s yours, that you actually have a copyright now, even if it doesn’t have that little C-symbol on it. And so then students can break into pairs or small groups, and we have an activity with a handout that’s a vocabulary-building activity, but it’s important vocabulary to know. So copyright, intellectual property, attribution, license, and plagiarism. There’s a lot of stuff in there, but students can work together filling in the blank in a scenario, and we use a lot of scenarios and dilemmas, by the way, in the curriculum. 


MENDOZA: But this scenario is with a character, a digital citizen character that we use in elementary called Head. And so Head, the dilemma is Head took a photo at the local parade, and then a few days later found that the pizza place, the local pizza place, posted the photo without permission. So they somehow, Head maybe shared the photo on his social profile, and here’s the pizza place using this photo. Is that, what would you do? What would you do if that happened to you? And so now students are exploring, as a creator, that they have ownership. 


MENDOZA: And that’s where they get really invested when it comes down to, well, I would allow them to use it. Well, I would want to make money off of it. There’s a lot of different options. 


MENDOZA: They learn a framework called ask and attribute, which they can then apply to, a lot of students at this age are creating slides, and they’re pulling photos to put in the slides for reports and presentations. So ask means ask, can I use this photo? Let’s look at the copyright. If there’s no information about it, you have to assume it’s copyright, and you do have to get permission, legally, from the author to use it. But then you can introduce them to other forms of licensing like royalty free. Or there are people who put their photos for free. 


MENDOZA: Flickr and so forth. 


MENDOZA: And then attribute, we always recommend attribution, for photos even. My daughter is in fifth grade, so I even see this. Sometimes she’s not citing her photos for reports, and I’m kind of a stickler, and I’m saying, you need to cite. Even if it’s a page at the end, or however you want to do your own citation style as a teacher. I mean at fourth grade, it’s usually not full-on APA or MLA style. 

GONZALEZ: Right, yeah. 

MENDOZA: But you do need to cite where those things came from and who created them, and so the ask, attribute process is something that’s, that they’re applying then to another scenario in the end around plagiarism. And you’ll have to find, go to the lesson to see what the results of that scenario is. 

GONZALEZ: Okay, okay. 

MENDOZA: But, you know, like I said before, in this lesson, students are realizing once they think about their own creative work, then they get much more invested. And once they think about, even ways to make money or share or for the better good, all sorts of ways they can share that work, that gets them really invested rather than that consuming culture. 

GONZALEZ: Right. It’s interesting. It really humanizes every single digital asset on the internet too. You realize there is, somebody made that, you know. And having them be put in the shoes of the person who made something, especially for kids that are 10 years old that have probably never had to think about it that way. 

MENDOZA: Yeah. It’s a great lesson. You know, if you’re starting your first, they’re doing their first research reports or presentation slides and so forth, to set them up. It’s good also to start these things in the younger grades, so just start this habit of like, oh, I make sure that I cite things, and I make sure I’m not plagiarizing. That’s just a habit. 


MENDOZA: But once you do it, you just, you know, that’s a standard part of your writing process. 

GONZALEZ: It’s so easy to cut corners on that in school because you just say, well, it’s just a school project. And probably it is legally okay, but then you’re not building the habits. 

MENDOZA: Exactly. 

GONZALEZ: And you never know where these things might end up, especially if they’re really good. The thing that you created might actually be something that does get shared beyond the walls of your school, and then suddenly you have copyright issues. 

MENDOZA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I have seen that. 


MENDOZA: I have seen schools, they’ve, if I could share a quick example. 


MENDOZA: It’s like the end of school event or graduation or whatever they want to post, and they use some copyrighted song. 


MENDOZA: Or they can’t share it, or it has to be taken down. 


MENDOZA: And so it’s a fun exercise to help students, like maybe they could create their own song, or what could they do so that they could share it? Yeah. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. So the next one we’re going to look at is a sixth-grade lesson called Finding Credible News. 

MENDOZA: Yes. So, okay, so sixth grade. We’re getting much more into the news literacy skills. And at this time we know from our own research at Common Sense that kids, teens, tweens, and teens are getting their news from social media, period. That’s just where they’re getting their news. 


MENDOZA: And so in this, this is kind of foundational skills, and students ask the question, how can we find credible information on the internet? So they’re learning to, a process to identify, evaluate and use information effectively and find trustworthy sources. And they’re also learning about how individuals are maybe influenced by the media and the stereotypes and other things they promote. So we’ll get into the example of that. So in this lesson, you start off, or you could start off with any example, but we have a little example in our slides with a screenshot that’s about corn and the dangers of corn, and that corn is a very dangerous substance. 


MENDOZA: And did you know that? Because I read it online, and then you show this slide. It looks like Wikipedia. It’s actually called Uncyclopedia, but it looks like Wikipedia. 

GONZALEZ: Okay, yeah. 

MENDOZA: Did you know this about the dangers of corn? And so you’re just getting students engaged. And was this surprising to you? How could this be on a site like Wikipedia? So you’re revealing that ultimately this is sort of meant to be a joke, but that they’re going to learn strategies around whether information is credible or not. 


MENDOZA: And I’m sure they have plenty of examples already of encountering things that they maybe found out later that weren’t credible. 


MENDOZA: So next is sort of the main crux activity of the lesson. Students can work in pairs or in groups, and they’ll be evaluating the credibility of three articles that we provide them on lowering the voting age. So this is sixth grade, and they’re starting to learn about their role as a citizen, and so the topic they’re exploring is, should we lower the voting age, right, from 18 to younger? And they’re visiting the three articles. One is from Vox, one is from, and the other is from the Dynamite Daily. So using a graphic organizer, they examine these three areas. First, and this is the sort of frameworks that, one of the frameworks we provide. Read closely, analyze the source, and look for corroboration. So you would start by modeling those steps in front of the class with the first article, the Vox article. So reading closely means is it believable? Does it make sense? Is there anything surprising or hard to believe or that has a strong emotional reaction? Because we know that with mis and disinformation, the emotional reaction and something a little bit hard to believe but making you feel strongly might be a telltale sign that it’s maybe not credible. 

GONZALEZ: Right. Yeah. 

MENDOZA: Right? Not always, but something to pay attention to. The next is analyzing the source. So does it come from a credible unbiased source? So this means you have to actually go search for the author, the organization, the website and try to find out more about that. It doesn’t mean just looking on the web page itself. It means going to other sites to search for the source, right? Which kind of leads to the next step which is looking for corroboration. That means that you are opening up new tabs, and you’re looking for, corroboration is other sources that validate the key points of the article or what’s being said. So do other credible sources say the same thing? And what students are learning in that step, it’s called lateral reading, and it’s a key skill for news literacy. Lateral reading means as you’re reading, and it’s just like, imagine you have your browser open, and you have the one article, and you should be opening up other articles find corroboration. That is a modern form of reading. 

GONZALEZ: I didn’t know that had a name. 


GONZALEZ: Yeah, that sounds very familiar, but yeah. 

MENDOZA: And that’s what fact-checkers do. 


MENDOZA: The mantra is get off the page. So they may encounter something, get off the page, and then you’re finding other validation or corroboration. So after you model that, then the students go and do the same thing with the next two articles. And they’re ultimately making a call. Is this credible? Is it questionable? Or is it just not credible at all? And they can do this working in groups. And so they’re practicing this three-step process. And then ultimately, they’re sharing their findings with the class and seeing if they’re on the same page there. 


MENDOZA: So basically the first article from Vox is like the most credible, right? And so we do provide teacher guides, by the way, so you have some context to help you have the context. 


MENDOZA: The second article about lowering the voting age,, that, you know, they, there was definitely valid points in that article, but then we talk about bias. So in that article,, hmm, what do you think? Do they have a bias around lowering the voting age? 


MENDOZA: Do you think that this is maybe a little bit skewed to a particular perspective and why? And who is So this is getting a little bit more into introducing the concept of bias and how that might influence the information being presented. The last article is the Dynamite Daily. That is one that is actually not credible at all, and there’s some celebrity influencers in that article, and some other complete inaccurate information that we hope that students catch as they’re reading around lowering the voting age. So ultimately, you know, the articles are falling in different places, but it’s modeling the disposition of slowing down. So I think one of the problems in the digital age is everything is so quick and fast to react and read very quickly. And the reality is you do have to slow down and do some due diligence, and it’s a habit of mind and it’s a pattern of behavior. And so it’s, slowing down is what fact-checkers do. They slow down, they do the lateral reading. And it’s not to say that we’re going to do that with every bit of information, but we want students to at least be engaging in those questions as they encounter information. 

GONZALEZ: Right, right. 

MENDOZA: So I just wanted to add, at the end of each of our lessons, we do have a short three-question quiz, like a multiple-choice quiz typically, if you want to use that. It’s optional. And then we always have our take-home resources for families. 

GONZALEZ: Fantastic. So the last one we’re going to look at is for grade 10, and this is on challenging confirmation bias. 

MENDOZA: Yes. So here we’re getting into some of the things you were interested in earlier, because this is getting into some really interesting topics.


MENDOZA: So confirmation bias. So basically our brains are wired to pull from previous experiences and our identity as we encounter information. Confirmation bias is basically a tendency for us to interpret information in ways that affirms what we already believe, and, not to mention, the internet is built with the algorithms that serve up information, tends to serve us up information that validates what we already believe. 


MENDOZA: So this is, students are asking, how can we challenge our own confirmation bias? Because everybody has confirmation bias. You’re not immune to confirmation bias. And so let’s just start from the fact that everybody has this. And so to begin the lesson in the warmup, the main activity there is watching a video from KQED’s Above the Noise. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen any of those videos. They’re fantastic, KQED Education. 

GONZALEZ: I’ll look it up. 

MENDOZA: And we have a partnership with them. They have fantastic videos for high school on a lot of different big, big questions. So in this video, the host is asking the question, why does confirmation bias make us more likely to be fooled by things? In this case it could be so-called fake news or misinformation. 


MENDOZA: So students are actively viewing that video and taking notes on, why does confirmation bias happen? And what can we do about it? So some of the reasons why this happens is because it’s hard to change our mind once we’ve drawn a conclusion, and it takes more than just presenting information. There’s other things that maybe have to go on there. We intend to prioritize emotion over reason. That’s why some of the, you know, the clickbait and the fake news things, they’re highly emotionally charged. 


MENDOZA: Well, that’s a tactic that is used by the people creating those things. 

GONZALEZ: It works. 

MENDOZA: Then also we try to, our brain tries to protect relationships in our tribe or the community we’re in, and we tend to be skeptical of ideas that are outside of our own community. So there’s a lot of kind of identity things in this lesson that are interesting for 10th graders to explore. 


MENDOZA: And so students first, from the video, they recognize they have confirmation bias and that they need to be able to research and break down what that might be and try to get outside and take perspectives of people that they might disagree with and explore what those are. So then the next activity, we often provide curated articles and things that we like, for high school, which is kind of simulating what they are going to be starting to do in college as they’re doing research and so forth. So we have some articles on confirmation bias, which provide different tips and strategies on how to combat confirmation bias. And so students are using a graphic organizer to take notes and read, do some active reading. And then they can either individually or pairs or work together, however you like to organize your students, create a mnemonic device to combat confirmation bias. So that could be, like, an example would be, here’s an example, coal, C-O-A-L. So C is consider your biases, O is open your mind, A is ask questions, and L is look for other sources. So they’re creating a memorable strategies to think about, well, how can I deal with my own confirmation bias? 


MENDOZA: And then students can either present those or you could do a gallery walk or put them on Padlet and have them react to each other’s mnemonic devices. And you could even take it a step further and apply it to other kinds of scenarios and dilemmas beyond that. But I think, what I like about this is it’s not, we tend to think like, well I know the truth, or I know what’s going on. The reality is we all have this confirmation bias and have to acknowledge it, and we all have to try to get outside of our own bubbles and take perspectives, and taking perspectives is a disposition that’s highly throughout the digital citizenship curriculum. 

GONZALEZ: Nice. This is very important right now. So we’ve barely scratched the surface of everything that you all offer there, but I’m hoping that this has at least given people a lot of interest. So if after hearing this they want to see the whole thing and learn more about this, this is completely free, by the way. Correct? 

MENDOZA: Yes, yep. 

GONZALEZ: So where should they go? We’re also going to provide links to everything over on my site too. 

MENDOZA: Yes, so they can, educators, you can go to, and you’ll see everything there. 


MENDOZA: It’s all available for free to you. The digital citizenship curriculum is available for free. And then we also have a news and media literacy center where we have a curation of the lessons and resources available to you there as well that you’ll see. 


MENDOZA: So head on over. 

GONZALEZ: Okay. Thank you so much. This is, I’m just really sort of, I knew about the curriculum forever. I’ve always been super impressed by Common Sense as an organization, but hearing about some of these specific activities, it just confirms basically what I already believed about your stuff, which is that it’s just super, super high-quality and people just really can’t go wrong going and taking advantage of it. So thank you all for the great work that you do. 

MENDOZA: Great. Thanks so much, Jenn.

For more information on the Common Sense Digital Literacy curriculum, visit, click Podcast, and choose episode 184. To get a bimonthly email from me about my newest blog posts, podcast episodes, courses and products, sign up for my mailing list at Thanks so much for listening, and have a great day.