NLP Teams with M-DCPS on “PitchIt!” Student Essay Writing Contest – Miami’s Community Newspapers

Educators and students can win up to $100 for best essays about how news literacy education can make a difference

According to media reports, disinformation campaigns during the 2020 presidential campaign targeted toward the Latinx community caused confusion among its voters. In an effort to address this problem, the News Literacy Project is working with Miami-Dade County Public Schools to host “PitchIt!” – a student writing contest where the winners will receive up to $100 for their understanding of how news literacy fosters greater understanding of current events.

The contest is open to students in M-DCPS middle and high schools, and asks students to write a 500- to 1,000-word essay about a local, national or international story that would have benefited from news literacy skills being applied to stop misinformation from being spread about it. Students will choose from one of three prompts to consider the impact the story had and whether false claims about it could be debunked using reputable and verifiable sources of information. The prompts include explaining how the First Amendment protects freedom of the press; how citizens can fact-check well-known figures; and why sharing reliable information is a civic responsibility. 

Once submitted, participating schools and educators will choose up to three middle school winners and three high school winners. Those finalists will share their essay ideas with our “PitchIt!” judges – education reporters Colleen Wright of the Miami Herald and Jessica Bakeman of WLRN, Sout Florida’s NPR member station. The judges will choose the idea that would have best prevented misinformation from being spread. The winning student and teacher will each receive $100. Second-place finishers will receive $50 and third-place winners will be awarded $25.

“We’re very pleased to be working with Miami-Dade County Public Schools to encourage students to use their voices as a catalyst for positive change in our communities,” said Monica Valdes, NLP’s Miami Newslit Nation Ambassador. “Our learning goals for this contest include helping students analyze different types of misinformation and showcasing their ability to think critically about what is and is not verifiable information. When we fail to teach news literacy, we actively disempower students from being engaged members of their communities. That’s why we hope students and teachers from across the district will enter and participate.”

The winners will be chosen the week of May 24. The deadline for entries is May 15, 2021.

About the News Literacy Project
The News Literacy Project, a nonpartisan national education nonprofit, provides programs and resources for educators and the public to teach, learn and share the abilities needed to be smart, active consumers of news and information and equal and engaged participants in a democracy.

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