Student voices are catalysts for positive change in schools and communities. You can empower them to be well-informed and civically engaged when you participate in the News Literacy Project’s PitchIt! contest. This is an authentic way to get your middle and high school students to learn about and express their thoughts about current events from a news literacy perspective. In addition to exploring an issue important to them, they can help combat misinformation or work to protect freedom of the press. Created by NLP news literacy ambassador Monica Valdes in 2020 for Miami-area teachers, the contest has expanded to all in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

To have your students participate in PitchIt! and get the most out of it, use NLP’s free resources and curriculum guides. You choose the top essays from your class to submit for judging and prizes.

News literacy is the ability to identify credible news sources and separate fact from fiction. Participating students will follow essay prompts that ask them to consider a current event they care about. Topics for the prompts include analyzing the First Amendment, describing fact-checking skills, explaining the importance of sharing reliable information, and weighing the consequences of sharing falsehoods. “When we fail to teach news literacy, we actively disempower students from being engaged members of their communities,” said Miami-Dade County Public Schools social studies chair Monica Valdes, who helped launch PitchIt! in 2020. “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.”

For contest details specific to your Allegheny County, click here.