Studying an intelligent animal using artificial intelligence

Studying an intelligent animal using artificial intelligence

Lots of people watch whales. But telling males and females apart and one whale from another takes special expertise. One researcher is using AI to do that. A whale leaps out of the water. Credit: Josianne Bouffard  This article, by high school student Keya Dutt, was...

This piece, by youth correspondent Keya Dutt of News Decoder partner institution School Year Abroad, dives into the world of marine science and artificial intelligence. Through interviews with a veterinarian working with whales off the coast of Mozambique, the article discusses the implications of AI for experts trying to learn more about life under the sea.

Exercise: Artificial intelligence has varying effects on different groups of people. Help students adopt multiple perspectives by engaging in a “Circle of Viewpoints” activity after reading the article. In groups of five, students will each adopt a distinct persona to answer the following questions: Should artificial intelligence be allowed in secondary schools? What, if any, should be the limitations to using this tool? Personas may range from: student, school principal, parent/guardian, classroom teacher, AI developer in your local community. In each group, give students 10 minutes to independently brainstorm the pros and cons of using AI in the classroom, then 20-30 minutes to come to a consensus as a group. All groups should then share their final conclusions with the class and reflect on the process of adopting multiple perspectives.

Navigating a world of preconceptions

Navigating a world of preconceptions

We carry complicated identities inside us. But others see only the outside and they carry their own biases. That can result in privilege or prejudice. A man holds a placard. Photo illustration by News Decoder.  This article was produced exclusively for News Decoder’s...

The way we perceive others and ourselves shapes our lived experiences and may result in privilege or prejudice. In this article, correspondent Jeremy Solomons reflects on his own identity as a Jewish man who grew up in England with Lebanese and Persian heritage.

Exercise: Read the article with your class. Then, introduce the Big 8 Identities as a framework for understanding the complexities of identity. Independently, students should identify their Big 8, then discuss the implications of these identities in small groups of three or four. Which elements of your students’ “Big 8” may grant them privilege or subject them to prejudice? How might this change given various cultural contexts? Note: A level of trust and comfort is required for this activity to run effectively. 

What happens when friendship has no benefits?

What happens when friendship has no benefits?

Western nations worry about the bond between Russia and China. But perhaps they should consider the possible consequences if this friendship breaks down. Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to Chinese President Xi Jinping during a summit in Uzbekistan on 16...

The alliance between Russia and China is more fragile than their purported “friendship without limits”. What can history tell us about the Moscow-Beijing connection? And why does it matter? Decode the geopolitical context for your students in this article by Braden Holt of News Decoder partner institution Indiana University.

Exercise: After reading the article, students should select one paragraph that they feel best captures the central idea of the text. Then, they should pare this paragraph down to one sentence, then one phrase and one word. Through this process, students learn to discern and communicate the main idea of a complicated text, a skill they can use in all disciplines. Have students share their final word with classmates. Can the class come to a consensus for one word that best describes the text?

Maybe you can handle the truth. But can you verify it?

Maybe you can handle the truth. But can you verify it?

Making sure that information is true isn’t easy. Our correspondent takes you through the arduous process of fact-checking a news story. Illustration by Ana Schwartz for News Decoder When I first started out in journalism as a 17-year-old, I had never heard of...

Correspondent Norma Hilton models the process of fact-checking in this important article for students and adults alike. In a world inundated with instantaneous information at our fingertips, knowing how to distinguish fact from fiction is ever-critical.

Exercise: After reading the article, have students dissect the fact-checking process modeled in the text. Prompt a class discussion on what the process looks like in practice, step-by-step. Did anything about the process surprise them? Then, in pairs, students should fact-check a short news text (either one they’ve selected or one you provide to them). Which sources should they examine to confirm that the text is credible?

Decoder: Why Japan matters more than ever

Decoder: Why Japan matters more than ever

Japan remains a global economic powerhouse and is becoming an ever closer political partner of the West. People walk at a pedestrian crossing in Ginza shopping district in Tokyo, Japan, 31 March 2023. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)  This article was produced exclusively...

ND correspondent and Asia specialist John West takes students to Japan in this Decoder explaining the island nation’s growing geopolitical importance and evolving defense strategy. Ranked the 17th-most democratic country in the world ahead of both the United States and France, Japan remains a key Western ally in a region fraught with tension.

Exercise: Geography has always played a significant role in the founding of civilizations and countries, shaping a nation’s economy and security. Launch a class discussion about how Japan’s geographic location and topography may have influenced the developments described in the article. Then, have students brainstorm how your country’s own geographic location (and geographic features like mountains, water sources, etc.) affects its role and influence on a world stage. This exercise is particularly well-suited to be a complementary lesson after students learn about the conditions of Japan’s surrender after World War II, highlighting the lasting effects of history in the present day.

What’s your question?

What’s your question?

To get good stories you need to start with simple questions. The answers will be complicated. Reporters at a press conference raise their hands to ask a question. (Credit: Comstock) What’s your question? Journalists ask questions. Lots and lots and lots of questions....

In this piece, News Decoder editors help students develop a line of inquiry and questioning that can lead to solutions journalism. To get good stories, students should start with simple questions with big answers.

Exercise: After students read the article, have them brainstorm simple questions about the world around them that may lead to a great story. Perhaps students are curious about the options on their school lunch menu, or about why football is called “soccer” in some countries. Students should then consider who they may ask/interview to answer their question. This activity may be paired with a classroom writing assignment. If students produce a finished story, they are eligible to pitch the article to our team, with the possibility of publication on our site.

When nurses cannot do their job

When nurses cannot do their job

The Taliban are pressuring female nurses in Afghanistan to quit, further intensifying a medical and humanitarian crisis there. Afghan nurses wait to receive their salaries outside an administrating office at the Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital, in Kabul,...

ND writer Rafiullah Nikzad shares the perspective of female nurses in Afghanistan, who are being pressured to quit the profession in large numbers. With the Taliban in power, Afghan women are facing growing limits to freedom and choice — with significant humanitarian consequences.

Exercise: This article hones in on a specific country and profession, serving as a case study of gender inequality in Afghanistan. Read the article together as a class, then discuss how issues of gender inequality affect your local community. Have students take a look at these infographics from UN Women to spark discussion. Which statistics are surprising? What are some actions that may be implemented in your local community (school, city, country) to achieve gender parity?

From caviar to conservation: Saving the Atlantic sturgeon

From caviar to conservation: Saving the Atlantic sturgeon

To bring a fish back from the brink of extinction, people must push for protection over pollution. An Atlantic sturgeon. (Credit: Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control)  This article, by high school student Annette Khosravi, was produced...

Student author Annette Khosravi from ND school partner The Tatnall School delves into the world of conservation in this piece about saving the Atlantic sturgeon. Highlighting News Decoder’s mission to connect the local to the global, this text serves as an example of how local activism may lead to widespread positive impacts.

Exercise: Ask students to look into the environmental and social organizations in your local community. What types of local groups could they contribute to? What is the broader significance of civic engagement? After completing their research, students should each come up with and present a 90-second “elevator pitch” for the organization they researched, including a specific call to action for others to get involved.

From refuse to reuse: Removing plastic from the table

From refuse to reuse: Removing plastic from the table

To keep plastics out of the waste system, Ved Krishna decided to change the way food service products were made. Yash Pakka founder Ved Krishna. Photo courtesy of Ved Krishna. This article, by author Samaya Chauhan, was a Silver Prize winner in the Climate Champion...

This article, from youth author Samaya Chauhan of India, won a Silver Prize in our Climate Champion Profiles Challenge, organized in partnership with Global Youth & News Media. Samaya profiles Ved Krishna, an entrepreneur and innovator who sees climate solutions in the ordinary and quotidian.

Exercise: Divide students into groups of two to three. In these groups, have them brainstorm items they use every day that may contribute to climate change. Examples may include: cell phone, water bottle, pieces of clothing, backpack, etc. How might these everyday, commonplace items be re-conceptualized so they support positive climate action? Look back to Ved Krishna’s profile for inspiration. 

Decoder: Don’t expect technology to save the planet

Decoder: Don’t expect technology to save the planet

In the movies, the solution for global disasters comes at the nail-biting end. Not so in real life. It won’t be The Rock that saves this rock we live on. Dr. Ally Hextall, played by Jennifer Ehle, tries to save the world from a virus in the movie Contagion. ...

In the fight against climate change, technology is often seen as a panacea that absolves corporations and individuals of the responsibility to act. The narrative reads as follows: with new technology, we can continue to live as we always have, without reducing consumption and waste. In this latest Decoder, correspondent Sarah Edmonds explains why this is not at all the case.

Exercise: The article decodes several types of climate technologies making headlines now, notably: nuclear energy, solar power, carbon capture, hydrogen and wind energy. Divide your class into five groups, each taking on one of these technologies to investigate. They should start with the information presented in the article, then conduct outside research online using reputable sources. Each group should then discuss the benefits and drawbacks of their assigned climate technology, and elect a spokesperson to share their findings with the class.

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