I’ve come across a few free sites that I have linked on my library website for faculty and student use. They provide either a balance of opinions on current issues or do some fact checking. We have a subscription of Ebsco’s Points of View provided by our state but I am always on the lookout for more free reliable sites that will benefit our students when researching and I feel that these will help them in forming their own opinions. Many of the topics covered are typical of the current issues that our students research for papers and they will be relevant when discussing the coming election in class.
The first site is ProCon.org. This site provides information on both sides of current controversial issues. When you select an issue such as illegal immigration, medical marijuana, climate change, or the Keystone pipeline a separate page opens that provides Did You Know facts, background information, pro and con arguments, and a video gallery. There are also links to footnotes, sources and source biographies.
I had a social studies teacher in the library this past week and we used this site with her students. The students were in groups and had formed their own political parties and had to come up with their own positions for their parties’ platforms on a select list of current issues that the teacher provided. The site gave them a good jumping off point to form and come to an agreement on their parties’ positions. Each group will be presenting their political party’s platforms in their class next week for comparison and discussion.
ProCon.org has also added a 2016 Presidential Election: The Candidates and Where They Stand on the Issues page. It provides sourced information about where each presidential candidate stands on important issues ranging from gun control, taxes, health care, energy and the economy which includes statements made by the politicians. Students can also pull up a comparison chart of the candidates to see how each one stands on the issues.
The other site that I have come across is AllSides.com. This site aggregates news articles on issues from the left, center and right and designates them as such. Students are then able to view the bias on how news sources provide information. The site’s homepage opens with the latest news feeds but can also be searched by specific issues. AllSides has also added a school program geared towards grades 6-12. It provides online interactive tools that a teacher can use to create an in-class program that fosters skills in critical thinking, civil dialog, research and collaboration. This site would not only be pertinent to social studies lessons but also to a media literacy class.
The last site I have added is FactCheck.org which has been available for a long time. FactCheck monitors the factual accuracy of what political players from across the country say in speeches, interviews, debates and TV ads. The site has current issues posted on its home page and the archives can be searched by date, politician, issue and location.
Have you come across any other sites that you have found helpful to your students for information on current issues such as these?
Author: Joann Absi
I am the media coordinator at Eugene Ashley High School in Wilmington, NC. I have had positions at elementary, middle and high school libraries during my career. I am a past president of NCSLMA. Currently I am serving as the Communications Chair for NCSLMA and a member of AASL/ALSC/YALSA School/Public Library Cooperation.