We’re here to help Americans of all ages become more interested and informed about our nation’s pressing issues.
Sometimes it’s not easy getting students to pay attention to topics like the nation’s economy or employment, even if the issues are directly relevant to their lives.
That’s why we’ve made this resource guide for teachers. Here at Face the Facts USA, we believe that knowledge is the first step to a strong citizenry, but the facts needs to be shared in ways that are fun and approachable – without taking sides.
In these pages you’ll find materials that present important facts in provocative and engaging ways. You’ll also find…
1. What is Face the Facts USA?
Face the Facts USA is a non-partisan educational effort that seeks to help Americans debunk myths about important issues, hold better conversations about the choices the nation faces and become more active and effective citizens. Face the Facts USA does this by delivering provocative facts about many of the big issues facing our country and organizing activities which promote dialogue and thoughtful consideration of public policy issues.
Face the Facts USA is supported by people from across the political spectrum who are frustrated by the current level of political discussion in this country and who want the choices we make to be based more fully on factual information. The project focuses on educating Americans and does not lobby for any particular solutions or promote any political point of view. The project is led by Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University, who was previously the CNN Bureau Chief in Washington, DC.
AmericaSpeaks works with Face the Facts to create opportunities for the public to engage with one another on these pressing national issues. AmericaSpeaks is a non-profit whose mission is to reinvigorate American Democracy by engaging citizens in the public decision-making that most impacts their lives.
2. Face the Facts USA and Schools
In the aftermath of the Presidential campaign, Face the Facts intends to hold a spotlight on the major issues facing the United States and what the nation’s newly elected leaders will do about them.
Face the Facts USA has created accessible information and activities that teachers can use in the classroom to bring public issues to life. The Face the Facts USA educational materials can be used to enhance lessons in history, government, social studies, civics and current affairs. The majority of these resources are suitable for high school and upper middle school students.
Face the Facts USA programs and materials are available free of charge -- on our website. Updates and new facts are sent regularly via email to those who sign up. The website also has numerous other learning activities that can be adapted for classroom use.
4. Materials and Resources for Teachers
We’ve got some excellent tools to help students better understand and explore complex policy issues.
Daily facts on important issues --- Face the Facts USA releases one new fact every weekday to inform and prompt further discussion about current events. Every fact comes with original visual media: an over-sized infographic, short video, or slide show. These are excellent tools to help students better understand and explore complex policy issues. Go to the website to search for useful facts or sign up to get newsworthy facts sent to your inbox daily.
Videos – Show your students a fact-based, short and punchy video to get the conversation going:
Face the Facts Debates - Two people, two different opinions about an important national issue. One moderator (veteran journalist Frank Sesno). These videos are short and lively. Find them at facethefactsusa.org/events/debates.
Facts First – These 1-2 minute videos give a thoughtful overview of each of the 10 issue areas addressed by Face the Facts. Go to the Facts button on the site navigation bar above and select an issue of your choice. The video will be at the top of the issue page.
Spreecasts- Expert guests, including policy experts and media representatives, discuss key issues. These video programs run 30 minutes. Visit our Spreecast page at spreecast.com/users/face-the-facts-usa.
Daily Fact Videos – Some of the daily facts are presented in the form of a 1-2 minute video.
Big Issue Hangouts– Average citizens from diverse backgrounds come together in an online video chat to discuss some of the key facts that have been presented and express their opinions on these issues. Typical run time is one hour. These can be found at the YouTube page for our partner AmericaSpeaks: youtube.com/user/americaspeaksdotorg.
Full Length TV Special - "The People Have Spoken," RLTV: http://www.facethefactsusa.org/rltv/spoken/
Online surveys—Short interactive surveys, where students can “React to the Facts,” provide an opportunity to learn some facts and then share their opinions.
Resources for research—Each fact has its own webpage, which includes a section titled “What Do Others Say?” that features links to resources on the issue that will help students do research on the topic.
Fact sheets – Go deep into an issue like Debt and Deficit or Jobs and the Economy with our four- page fact sheets. These resources provide an overview of the facts and describe the different choices available to deal with the issue.
Guide for small group discussions—Consider hosting a discussion in your class, with the support of our conversation guide. This resource provides guidance on how to have a structured discussion about the role of citizenship and the different perspectives people have on a selected issue. The fact sheets support small group discussion.
5. Suggested Classroom Activities
We know that young people have a lot to say about the issues facing the nation, if only given the opportunity. Here are a few ways that Face the Facts USA information and program resources can be used to educate students and stimulate thoughtful discussion.
Discuss and Explore Opinions
Use our compelling visuals to spark critical thinking and personal reflection. Project or print copies of an infographic on an issue which appeals to your students. Ask students to identify (1) if any of the information surprised them, (2) if there is other information that would be useful to know, and (3) how this information impacts where they think the country should be heading. In your discussions, see whether students who hold differing views can find common ground. We recommend using:
Host a debate! Divide the students into teamswhich will represent opposing approaches to solving an issue. Use information from our fact sheets to start them off. Find the fact sheets here http://www.facethefactsusa.org/discussions/
Let’s Get Critical. Ask your students to discuss how “facts” are portrayed in the media and by candidates for office. Consider showing a couple examples to get the ball rolling. Also ask students to suggest reasons why the media and political candidates take this approach.
Video Inspiration. Show students a Face the Facts video (we recommend the following).
Instruct students to identify one or more issues they want to know more about and to do research to gather related facts. Come together as a group at the end of this mini-project to share what they learned.
Fact or Opinion? Discuss the difference between facts and opinions. Show a Face the Facts video such as these.
Invite students to write down two facts, two opinions and two approaches they hear presented. Discuss as a class what the students heard.
Small Group Discussion. Break students into small groups to discuss an issue relevant to your learning objectives. Provide the discussion guide and supporting materials. Use more than one class period to complete the discussions if necessary. See facethefactsusa.org/get-involved/discussions
Digging Deeper. Provide students with one or more facts from the Face the Facts website and then ask them to do some additional research to answer questions such as: Why is this issue important? What other facts are needed to fully understand this issue? How might this issue affect you or others in our community? What are some possible solutions for this issue?
Become the Media. Invite students to role-play reporters who, now that they have the key facts, write a story describing at least two approaches to addressing one of the issues addressed by Face the Facts.
Express Yourself. Invite students to produce their own multimedia report about one of the facts found on our website. Create photo essays or cell-phone videos to show what’s going on in their own communities. Email these projects to us at email@example.com and we may share it for the whole Face the Facts USA audience to see!
Respond to the Facts. Invite students to post a comment or response to a fact found on the Face the Facts website.
Contact an Elected Official. Support students to compose a letter to their elected official. Focus on student’s reflections on the election, key issues or a reflection on how the national situation impacts their communities. Use our Contact your Elected Official tool on the website.
To Whom it May Concern. Ask students to write a letter to the editor or a blog post about a fact or set of facts
Talkin’ Bout the Facts. Encourage students to hold conversations based on a set of facts with family members at home and report the results.