Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions? Email rpierre-louis@ctpublic.org for support.

I’m a middle school teacher or administrator. How do I use Thinkalong in my classroom?

The great thing about Thinkalong is that it’s a tool that works for you! You can use the complete topic module for a full lesson on the topic or use the modules in pieces to help build research skills, learn media literacy techniques, and hold civil, informed debates in your classroom.

Our curated media stories and graphic organizers (linked within each module) can help your students learn more about important things happening in the news. Thinkalong can enhance your lessons, introduce a new topic, and foster discussion. Our topic modules are updated on a regular basis to reflect a dynamic and fast-moving news cycle, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not the information is outdated. All of the curated stories within the Thinkalong tool are from vetted media sources.

There are lots of different ways to use Thinkalong, and we’d love to hear about how you’re using it in your classroom. You can let us know how Thinkalong works for you by tweeting @ctpubliclearn and using the hashtag #mythinkalong. Or contact rpierre-louis@ctpublic.org directly.

What is the time or resource commitment for a Thinkalong module?

Thinkalong is an interactive website, so you will need an internet connection, a web browser (like Safari or Chrome) and a device that can access the internet in order to fully access the program. Media items in each topic module may include a video, an audio story or an article, so be sure to have a way for sound to get from the computer to your student’s eyes and ears. (Note - some school facilities have privacy or security firewalls. Thinkalong may be need to be "white listed" to enable classroom use. Check with your school IT professional.) Our media is available on the site tor through links out to the media’s creator. This allows students to analyze and vet the sources using the 5 Key Media Literacy questions, and practice in a way they can translate to their everyday media consumption.

In-class time will depend on the students, but running a full Thinkalong module usually takes at least 45 minutes of class time. We try to keep our media under 8 minutes, but sometimes articles and video can be longer. If it works with your school's policies, you may decide to assign a Thinkalong module for homework in advance of the classroom discussion time. 

Thinkalong is yours to use in whatever way it supports your classroom.

Can Connecticut Public or my local public media station send an education specialist to run the classroom exercise for me?

Yes! Please contact us to schedule a Thinkalong session in your classroom. We also offer professional development workshops for small and large groups of educators. If you’re interested in having a Connecticut Public Learning education specialist join you for a training workshop, please let us know!

How do I suggest a topic module?

We love getting new ideas! We try to build study modules that are relevant to wide-reaching topics in the news, but sometimes we’re limited by the amount of coverage or issues with presenting both sides of an argument. We also have new modules constantly in the works.

If you have a suggestion, we’re all ears! Please let us know what topics or subject areas you would like to see. Email us with your topic module suggestions and we'll do our best to make it happen. 

I’m interested in setting up a “Connected Classrooms” debate on a Thinkalong topic. How do I find a partner classroom? What resources must be in place to make this happen?

Our virtual debate feature is currently in beta mode, but we’re working hard to make it happen. We're looking for educators who would like to help us improve the online experience. In order to participate, you need a device with a camera, a microphone, and speakers. If you're interested in setting up a debate, contact us and we'll do our best match you with another classroom.

I’m a parent of a middle school student. How might I suggest our school system use Thinkalong in our classrooms?

Thinkalong is a free, easy-to-access, and user-friendly educational tool to foster media literacy skills, critical thinking, and informed debate. If you think Thinkalong would be a good fit for your school system, talk to your student’s teachers, school principal, district superintendent, or your board of education members. You can also let your local parent-teacher organization know, or even suggest the program to your local library or your community’s educational partners.

I’m a home-schooling parent. Are there any special resources Thinkalong can provide for me?

Thinkalong was built to serve a variety of educators. The website comes with everything you need to use Thinkalong at home with your student, including a teachers' guide, links to the news sources, and discussion questions. In the same way that classroom educators use Thinkalong, you can use the whole module for a full lesson on the topic or use the modules in pieces to help build research skills, learn media literacy techniques, and hold civil, informed debates at home or with other children in your homeschool groups. Our modules are updated on a regular basis to reflect a dynamic and fast-moving news cycle, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not the information is outdated.

We’d love to see the diversity of learning styles that Thinkalong supports, and we’d love to hear how you’re using it as a home-schooling parent. You can let us know Thinkalong works for you by tweeting @ctpubliclearn and using the hashtag #mythinkalong.

I’m a middle school student. How might I tell my teacher, scout leader, or other adult leaders in my life about Thinkalong? Can I run a Thinkalong program on my own as a class project?

Thinkalong is a great class project! Send your parent, teacher, or other adult leader to the Thinkalong website and talk to them about some of the topics you're interested in discussing. This is also a great site to do research using our topic module media, or a great starting point when you get assigned that “you choose the topic” project or paper and don’t know where to begin. And if you’re in debate club, Thinkalong is a way to start sharpening up those argument and evidence skills before you head off to a competition.

How do I know this content is safe and age-appropriate?

Each piece of media featured on the Thinkalong website has been curated by our editorial team specifically for educational use. Our editorial team does their best to ensure that every module meets our standards for age-appropriateness, balanced reporting, and citation of evidence.

Still, you know your classroom and your students best! If you feel like a piece of media isn’t going to work for your students, you don’t need to use it. Each module offers a “Think Deeper” set of articles and media that you can use in place of the main module media. Thinkalong is a tool meant to make debate, media literacy, and critical thinking relevant to your students and easy for you as an educator to do in your classroom.

If you are concerned about the content on a module, please let us know. 

How much does Thinkalong cost?

It's free! Thinkalong is a service of Connecticut Public, the state's public media station. If you'd like to support our efforts, please donate here.