Fake News: How Do We Teach About It?

Hello friends!

This week I have been tasked with thinking about what it would be like teaching high school kids (grade 9-12) about digital literacy. Part of this is knowing what is and isn’t fake on the internet. I think that this would be kind of hard to teach high school level students if they have never been taught anything about it before.

If I were in a classroom I would start a conversation about knowing what is and isn’t true through the use of a video (like the videos shown above) or a fun little comic to try and set the mood for the class. Not to try and make it seem like it’s all fun and games, but in my experience starting things off very seriously leads to students either just not responding very well or they just don’t want to pay attention.

It would be beneficial to show students the types of misleading news that they will encounter on the internet. This is where the model “10 Types of Misleading News” from Media Literacy for Citizenship would be useful. Reading this chart I found it extremely easy to follow and I also learned some things that I found quite interesting. I never really considered pseudoscience a type of fake news but after reading the information about it on the chart I felt that it made sense for it to be included. Even starting with a little quiz from the NY Times Learning Network or factitious could help students and the teacher understand where they are at in terms of digital literacy.

Dr. Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt in their article “How do we teach students to identify fake news?” give solid advice on how to show students how to detect fake news such as not using checklists such as CRAAP, but helping students to understand bias, and helping them to know how to use techniques to check the quality or truth to certain posts. I found this helpful in thinking of ways to teach high school students that would not consist of someone standing in front of a classroom and telling the students that they shouldn’t believe everything that they see on the internet. Instead we should be showing them how to make sure that they are finding reputable sources rather than finding something that has no substance to it.

Looking at the high school curriculum for chances to add in this topic, I found a couple areas. The first being in English Language Arts 20 in CR 20.1(g) where it states “Identify ways that society and culture shape the content, forms, and language of texts, including digital texts.” I also found that on page 16 of the Journalism Studies 20 curriculum that there is a whole section dedicated to making sure that you have the purest form of information before writing an article.

While there is some allowance for learning about what is and ins’t fake news in the high school curriculum I feel like there should almost be an entire unit since we live in a society that relies so heavily on the internet and our cellphones. I would definitely show students how to use certain websites to try and help them know how to detect fake news and I would also show them how to find out if certain images are doctored.

Overall the need to teach students digital literacy is at it’s highest point and I think that we as educators need to be showing students and reminding them how to work on this skill within every grade level.


2 thoughts on “Fake News: How Do We Teach About It?

  1. Miss Hollinger June 10, 2019 / 3:32 pm

    You made a lot of good points that I 100% agree with. Especially, when you mentioned having an entire Unit on Fake news, as our society today is constantly “online”.
    Great work,


  2. sarahwright306 June 11, 2019 / 10:18 pm

    Klair, I did not know that Journalism Studies was even a course, it is so cool that it would lend itself to fit Fake news and online identity. I know that it seems crazy for students not to understand credible news, I think a good starting point is teaching them to use the resources of wikipedia without using wikipedia as a reference.
    Love your ideas. -Sarah


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