Scrolling through our social media sites, it's amazing how many stories are shared about pesticides that are going to kill us all or that president-elect Donald Trump is going to pardon mass shooter Dylann Roof or that liberals hate science, but many of these easily shared stories are just not true (whether people want to believe them or not). In a world where one click of a share button helps pass along misinformation, it is crucial we learn how to weed out the fake news from the real news, how to analyze what we are reading, and how to teach our younger generations how to make informed decisions based on reliable sources.
While 2nd and 3rd graders may be too young to understand the nuances of reading for reliable information, they are never too young to start learning the basics in a safe, supportive learning environment. One day soon these sweet angels of ours will have Instagrams, Snap Chats, and whatever-new-social-medium-platform-is-cool-then of their own.
ReadWriteThink has wonderful resources to teach about reliable sources and Common Sense is my favorite digtal citizenship platform for learning about staying safe online, but my ultimate favorite lesson about fake news has been from modifying ReadWriteThink's lesson on Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus. I always get a chuckle from students that tree octopi are not real, but they really start to believe in them once they begin reading through the 'news' site and watch the YouTube videos. The best part of this lesson is that it is easily modified for different grade levels and making connections to current news. When teaching 8th graders last year, it was easy to translate the YouTube videos from the Northwest Tree Octopus to analyzing videos of police shootings in our media. There is always another side to the story, making it so important to look for multiple sources (articles, videos, first-hand accounts, etc.) when discovering the truth about a topic.
So to help us learn a little more about fake news and how to navigate the minefield of fake news websites, I have to put together a little infographic for us. Do you have a favorite website, lesson, or activity to help our students with fake news and reliable sources?
(I found this fascinating article online about today's youth and navigating social media sources if you would like more information.)
UPDATE: School Library Journal has just posted this article with some amazing resources!