Class 3: Fake News

“In search of answers, many of us ask our kids to “Google” something. These so-called digital natives, who’ve never known a world without screens, are the household’s resident fact-checkers. If anyone can find the truth, we assume, they can. Don’t be so sure.

True, many of our kids can flit between Facebook and Twitter while uploading a selfie to Instagram and texting a friend. But when it comes to using the Internet to get to the bottom of things, Junior’s no better than the rest of us. Often he’s worse.”

~ “Why Students Can’t Google Their Way to the Truth” Education Week  Reporting on 2016 research project with 7,804 students in middle school through college. Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning link to 3.4 MB pdf

Today’s class will  explore the world of “fake news” with a focus on its implications for democracy in the digital age. This will serve as a kick off for our first extended lesson design project.

In class activities: we review social media feeds and used the graph below to classify some of the news stories.

Source for social media stories:

  • Our own social media feeds.
  • Searching Twitter (which shows content even w/o a Twitter account)
  • Blue Feed, Red Feed: See Liberal Facebook and Conservative Facebook, Side by Side ~  Wall Street Journal


  • We are better at discerning right/ left continuum than responsible/fake news journalism continuum.
  • Fake news success at spreading information relies on an absence of critical thinking skills
Project: Media Literacy / Critical Thinking Design

We will begin a extended PBL focused on publishing a suite of lessons for teaching media literacy and critical thinking to intermediate – high school students. Flooded with information from the “post-truth world” of “alternative facts,” students will need to develop their own skills in recognizing “truthiness.”

This is a great vehicle for exploring critical thinking across the curriculum. Good critical thinking skills are the best defense against “fake news.” Here’s a model that might inspire us How to Lie, Cheat, Manipulate, and Mislead using Statistics and Graphical Displays 3.7MB pdf

Good starter article Evaluating Sources in a ‘Post-Truth’ World: Ideas for Teaching and Learning About Fake News


Come to class with ideas to share. You will have 5 mins each to give an “elevator pitch.”

So this coming week all students will brainstorm what content those lesson might cover, and how we might deliver the lessons. They might be standalone lessons or we might try to pick a common theme and approach it from different disciples. We’ll see.

Image credit:  Graphic on Fake news website issue made by VOA News. Wikimedia Commons

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