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Life-Changing Ways to be Smarter Online!

GOTCHA If you clicked on this article soley because the title was too good to pass up on, you are a victim of (my) clickbate. Don’t be upset though, it happens to the best of us; if I saw a killer blog post by #TheRealCaelynHembroff I’d click too.

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We have all seen our fair share of #FakeNews… especially in the 2017-2021 presidential term. Fake news isn’t anything “new.” We are just starting to see a whole lot more of it. As a Social Studies major, I can confidently say that my students and I will encounter a ton of it. This post is dedicated to how I will integrate digital literacy about fake news into my classroom.

So how can I get this in my classroom? But first, a quick look at the timeline of the digital revolution… Question to all of my fellow educators: what year was the current Social Studies curriculum made? A logical answer? Within the past 10 years. Oh no, no NO this baby (or should I say millennial) was made in 1997. Now let us glance down at the chart below and notice that this curriculum was made BEFORE BLUETOOTH, FACEBOOK, IPHONES, AND EVERYTHING GOOD IN TECHNOLOGY.

All I can say is my work is cut out for me to connect this ancient curriculum to contemporary times.

So where to start. Well, once your eyes adjust to reading a font that looks like it has been photocopied 10 times, you will see on the first page the major goals for teaching Social Studies. Here it lists “concept formation, knowledge, skills/abilities, and values” okay, this is something that I can work with. Digital literacy is pretty much all of these things.

Let’s start with knowledge. Knowledge…hmm, not the clearest objective there SS curriculum but like I said, I know I have my work cut out for me. SO how can I look at this? When I think of knowledge, I think of the whole picture and get a whole picture you need context. Context is critical to understanding information- how many times have you seen a crazy news title like “Teen Attacked and Almost Eaten by Hungry Tiger”? Then, you click on it and realize the entire context of the story is missing. The teen taunted the tiger while at the Zoo, climbed over the fence, and walked up to the tiger… now it is a completely different story. This is also known as Clickbait and it can be extremely convincing…Looking past the headline is so so so important, and I learned alllll about it in this article.

Retrieved from Newseum

Moving onto the second goal skills/abilities alright SS curriculum you’ve got me again. As defined in the curriculum, skills, and abilities are to organize, interpret and communicate social studies information. To my saving grace A FREE LESSON PLAN. This lesson plan comes with these questions as well as a questions sheet for students. This is a great resource for students to practice sorting through what information is credible, how to use it, where to find it.

Last but not least, we have the third goal values. Values are extremely important for digital literacy. It is crucial that students learn the importance of what they share on the internet. This can be for personal reasons or educational. For this blog post, I am going to be discussing the educational aspect of values online. If we are teaching students how to sift through fake news, we also have to teach them that it’s not okay to produce it either. For expertise on this topic, I have looked to the article. It’s Easier to Call a Fact a Fact When it’s One You Like. This article goes over a study that was performed and states:

“In general they found people were better at correctly identifying a factual statement if it aligned with or supported their political beliefs”

It’s Easier to Call a Fact a Fact When it’s One You Like

I mean the results of the study make sense, but that doesn’t make it right. In terms of social studies, I can see this fitting right into a debate exercise. In a heavy debate, people can get a little bit carried away and often make facts up or twist the truth to make it sound better in support of their argument.

I could talk about digital citizenship forever, but it is the integration to curriculum that is tricky…especially when the curriculum was made BEFORE most of the digital technology we are using today. This, amongst so many other topics that belong in schools (that aren’t in the curriculum), are not getting any less important, so it’s best to keep up with it as it continues to grow!

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This is what I want my students to picture and think of every time they go to post something… Would Ms. Hembroff approve of this? If she saw this would she be proud? Disappointed?

Visual/auditory learner like I am? Here is a short video that will give you a good idea about digital literacy.

Want to see some #NotFakeNews? Check out my Twitter!


  • Branden Smith

    Hey Caelyn

    I am also a SS major, and you are so right when you discuss how old the SS curriculum is for high school. So much has changed since 1997; the curriculum desperately needs to be updated as much of it is outdated and irrelevant. But despite this, you did a great job of connecting digital literacy with the curriculum!

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