Fact or Fiction?

Fact or Fiction?

As we know fake news is all around us and with more technological developments it’s getting harder to pick out what’s real. Photoshop can do some pretty crazy things, and news articles can be too believable. Yet, if we know to be aware, finding what’s fake can be a lot easier. The best way to combat all this fake news and the dangers of it is to increase our digital literacy. 

Introduction to Digital Literacy by MediaSmarts

As this article discusses, many young people don’t have good digital literacy skills. As educators it’s important to help nurture these skills so students know what information is real when working on assignments, but also in everyday life. 

Helping Students Identify Fake News with the Five C’s of Critical Consuming by John Spencer

In this article, Frank W. Baker stated, “[w]e have more access than ever. But access does not imply quality, and the vast information we’re being bombarded with demands a renewed emphasis on and teaching of media literacy”. 

That article also provides insight into what teaching digital literacy looks like:

  • Show students various images (photoshopped, not photoshopped) and discuss if they think the image is real or not. 
  • Have students create their own images/ads which we can then discuss in regards to the message being portrayed. 
  • Checkology helps empower students to evaluate what information is trustworthy. It’s recommended for grades 5 – 12, so is something to consider for upper elementary.
  • Look at websites or other media outlets and ask;
    • Who’s the author/source of the message?
    • Who’s this message for?
    • What questions do I have when I look at this?
  • For young students these conversations even simply begin by reading a story and talking about if it’s fiction or nonfiction.

Melissa Techman’s Beyond Fake News presentation also gives 10 tips for teaching students digital literacy skills. I like how it talks about teachers getting familiar with online databases ourselves. If we don’t know how to discern what’s true, how will we help our students?

Image by tiday from Pixabay

It’s important to note that teaching digital literacy can easily be tied into the curriculum in all subject areas, as outlined in the NCTE framework. In classes such as science, or social studies, we can incorporate activities to help students be critical thinkers when researching. Just as it’s important that we teach students about technology, and their digital identity, it’s important that we nurture their digital literacy skills. Students needs to understand how to navigate tech and how to use it to effectively communicate their thoughts and what they’re learning. The NCTE framework aims to “blend creative thinking and critical writing skills” which can be done through blogs, online discussions, and presentations.

As Schleicher says it’s “not a matter of schools teaching a new subject, but of building skills to help discern the truth into all lessons, from science to history”.

 –  Teach school children how to spot fake news

When we teach students digital literacy skills, we teach them to be critical thinkers for life. 

For more classroom resources check out this resource list from Dynamic Landscapes!

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