I recently read two NPR articles shared with me by our middle school librarian, Rebecca Ekstrom. The first was about how students are unaware of when the news they are reading is fake and most don’t even consider the possibility that it could be. Can You Tell if it’s Fake?
The second is about a fake news creator. Justin Coler, a man who lives in the suburbs with his two children and set about writing fake news to help people realize the prevalence and danger of fake news. He doesn’t believe his articles impacted the recent election and plans to continue his fake news business because it is lucrative. Fake News Writer
These two articles plus the articles listed in Thing 14 inspired me to make a Nearpod about evaluating information. I made the presentation for 5th grade and while searching for material, realized how difficult this topic is to teach to students younger than 5th grade. We live in a world where children look to adults for protection and guidance and these same adults encourage a deep belief in Santa, the tooth fairy, and the Easter bunny. So much so that people dress up as these fake characters and perpetuate the fake stories being told about them.
Fake Material on the world wide web quickly becomes inappropriate for an elementary school setting. Whether it is political, too advanced, violent, or sexual, the nature of many fake stories is not appropriate for children to evaluate. There are very few educational tools to teach students how to be critical of information and it is an interesting line to cross when I am asking students to think about why they are being told something, who benefits or is harmed by the information, and who paid for it. Our holidays are a major boost to certain businesses year-round and our everyday environment supports that.
The article by Joyce Valenza, Truth, Truthiness, and Triangulation was helpful because it broke down some specific skills to teach students. I added the Time Kids video to my nearpod, anytime I can find students speaking about their experiences, I love to add it to my presentations because I think students learn best from students!
Here is a link to my Nearpod. This is one of the activities I will use to introduce students to the idea of thinking critically about information. I hope by repeating myself and giving them some exercises, they will begin to think about it and reflect on their attitude toward news and information while on their own as well.