I chose to explore digital literacy and how to teach students to identify fake news through the lens of Social Studies. Social Studies is a subject that requires one to put on their critical thinking hat (or one of de Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats) to analyze various aspects of ourselves and the world we live in. Each Social Studies curriculum is divided into four categories: Interactions and Interdependence, Dynamic Relationships, Power and Authority, and Resources and Wealth. When examining these aspects of society, our own as well as societies around the globe, research is an integral staple of this learning. But more and more sources appearing online are fiction and created for the purpose of misleading it’s readers.
“[F]ake news is often meant to do harm, by tricking us into believing a lie or unfairly discrediting a person or politely movement”
If we want to learn how to access accurate information, then we need to teach our students what fake news looks like and how to check if a resource is authentic. The article How do we teach students to identify fake news? outlines 4 strategies to help students become critical readers which include teaching student to identify if a source displays any kind of bias and to utilize investigative techniques such as using reputable verification websites (find list below) and reading laterally (cross checking information with multiple sites instead of putting all your eggs in one (potentially fake) basket and being on your merry way.
And instead of just taking what this one article has to say about how to prevent using fake news, I’m going to practice reading laterally and check a few other sources (even though I know this article is authentic and reputable as one of the authors is my instructor, something I didn’t realize until I went to reference the above quote - I swear I’m not brown nosing!!)
My brief cross referencing started with Damon Brown explaining in his video How to choose your news at 3:13 that “tuning into various sources and noting the differences, let’s you put the pieces together for a more complete picture.”
Additionally, reading “Dihydro-What?” a lesson plan for Science on the website Lessons In Critical Thinking. The lesson’s author, Kristen Turner, outlines in her pre-lesson summary that:
“Those without specialized knowledge [in a given scientific subject]... must have some faith in the competency of the scientist to craft accurate and valid experiments and draw conclusions with common sense and awareness.”
Which explains perfectly why people are so quick to accept fiction as fact because how do we know any better?? We only have X, Y, or Z credentials and they are talking about things beyond my knowledgeable grasp, so how can we question them?? Plus, they are the one with a published article, surely it had to verified before they could publicize that information, right??
“the psychological conundrum that people tend to be persuaded by emotion rather than logic... the [majority] of their work may be lacking but the audience may still choose to accept and believe it... [because the information] appeals to their target audience’s emotions... [even though] it conflicts reality.”
This tactic is known as using bias!
The Social Studies outcome I chose to use is:
IN9.2 - Compare the factors that shape worldviews in a society, including time and place, culture, language, religion, gender identity, socio-economic situation, and education.
When in doubt:
Investigate to Authenticate!
To finish, I’m going to quote Kristen Turner once more.
“As teachers, we can only do the best we can to present the truth as we know it, admitting to students that we are inherently prone to errors and bias. Ultimately, information we present will be faulty and flawed in some way. Nevertheless, it is still possible for it to contain a certain degree of truth that will serve to assist students in discovering and grasping the world around them.”
Jenn New - an outgoing, nature loving, cooking competition addict, Moose Jawvian who just happens to be a C1-C2 ventilator dependent quadriplegic.