Fake news used to be something that could easily be identified. Ridiculous titles, pictures, captions, and news stories were easy to reject and label as fake news. However, in today’s digital world, combating fake news is extremely difficult. Students can struggle with the abundant amount of information, biases, internet scams, filter bubbles, and posts motivated by money and power. One of the best ways to identify and fight against fake news is to teach our students about digital literacy.
In the future I hope to teach in a grade 3/4 classroom, so I will be focusing on what it might look like to teach about combating fake news through digital literacy in a grade 4. I posted on Twitter to get the opinions of my peers to see what subject areas they might think digital literacy fits into. I asked: “I’m hoping to get some opinions for a blog post I am writing. What subject areas do you incorporate digital literacy into? All of them? Specific subjects moreso than others? Let me know down below!
#edtc300 #newteacher #support“. Here are some of the responses I received.
I was hoping that I would get a lot more answers because I have been building up my personal learning network on Twitter for this class; however, I only had a few replies. That being said, the replies I received were incredibly helpful. If you want to stay updated on the replies I have received, you can check out my Twitter. I agree with Bruce and Ms. Spilchuk. Digital literacy is not something that should be limited to one specific subject area, taught once, and then never revisited. In fact, I believe that the growth of our digital world demands that educators incorporate digital literacy and critical use of technology into every subject area and lesson and is constantly revisited and supported.
Since digital literacy does not fit into only one subject area, I wanted to explore how it would fit into English Language Arts 4. After looking at the Saskatchewan Curriculum, I decided that I could create many lessons about using digital literacy to combat fake news and information from the Outcome CR4.1. CR4.1 is “[c]omprehend and respond to a variety of grade-level texts (including contemporary and traditional visual, oral, written, and multimedia texts) that address: identity (e.g., Expressing Myself), community (e.g., Building Community), social responsibility (e.g., Preserving a Habitat) and support response with evidence from text and from own experiences”. More specifically, I think that Indicator B is a great way to incorporate lessons about fake news: “[v]iew, listen to, and read a variety of texts related to theme or topic of study and show comprehension by: retelling and explaining the ideas and information presented in texts, recognizing and understanding the text structures (e.g., narrative, informational, poetry) and features (e.g., description, figurative language, graphics), responding to and interpreting the texts, and explaining and supporting response with evidence from the texts”.
Just as Hildebrandt and Couros state, “students must learn to approach news and information with a critical eye in order to identify intentionally misleading sources… Teachers therefore play a crucial role in ensuring that their students develop the skills to decipher the many streams of information available to them”. Therefore, I think critically interpreting the texts, learning how to decipher fake news from facts, and supporting their findings from evidence from the text on whether the resource is fake news will enhance the students digital literacy.
One great resource that I would show my students is Helping Students Identify Fake News with the Five C’s of Critical Consuming.
This video outlines five key ways on how to implement digital literacy when looking at online resources. The five key ideas are:
- Context – When and where was the resource written, who wrote it, and is there more relevant information that you could look at?
- Credibility – Is the resource on a reliable website? What is the tone of the piece? What sources are listed and are these sources reliable?
- Construction – What bias is being presented? Look at the choice of words and any persuasion techniques. What evidence is used to support the claims made? What have they left out and how does this sway your opinion on the topic?
- Corroboration – Are other reliable sources making the same argument? Can you find any other resources that back up the information being presented?
- Compare – Look at the similarities and differences between this resource and resources from other political or ideological standpoints. Do not stay within your filter bubble and only look at what you want to believe. As Domonoske points out, “[s]tudy after study has found that partisan beliefs and bias shape what we believe is factually true”. Be aware of your own bias and look at the whole picture by viewing all standpoints.
I think that a lesson could be made behind this video. The students could watch the video, do a think-pair-share about the main ideas, and then as a class we could come up with our own questions (like I have done above) that the students can reference while looking at online resources. I can hang all the questions in the classroom and students can have them accessible at any point to make sure that they are using critical thought to combat fake news.
Another activity you could do with your class to analyze text and fake news could be to take a quiz seeing if you can figure out the fake news headline from the real headlines. Afterwards, you can have students discuss their answers, and what this might mean beyond this quiz. If you aren’t able to identify fake news headlines in this fun quiz, how can you do it in real life? I also think that it would be beneficial for students to look into real fake news online. There are many fake sites specifically made for educators to use with their students to explore fake news; however, I think it is much more worthwhile for students to practice identifying fake news from real resources available to the public. To set up students for success during this activity, I think that you could collect various websites, news articles, and online resources that are factual, and some that are fake news. Then give this list of resources to the students and have them choose two or three sites (or you could assign sites to different students) and have them identify whether or not they believe this is a fake or factual site, and what evidence supports their claim. You could have students work in groups and create a Google Docs to compile all the answers. Then you could go over them as a class and see how the students did at using their digital literacy and critical lenses to explore online resources.
By implementing digital literacy and combating fake news into English Language Arts 4 through understanding the text structure, interpreting texts, and supporting your ideas about the text with evidence from the resource, I will be keeping the NCTE Framework goals in mind. For those who do not know, the NCTE Framework involves:
- developing skills using technology
- building relationships with others to collaborate and solve issues
- create and share ideas for global communities
- analyze, manage, and create multiple streams of information
- create, critique and analyze multimedia texts
The ideas that I mentioned above about what it might look like to teach digital literacy in a grade 4 classroom in connection to the curriculum may not hit all of the NCTE Framework goals; however, the students would definitely be developing technology skills, analyze different information, and critique multimedia texts.
At the end of John Spencer’s video, he states, “when we teach students media literacy, and they learn how to consume critically, they learn how to think critically”. Teaching about digital literacy is essential in order for students to critically think and be able to combat fake news.
How will you teach about digital literacy in your classroom?