Since the ongoing debate on what is considered fake or real news, one of the places many people hope for the solutions to appear in is the classroom setup. The recent study by Sandford showed that nearly all students at each grade level cannot distinguish false news from real ones; thus, the efforts to teach media literacy has gained traction. Moreover, research established that whereas students consume media information regularly, they, in most cases, lack the ability to recognize fake news.
For that matter, teachers have taken the initiative to reverse the trend of the increase in the dissemination of fake news. NPR Ed used social media to determine how educators are teaching media literacy and fake news, which elicited numerous responses around the country as presented further.
Fake News “Simon Says”
The Scott Bedley’s version of “Simon Says” is not about the two magic words that keep an individual in the game but rather about correctly deciding whether a new story has some truth or not. Bedley sent to some of his fifth graders who were schooling at Plaza Vista School in Irvine, California, an article that they had to read and analyze on their laptops. Moreover, Bedley gave his students three minutes so that they can read and make their decision. The students had the liberty to examine the contents of the article and make their judgment. Apart from that, Bedley gave his students a checklist that had seven points enabling them to analyze the information they were critically reading. The teacher expected the students to discern the source of information before they read it. Furthermore, the students were to compare the information with what they already knew and estimate whether it had copyright. In addition, they needed to determine whether the information made sense and tallied with more than four credible sources.
The case of Flory’s class illustrates the idea that it is difficult to construct false news but is extremely easy for one to believe them to be true. Based on the experience of Flory’s students, fake news does not require to be sensational, as it can be minimal and have unnoticeable changes. However, a small change can have disastrous consequences.
Flory’s class takes part every Friday in what he terms as a Genius Hour. He has trained his students to pose a question that they can answer using online research techniques. Nonetheless, before they started researching the subject on the Internet, Flory had to take his students through all the steps that are required to distinguish fake from real news. He has taught them how to look for trusted and reliable websites, effectively browse the Internet and confirm the right information. The quest to teach students the skills of media literacy prompted Flory to connect his students with scientists and researchers from all over the world to enable them to obtain first-hand information that has not been distorted by anyone.
Let Them Eat Fake (News)
Diane Morey reminds her ninth graders who schooled at Danvers High School that the media in the past did not utilize such websites as Twitter, Facebook, or even partisan ones. However, the media at that time made use of pamphlets. Thus, she decided to teach a class about the pamphlets and cartoons that espoused the French Revolution period and then talk about the conclusions that arose from that information. Moreover, she deliberately included a primary source in the form of a letter drafted by Marie Antoinette. Morey realized that history is replete with instances of fake news, and since the essential part of her lesson entailed the analysis of the sources, she did not need a textbook. Instead, Morey encouraged students to identify articles or sources from the current news that contained fake news, which would make them see for themselves and learn never to trust the information that they consume blindly.
Larry Ferlazzo is another teacher who has been teaching kids for 13 years how to read and write in English. Currently, he has introduced another approach to teaching, in which he assisted them in figuring out the validity of what they have been reading. Larry wrote lesson plans to the students of the English language regarding fake news and the importance of media literacy. He told his students that media literacy is important, as it enhances the student’s ability to decide what information to believe after reading and understanding news articles written in English. Moreover, if they do not comprehend English well, exaggerated and false news could have a significant impact on their lives. Thereby, Larry taught students a few instances of fake or reliable news and some journalism basics. Consequently, Larry’s lessons helped the students to understand various parts of the news and then develop a visual representation of what they had read.
Media Contributors and Consumers
Spencer Brayton and one of his colleagues, Natasha Casey, upgraded a course on media literacy for the students who received their education at Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois. Brayton remarks that the students arrive at the school with the expectations that the tutors will lecture. However, the teachers allow the students to think about some of the means through which the information is produced and disseminated to them. When the students understand how they should comprehend the information, they decipher how the news is usually produced.
Brayton and Casey also encourage the students to open Twitter accounts and follow up to ten Twitter of them that promote information and media literacy such as Renee Hobbs and Media Literacy Now. The goal of following posts from these Twitter accounts is to encourage the students to identify fake news and other biased viewpoints in the media. By the time the course ends, the students will be able to start seeing themselves not only as people who can create information but also as reliable sources thereof as well.
Brayton acknowledges that the Twitter exercises prompted his students to participate in such social media activities as commenting, following and retweeting. Engaging in social media enables the students to visualize how they contribute to spreading information to other consumers, which, in turn, would prompt them to treat it seriously.