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Apr 04, 2017

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Slow the Spread of Fake News: 5 Ways to Encourage Students to be Careful Researchers

In January, we wrote about ways you can help your students determine real from fake news in the classroom. These tips are a way to start the conversation with your students about the importance of critical literacy and the responsibility to be digitally literate in the digital age.

What do you think? Have you had this conversation with your students? We think it’s important to continue to teach these skills to our students since this issue will continue to be something they will need to decipher as they grow up.  

What we’ve found is that those original suggestions were just the tip of the iceberg. Our students are still being confronted with potential fake news every day. So, how do you continue to have these conversations with your students?

Here are 5 Ways to Encourage Students to be Careful Researchers:

  1. Encourage fetching news from multiple sources

Getting information from multiple sources helps to verify that the information presented is, in fact, credible. Can this information be found through a traditionally credible news source? Can they find the same content on a variety of sites? A great way to weave this into your lesson plan is to have students research a news topic and provide multiple web sources. This will help determine which articles are fact, and how to better determine a fake news story.

  1. Encourage clicking

By using an indirect and creative approach of clicking through to links within a news story, students will learn the type of news site they are finding the information. Does the article link to other websites? Click on them! Do the links route to credible websites that support what is discussed in the article, or does it link to irrelevant websites or detract from what was originally read? If the website links to an or an untrustworthy site, the article is likely fake news.

  1. Encourage looking further than the first search result

Think about the last time you searched for something on Google. Did you choose the first result, or dig you dig deeper? Rather than relevant content, there may be keywords and phrases make a certain news article gain the top spot. If students dig deeper than the first search result when seeking news, they may find richer content, and find other articles related to the topic. This Education Week article suggests students work like fact checkers and scroll through the results to help make an informed decision of where to click first.

  1. Encourage being suspicious of pictures

Photos were once a reliable source of news, but a photo can easily be misidentified, incorrectly dated, or manipulated. Many images are cropped or processed before they are uploaded online, but some may be manipulated to make it seem like the article is fact rather than fiction. Use a reverse image search site like TinEye to see where that image really comes from.

  1. Encourage learning more about the source

Have your students navigate to the “About Us” page to see who wrote the article. Search for the journalist to see what other stories they have authored, and search the website followed by the word “fake” to see what appears. Sites like nonprofit, nonpartisan FactCheck.org and popular sites like Hoax-Slayer and Snopes can also help your students determine whether or not a website is reputable.

BONUS! 6. Encourage the end of fake news

So, your student has found a fake news story. What do you do now? We like OnTheMedia’s advice: Don’t share it! We can do our part to slow the spread of fake news by not sharing the article.

While it may take more critical reading skills on all our parts to distinguish a real news story from a fake one, we can become more engaged citizens in the process by getting news from multiple sources.

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