Fake news and digital literacy

In the past few weeks, we have discussed a lot about digital literacy. This week, we learned about fake news and how having good digital literacy skills can help us decipher between what is real and what is fake online.  For this week’s blog post, we were asked to think about what teaching about digital literacy may look like in different subject areas or grade ranges. As I am an elementary teacher I will be focusing on younger students. Given that I have been placed in a grade 3/4 classroom for my internship, this will be the grade range that I will use as an example for ways that digital literacy can fit into the curriculum.

The article by Peter Pappas, talks about critical thinking as being one of the most important skills to have to be able to identify fake news. Critical thinking or critical evaluation of the information is something that students develop throughout their entire life. Most commonly it is in high school that students will really learn how to be critical thinkers.

So what does this mean for me as a grade 3/4 teacher?

When I put some thought into this I realized that there are many steps that can be taken with young students to start developing the skills they will need to become critical thinkers. This reminded me of a French-language arts, grade three, lesson that I taught during my pre-internship. For this lesson, students worked on their abilities to differentiate fact from opinion. The activity I did with the students to introduce this topic was to give them each a sentence  that they would then have to place on the board under the fact section or the opinion section and then after each sentence was placed we discussed as a class, what hints we saw in the sentence to be able to place it in the correct category. The lesson was a success and the students were able to begin their understanding of fact and opinion.

The What’s News: Fake, False, Misleading, Clickbait, Satire, or Carefully Reported?, article that Katia shared talks about different things to look for when deciding if something we are reading is real. One thing mentioned is to look at who is saying what is written. This directly relates to whether or not what is being said is fact or opinion. A couple things that young students are able to identify are things such as; how the sentences begin. Are they using words like “so and so” thinks that or “these people” assume that? These are all clues the students can find that indicate that what is being said may not be true or correct.

Although I did not do so in this particular lesson, it would be very useful to extend this lesson to teach students about identifying fake news online. The article by Dr. Alec couros and Katia Hildebrandt offers some great advice on how to do so.  One of the tips mentioned that I find particularly useful is using real-life fake news to teach students. This is something that Katia had also talked about in class on Thursday. I think that this is important because it teaches students the complexity and the trickiness of the fake news that is out there. In practising these skills from an early age, students can really begin to develop and understand how to properly analyse everything that they read.

When teachers incorporate digital literacy in the curriculum starting at an early age, the goals from the NCTE framework become much more manageable and realistic to accomplish. Especially in today’s society where kids are using technology from as early as 2 years old, it is never too early to start teaching about digital literacy!


2 thoughts on “Fake news and digital literacy

  1. I completely agree that we need to be teaching students in elementary how to find fake news! I feel as though in elementary it is the most important to do this because they will have to recognize what is fake news for the rest of their life!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brooke, I really liked how to tied our lessons about digital literacy into different articles, and your own personal experience with teaching a lesson plan about differentiating facts and opinions. This is a really strong post! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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