“Fake news” has acquired a certain legitimacy after being named word of the year by Collins, following what the dictionary called its “ubiquitous presence” over the last 12 months. The Guardian.
Collins Dictionary’s lexicographers, who monitor the 4.5bn-word Collins corpus, said that usage of the term had increased by 365% since 2016. The phrase, often capitalised, is frequently a feature of Donald Trump’s rhetoric; in the last few days alone he has tweeted of how “the Fake News is working overtime” in relation to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential elections, and of how “Fake News [is] weak!”
The term has become synonymous with Trump who has used the phrase repeatedly to criticize the media, particularly during his now infamous Twitter rants, and what he perceives to be inaccurate reporting. CNBC
How do you find your information? How do you ‘hear’ about things? How can you know what events really happened? In this lesson plan, we will explore the dangers of believing everything we read online, where to find reliable sources, and how the internet is fooling us into believing that we get a nuanced view on important topics.
Join in this global challenge and use this lesson plan in your class. This is a cooperation between the Wilderness school in Australia organized by Ann Rooney, Lindenhurst High School N.Y. USA, Rothaugen middle school, Bergen Norway, a class in Johannesburg South Africa and Sandvika high school Oslo, Norway.
If you would like to join us in this project feel free to reach out. This is an important and scary topic, and even if we tend to relate this to what is happening in the USA these days, this happens on a larger scale than we would want to acknowledge. Can we find any difference in opinions on this topic when asking students in Australia, South Africa, Norway and the USA? See the input from the students here. Scroll down to see all the comments. Radio shows on the topic at the end of the Padlet. In addition read the students posts on the topic. You will find the students blogs listed on this webpage to the right.
Reflect and discuss:
- Look at Twitter messages in the picture above and in groups of 4, discuss how likely you are to believe news like this?
- How do you find your information?
- How do you get your news?
- How can you know what events actually happened?
- Do you have other examples of fake news that went viral?
- Have you ever shared news that turned out to be fake? Discuss examples with your group.
- Look at the tasks here and discuss in your group.
Critical thinking; can you rely on your sources? How to fight misinformation.
- Fact check every statement and headline, read this article by BBC
- Report inaccuracies and misinformation on social media
- Inform yourself about trustworthy sources
- Check browser extensions for unreliable sources
- Refer to a list of fake news outlets (LINK)
- Be curious and ask questions
Write a short list of how to make sure that your sources are reliable and how your group thinks this is influencing how students think about politics and democracy today. Write all your points on this Padlet here.
Read these articles:
Divide the articles between the members of the group and use marker.to to highlight important parts. Share in your groups your findings. Share that on the Padlet above.
- Did Media Literacy Backfire? by Danah Boyd
- Truthy lies and surreal truths: a plea for critical digital literacies written by Kris Shaffer
- President-elect blasts alleged Russian dossier as ‘like Nazi Germany‘ posted in the Daily Telegraph, written by
- 2016 and the truth behind fake news |USA|Al Jazeera
- False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources
- Trump berated a CNN reporter, CJR
- Facebook Journalism project against fake news, Newsweek
Write your blog post
Based on all this information write an article about the topic. Include a paragraph about how search engines can help you in spotting fake news, and a section where you comment on what students in Australia and the USA have written about the topic. See info in our Padlet. End the article by summing up how fake news is a problem for democracy and your prediction of how this will play out in the years to come. Have in mind that you are writing the articles for students in different parts of the word aged 14-19. If you decide to include more articles as your sources be sure to mention that in your post. Make your own fake news headline based on your article. Use this website to make an image that you share on your blog.