How to get students to better identify fake news

Given increasingly fast and bite-sized nature of information production, distribution, and consumption it is becoming increasingly important for people do develop some special skills to employ when being hit with fake news. One way to develop the skills needed to deal with fake news is to learn how it is created and the tricks it employs and a great way to do that is to create fake news. Here is an article about some teachers who who have their students write fake news stories so they can better detect it.

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Inquiry Design Model resource for K-12 social studies

Teachers of K-12 social studies, if you haven’t checked out the resources available for free from the Inquiry Design Model  website you are missing out. In addition to having a library of inquiry units designed for all grade levels created and vetted by people from EngageNY and the College, Career, and Civic Life Framework for Social Studies (C3), they have crowd-sourced inquiry units from around the country, all searchable by grade-level and content focus.

 

Teaching Students How to Call Bull

The University of Washington introduced a popular course this year called something very close to (but slightly more vulgar) Calling Bull. This course was designed to give students the intellectual tools to recognize and address fake news, inauthentic use of data, and pseudo-science.

They developed a companion website (with the same vulgar name) and shared it with the world. They received enough inquiries from secondary school teachers that they created a mirror website that scrubs out (most of) the vulgarity (see they last paragraph below for an explanation of that qualifier). While I don’t personally give a… let’s say darn… about the vulgarity of the original website, having one without the reference to excrement in its title is helpful in the public school arena.

Secondary teachers, especially teachers of contemporary world issues courses, may find the resources on the Calling Bull website helpful.

My favorite resources are the case studies which illustrate real examples of instances where a good bull detector would be helpful for consumers of information to have.

I also like the Tips and Tricks for Spotting and Calling Bull that explain how to approach information

There are also videos of lectures that address such topics as causation versus correlation, the manipulation of visual data, and reproducibility. These videos have not been scrubbed of the vulgarity described above so use with students is not advised. That said, they can still useful to the harder-to-offend teacher who wants to better understand these (and other) concepts as they relate to spotting and addressing bull.

To protect Constitutional rights, citizens must first understand them

Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat: I still get the local paper delivered in print on my front porch (well, sometimes it only gets as far as the driveway). I’m sure I could get the information I need via free, online avenues but I think it is important to support the local paper so I consider the money I spend on my subscription a bit of a donation (don’t contact the IRS: I do not claim this donation on my taxes).

In that print copy of my local paper this morning was an interesting editorial about the state of civics education (or lack thereof) as well as a call to action to improve it.

You can read it for free here but if you think being informed about your local community is important, you might just decide to subscribe. You don’t have to go print as they sell unlimited access to their online content as well.

 

Defining Authenticity in Historical Problem Solving

As I have investigated personalized learning in general and project-based learning (PBL) more specifically, one of the concept I have wrestled with is authenticity, especially how it relates to a study of history. This article from Edutopia has some interesting and illuminating ideas about where teachers (and students) can find authenticity within the “bumper guards” of grade-level historical content defined by the state.

 

Indigenous Peoples Day Offers Authenticity to the History Classroom

It is admittedly difficult to authentic connections to the history students are learning about but connections can be found. For years an authentic debate over the existence of Columbus Day as a federal holiday has been roiling.

Real people in real communities all over the nation, including several in the state of Washington have questioned whether honoring Columbus is appropriate given the history of his personal actions and the history on the Western Hemisphere since he stumbled upon it in 1492.

Engaging students in this authentic debate with a possible real audience of our own city council or state legislators can make for an engaging connection between centuries-old history and the world today. Click here for details about how some high school students recently addressed the city council of Edmonds, Washington on this issue.