Do I have your attention? Great! Because the title is FAKE NEWS!
As you may or may not know, I am in the Elementary program, so approaching the subject of fake news and digital literacy will be different from those of you who are going to be teaching high school students or even University classes. Beginning with children who are so impressionable and believe things that they read or are told (up to a certain extent) need to be taught about fake news and digital literacy so that they are able to differentiate what sources are trustworthy and which sources simply, are not. The best way to ensure that students from kindergarten to grade five are able to tell the difference between fake news and educational articles is to look at past articles that that particular media outlet has released, this way you can tell if it is credible. Also, look at local news sources to see their opinions on larger news sources, and of course simply read the title of the article. For example, the title I placed on the top of this blog post probably is not very educational as it is based on particular people and judgement towards others where we have no place as individuals to judge, and it is none of your business! A question or middle ground statement will most likely be a good article as it is based on trust worthy sources and input from others who do not sway the reader to think a certain way, it just brings important information to light.
Of course, five year olds will not be able to understand or even read article titles if they are lengthy or have large words in them, let alone understand what the article is about based on its title. This needs to be the job of an adult to help guide children in order to figure out what kinds of literacy are actually beneficial to read. The article titled How do we teach students to identify fake news by Dr. Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt exclaims “Bring real-world fake news examples that we encounter everyday into the classroom so that students can be challenged to apply their skills and techniques to authentic situations” which as a future elementary educator is the best point made within the article for young students. They will need to be guided in order to fully understand the difference between real world real news and “fake news” beginning with articles that are not political, scary, or too stimulating. In order for them to understand, students will need to be introduced to articles that are more neutral and deal with topics such as new play structures or children’s story books.
Another way to intrigue younger children and immerse them within the subject of fake news and digital literacy is to do an activity that allows them to work as a class to find the article title that consists of fake news out of a list of four, three titles being true and one being the fake news. There is an online tool called Can you spot the fake news headline? that would also work very well for this as the website already has headlines created for you. Now, after trying the educational tool out on my own I would have to lead an elementary class through the headlines, but it gives educators a great outline for a quiz they could create on their own to make it more age appropriate and understandable for students. Some fake news headlines are not so straight forward, especially since you are only seeing the headline and not the whole article which usually gives it away. However, with that being said, being able to spot the fake news straight from the headline will save both you and your students time and a better understanding of credible sources.
Since young students seem to be more visual and rely on visual aids I decided to incorporate a visual model into this post called “Beyond ‘Fake News‘”. This model is able to show children how and why it is important to be safe online, and to ensure that they understand the dangers of the online world without scaring them, rather, educating them. Overall, to understand how and why they are using technology and then how to use it appropriately. Through teaching children about the online world we are teaching them how to be safe, how to use a search engine, type, and educating them on their digital footprint. Why is this is important for children to understand? Because it nurtures responsible digital citizenship. These thoughts and statements support the NCTE Framework that states “delivering inaccurate information is dangerous. It’s not enough to be connected; we need to be accurate in our knowledge through these connections” by helping students both understand the dangers, but also the benefits of connection, which they have been experiencing at great lengths by using zoom to be apart of what would be their everyday classroom setting.
Digital literacy also ties into the Saskatchewan education curriculum specifically through the grade four English Language Arts outcomes and indicators as follows: CR3.2 View and respond to grade-appropriate visual and multimedia texts (including videos, cartoons, illustrations, diagrams, charts, maps, and posters) explaining reactions and connections as well as
visual features that convey humour, emotion, and mood. Indicator: d. Record facts and ideas from grade-appropriate visual and multimedia texts including DVD, television program, magazine, and reference resources. This example using both an outcome and indicator shows that even at a grade four level students are asked to look at multimedia texts, make sense of them, understand if they are true or false creations, and then record facts from resources both online and through other media such as magazines and television.