It is not hard to notice how much our OJCS students have been talking to one another about what’s happening in Ukraine. When they enter the classroom in the mornings, when they play outside at recess, and as they walk in the halls, they are talking about the things they’ve heard, the TikTok videos they’ve seen, and the news they’ve managed to see on tv or hear in the car with their parents. It is really important that we don’t ignore this show of concern in our students, but instead, try to offer opportunities to discuss the invasion sensitively with them so that they have an opportunity to voice their anxieties and other feelings, and to help them gain context and understanding. It is also a great way we can bring news literacy into the classroom by discussing the ways in which social media can lead to misinformation about what is going on.
Here are some resources you can use to help you navigate these discussions;
How to Talk to Kids About What is Happening In Ukraine Right Now – CBC
I wanted to take a moment to highlight an incredible program for our students that is available online. I have been both impressed and amazed by the work that The News Literacy Project is doing to help build critical thinking skills in students. The News Literacy Project is a non-profit and nonpartisan organization that is working to educate the public about how to separate fact from fiction in the news and how to assess news credibility. They have developed an incredibly comprehensive online program called Checkology for middle school and high school aged students that can be tailored for each classroom.
Checkology consists of about a half a dozen units per grade that cover the essentials of news and media literacy. These units are often presented by actual news anchors and heads of news or media organizations. Each unit includes lots of activities for students to test their newfound knowledge through the sorting of video, media, and other content into appropriate categories of information. It also helps them to understand what makes some content credible and other content not. And they do all of this while being simultaneously entertaining and engaging! The clips that they use as examples are timely and relevant and students will feel right at home with the content.
Checkology will become an integral piece of my library programming here at the OJCS. Media literacy is a key foundation of digital citizenship, and this incredible program can help our students get there.
Today we read the chapter book UFO Spotted! which is in the Hilde Cracks the Case Series. This book is written by Hilde Lysiak and Matthew Lysiak and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff. If you decide to stop at a certain chapter make sure you take note of the time in the video so you can start back in the same place another time.
I want you to pay attention to how important it is to Hilde to get all the FACTS before she writes her story. Real news is fact-based. Real journalism is not a guess or an opinion. Real news is not based on rumours. Real news is about stating clear facts. That is very important in learning to differentiate real news from potentially fake, false, or misleading news.
ACTIVITY: Visit Hilde’s news site and get tips from the real Hilde!
First let’s visit Hilde’s real news site, Orange Street News, and take ten minutes to read some real news stories.
Learning to identify misinformation, disinformation, deepfakes and other baloney
I recently created this lesson on information credibility for our OJCS middle schoolers in the interactive format of Nearpod. I am posting the slides version here for students and teachers far and wide to use. Our young people need this now more than ever!
You are going to be starting a project on cities in Ontario.
Let’s start by looking at a non-fiction book and learning how to use them for our research.
What is non-fiction?
Table of Contents?
Now how can we search for information about our city on Google. Let’s open up our internet browsers and find out. We can get very specific with our keywords to find key information for our research project. For example, if we want to answer the question what is the population of Ottawa Ontario, what could my keywords be? What about if my questions is; what are Ottawa’s famous landmarks?
It is really important to remember that we never need to type a long question into Google. All you need are keywords! Keywords help us to find the best possible sites on our topic.
What search engines can we use if we want really kid-friendly information?
Now your project involves making a short newscast about your city. Let’s take a minute to look at some great examples of kid-friendly news videos.
Elements of a news report…
Welcome everyone and introduce yourself.
Make sure your story contains The 5 Ws!
Fill your newscast with important and interesting information. Example, lots of key facts, interesting facts.
You can use video clips and photos as props to help your newscast be more visually interesting.
Present your ‘story’ with lots of energy and enthusiasm.
You can include commentary and interviews with others in your presentation. For example, if someone has visited your city, you could include an interview with them where you find out what their favourite tourist destination in that city was, their restaurant recommendations, etc…
Misinformation is ‘false or inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive.’
Where do we hear this misinformation? Unfortunately, the online world is absolutely full of it. From youtube videos, to tiktok, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, people are bombarded with fake facts and fake news. Here is an example of misinformation that I found on youtube.
If you saw this video online you’d be terrified. You might tell your friends about it and spread this information further. So how do we verify if it is true or not?
Now it’s your turn to give this a try. I need you to be a fact-checker and find out if this information is true or not using the techniques we just learned.
Check the source – run a Google Search on the publisher or author of the information and try to find out more
The Rule of Three – check three other sources of information
Hilde Cracks The Case – Hero Dog by Hilde and Matthew Lysiak, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
After the last chapter of the book I explain how you would write your own short news article. Try your hand at it. It could be about anything that is ‘newsworthy’ at your house or in your neighbourhood. I am attaching a template you can print and use if you want something that looks even more like a real newspaper page. Or you can create a Google Doc of your article. Share your finished doc or a photo of the printed news page with me at email@example.com
Even though you are a kid, you can be exposed to a lot of serious and scary world news through social media, overhearing parents watching television or listening to the radio, or even listening in on adult conversations that aren’t intended for you. Hearing bad news can cause us to feel a lot of fear and anxiety. Sometimes you will want to share bad news with your friends even if you haven’t fully understood it. This can cause something called MISINFORMATION, which is when news is shared that isn’t factually correct. It is important that we get our facts straight before we start spreading news around!
There are many current events and news websites available online for kids in which news articles are written sensitively and clearly so that you can understand it. It is news made just for kids and can help you to know what is happening in the world right now.
Here is a list of kid-friendly sites. Take a quick peek at them now to see what they are like. And feel free to visit them whenever you want to know more about what’s happening in the world.
Here is a video by another school librarian, Marina, reading a book about news called On The News – Our First Talk About Tragedy by Dr. Jilian Roberts. This book will help you to understand more about the news and talks about some feelings connected to hearing about bad things in the news, and how we can cope with those feelings. Click on the video link and then click ‘watch it on youtube’. You can’t watch it on this page.
In the comments on this page, let me know what kids news website you liked the best. Also let me know what you thought about the book On The News.