April 16

The News Literacy Project’s Checkology Program

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.

October 7

The Sad Little Fact – Being a Fact-Finder in the Age of Misinformation

A fake fact is otherwise known as MISINFORMATION…

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.

  1. Check the source – run a Google Search on the publisher or author of the information and try to find out more
  2. The Rule of Three – check three other sources of information
  3. Check a good fact-checking website like Snopes.

So here is the information I want you to check.  It was posted thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter by regular people so there is no author to check.  You will need to rely on method 2 and 3 here.

 

 

March 23

Become a Fact-Checker – Part 2: A Little Help From My Friends

Last week we tried a new technique called ‘Lateral Reading’ to help us become better fact-checkers.  This week we are going to learn about various websites that are out there that can help us find out if what we have heard or read is factual or not.

You are going to read the following article and visit 3 of the 10 sites that are listed and take some time to explore them.  Top Ten Sites to Help Students Check Their Facts by Jennifer Snelling.  I want all of our OJCS middle schoolers to become proficient at using these sites.

I have heard that there is a Tic Toc video going around that claims that an asteroid is going to hit Earth next week.  I want you to visit snopes and find out if this is true or not.  I mean, this is a serious claim!  Our lives may be in jeopardy (or not!)

In the comments on this page, I want you to post which three sites you explored as well as what you discovered about this asteroid.

 

 

March 17

Become a Fact-Checker… Part 1: Reading Laterally

There is a constant stream of misinformation and disinformation out there about a lot of world news and this is especially true about the Coronavirus.  Misinformation is false or inaccurate information that is often posted deliberately to deceive.  Disinformation is false information put out through certain politicians or governments to deliberately deceive.  Unfortunately, both misinformation and disinformation are frequently accepted as truth and widely shared by people who have believed what they’ve read without looking further afield for confirmation of the information.  As the false information spreads, it causes a lot of very confused ideas and can even wrongly influence public opinion.  It is in itself very much like a virus that spreads and infects the mind.

By becoming a fact-checker you can help stop the spread of the disease of misinformation!  The first step to becoming a fact-checker is to use your head!  Critical thinking is an essential skill of the fact-checker.  If something doesn’t sound right to you, it very often isn’t.  That feeling that something you’ve read is off should be the first indicator that you need to research further.  Researching outside of the suspected piece of information is called ‘Lateral Reading’.

To read laterally, the first thing you can do is use Google or another trusted search engine to search for information about your source or the author of the information.  Searching about your source can often reveal within seconds if the source is trustworthy or not.  But when it comes to social media, often the person responsible for posting is just a regular person and there won’t be information available about that person online.  So the second way you can read laterally is to search for more articles about the information you suspect to be false.  So when someone told me that Justin Bieber was so dumb he didn’t know how to eat a burrito properly and was photographed eating it sideways, I thought, hmmmm, that doesn’t sound right to me.  I typed Justin Bieber Burrito into the Google search bar, and the first article was about how the photo was a hoax.

Another example of this is that I received an email suggesting that I stay away from spicy food to avoid the Coronavirus.  I immediately thought that sounded wrong and did a quick Google search Coronavirus Spicy Food.  The first article was about how that information was completely false.

So now is your opportunity to try lateral reading.  Here are three social media posts that are either misinformation or are real information.

Step 1: Look at all of these social media posts.  Which ones immediately seem off to you and why?  Which one do you immediately trust and why?

Step 2: Do some lateral reading.  How long did it take you to determine how true or false this information was?

Step 3: Answer step 1 and 2 questions as a brief comment on this blog post page.

Step 4: Teach your parents and grandparents how to do this too!  That way we can all fight the virus of misinformation!

Post #1 – From the account of Facebook user Michael Conniff

 

 

Post #2 from the Twitter verified (blue checkmark) World Health Organization account

 

Post #3 from Twitter, user Allison Pearson