Can this infographic help students spot a phony news article? Test it out with your students, kids or friends and let us know in the comments.
A few weeks ago, we reported on how some Washington educators will be asking the Legislature for money to reform civics education as a way to combat fake news.
Whether that initiative will pass is up in the air. But there’s an infographic for teachers (and any news consumer) wondering how to best approach misinformation in the short-term.
A Washington, D.C.-based organization, the News Literacy Project (NLP), has come up with a straightforward guide to help separate fact from conspiracy theory.
“Ten Questions For Fake News Detection” helps teachers and students comb through an article to find telltale signs of falsehood. Use of all caps and excessive punctuation are on the list of potential red flags, according to the graphic.
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Peter Adams, the senior vice president for educational programs at NLP, said the worksheet was created in late November, when concerned teachers began to ask the organization how to best address fake news in their classrooms.
NLP, founded in 2008, develops resources and products that help educators teach students about smart news consumption, civic freedoms and the newsmaking process.
“Misinformation is being spread in ways it hasn’t been,” Adams said. And it’s taking a toll on students. Around the same time NLP released its infographic, a team of Stanford researchers released a study that revealed widespread inability to verify information among middle-schoolers, high-schoolers and even college students.
Being skeptical is only half the battle when evaluating news sources. The worksheet’s first question asks the reader to gauge his or her emotional reaction to an article.
“Confirmation bias is a powerful thing,” Adams said. “We like for students to stop and think, ‘Hold on: Is this making you angry?'”
For teachers interested in accessing more news-literacy resources, NLP is piloting a virtual platform called Checkology, where teachers and students can access about a dozen different lessons digitally, many of which are taught by journalists in the field. One of the activities on the platform, “Be the Editor,” gives students a lesson about news judgment: They’re given 20 stories and asked to feature only five of them on a mock website. Other topics explored include social-media algorithms and citizen watchdogs.
Basic membership with Checkology is free with registration. To test-drive premium features, which allows individual activities and assessments for students, teachers can apply for a fee waiver from March 1 until the end of June.
If you decide to try this infographic in your classroom or at home, we’d love to hear about it. Leave us a note in the comments or, if you prefer to reflect on the experience, submit a guest column.