Source: Pamela Van Halsema’s Post

Just last week, the TL I work with at Narragansett Elementary School was asking me to come up with some sources for teaching students how to spot and avoid fake news. I know we’re not the only librarians concerned about this issue, and it was timely that I found Pamela’s post for my peer review. In her post, she sums up the problem nicely – students aren’t necessarily starting their search with library materials and links to trustworthy online sources. How do we get students to get away from the quick Google search? Partnering with teachers is the first step in Pamela’s plan. Helping students find trustworthy sources for classroom work is a great way to get them in the habit of always starting with those sources for research. If time allows, invite classes into the library for extra help with their projects. If you are a “special” (or exploratory, as some schools call them), use your scheduled time to work specifically on your teacher collaborator’s lessons.

Another idea is to put visual aids everywhere the kids (and their parents) will see them. Posters on walls. Bookmarks to hand out. Infographics published on the school’s FB page. IFLA produced a really nice one: IFLA Fake News Infographic .

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Pamela also mentioned several online sources that she might use to develop lesson plans, and I thought I would explore that further.  As she mentions, Common Sense Media and The News Literacy Project have some good links to articles about fake news. This is a good starting point, butI work in K-5 schools, and would really like to have a lesson tailored for the students I work with. I’m finding that lessons at most sites I visit are for older students. However, I did find an article on Edutopia suggesting to look at a site the students already use and have students “identify the ads as distinct from the content” (Hertz, 2016). This simple task a great first step in teaching kids to identify content vs. junk on a page. Talk with students about what the ads are selling, why they think the advertiser chose the site you are on, and if they are the right target audience.

Next, Hertz (2016) recommends giving students links to both real and fake news sites, and a checklist to fill out for each. She recommends using the CARS (credible, accurate, responsible, supported) acronym to develop the checklist with elementary students, as opposed to the CRAP acronym (currency, reliability, authority, purpose/point of view) for older students. Although, I think the CRAP acronym is more suited, and clearer. And it would get kids to laugh, and laughter leads to learning. Coming up with a list of trusted sources as a group would also be a helpful exercise.

Practicing good research habits, reminding the students frequently, and basic, introductory lesson plans are a good start for younger students to learn about fake news and how to avoid it.

Hertz, M. B. (2016, December 21). Battling Fake News in the Classroom. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/battling-fake-news-classroom-mary-beth-hertz