Teaching Fake News: OLA jot notes
Fifth in a series by Natalie C, one of fabulous librarians who attended the OLA Super Conference this year:
One of the big themes of the conference was the problem of fake news and how, in the current political climate, librarians can teach their users how to identify information they can trust.
Sarah Oesch and Derek Jones, Teacher-Librarians with the Halton District School Board, shared their fake news lesson plans in the session ALL INformation is Not Reliable: Teaching Students to Think Critically During Inquiry Based Research. Oesch and Jones’s lesson is dependent on duping their students. They typically run this unit over a 5-week period, but they indicated that it could easily be condensed if necessary.
Here’s how it breaks down:
Week 1: Listen to a podcast from CBC’s fake news radio show This is That. Derek & Sarah don’t let their students know that the podcast is a parody. Some examples of podcast episodes they’ve used in the past include: Alberta Oil Planes, National Recycling 7 Bin System, Visual Allergies, Toboggan Registry After the students listen to the episode, they’re told to do some more research on the podcast topic for a debate they’ll have in class next week.
Week 2: Switching gears — Finding reliable facts. In the next class, Sarah & Derek don’t return to the podcast and the debate. Instead they pretend that the students need to work on their citation skills. They give them a list of websites and ask them to find 5 reliable facts from the list. What the students don’t realize is that 3 of the 5 websites are hoax sites. These are some of the hoax sites Sarah & Derek use: Dog Island, Help Save the Endangered Tree Octopus, All About Explorers Sarah & Derek collect the assignment and mark it, giving -1 point for each unreliable fact. Most students don’t bother to check the validity of the website and get -5 on the assignment.
Week 3: Finding reliable facts – Learning our lesson. After handing back the assignment, Sarah & Derek discuss what went wrong and provide some tips for evaluating the validity of a website beforehand.Here are some of the strategies they suggest:
- Check the domain of the web address (.edu, .org, .gov)
- Google the website title with “scam” or “hoax”
- Truncate the web address to see the host site
- Check the Contact Us page for the author, address, phone number, and date
- Cross reference the information from another site
Week 4: Finding reliable facts – Take 2 Sarah & Derek offer their students another chance to find reliable facts with a different set of websites. Using the strategies they learned the week before, this time the students do much better.
Week 5: Back to the podcast & the debate The following week, Sarah & Derek return to the debate activity, and give their students more time to find information about their topic. Once they regroup, they ask their students if they used the strategies they had learned the previous week to find reliable information. Everyone typically says no — and Sarah & Derek reveal that the podcast was also FAKE NEWS. Sarah & Derek mentioned that they got a lot of student buy-in with this activity because the students hated being duped by their teacher.
A fun way to introduce the concept of fake news through which students should hopefully learn not to believe everything they read online — or even everything their teacher tells them!
For more information and resources related to Sarah & Derek’s session, access their slide deck: http://bit.ly/SC2017/ALLINformation
Rowan> check out the Professional Libraries resource list on fake news/media literacy: medialiteracy2017_delinked