DigiLit Sunday: Real vs. Fake News

When I was in fifth grade, I wrote two research reports: one on Abraham Lincoln and one on the State Mississippi. My research involved several volumes of the World Book encyclopedia. Many have this memory. It was limited research and borderline plagiarism. Over time I learned and grew.

My fifth-grade students are starting research articles.  They have chosen their topics and have questions. Now they want to grab a device. That’s their encyclopedia. In some ways, it’s better than my World Book experience in that it offers the opportunity to look at multiple sources.  But in other significant ways, the downside is the reliability or credibility of the information they retrieve.

The sheer volume of information is overwhelming. What’s a young reader/researcher to do?  I’d rather my students have one reliable source over multiple bad ones. In spite of my reservations, I can not disregard real, fake or somewhere-in-between information is available and being used. Fortunately, there are simple things we can teach kids. Kevin Hodgson’s slide show details useful and straightforward ways for kids to be on the look out for fake news red flags.

The critical part of the lessons in real versus fake news is not how to fact check but why we need to test the reliability of our sources. Misrepresenting the facts to get people to think a certain way or do a certain thing is nothing new. Our president-elect’s slippery use of facts and approach to the media has just made us pay attention to something that has been and will always be. We must be critical consumers of information.

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In the best of situations, how the writer or editor sees the news, creates a bias. Fake versus real is making headlines now, and hopefully changing the way we teach and consume the information we are fed.

Read more on this topic on Margaret Simon’s blog Reflection on the Teche.

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7 thoughts on “DigiLit Sunday: Real vs. Fake News

  1. Julieanne,
    The fact that there are so many MORE sources available does make life much MORE interesting than when we were students spitting out “one source reports”. Those were the days!

    This is important and our students MUST learn from the current “fake news explosion”. “In the best of situations, how the writer or editor sees the news, creates a bias. Fake versus real is making headlines now, and hopefully changing the way we teach and consume the information we are fed.”

  2. Ironically, by blogging we are adding to the information age. I think I have an appreciation for other’s opinions and thoughts on a topic; however, we have to be more discerning about what we write, what we post, and what we teach. Oh the good ole days of encyclopedia research! This age of information at your fingertips can be both exciting and scary. Thanks for joining the conversation today.

  3. Your post really got me thinking about the old world book days. I suppose we found the information largely “reliable”. However the viewpoints considered were SO incredibly limited. How can that be 100% credible when it leaves out so many perspectives? It’s a whole new world with so much information and acesss readily available.

  4. Thank you for sharing the resources! I am going to share your blog with the 4th and 5th grade teachers in my building, as well as the other literacy coaches in my district. This is a great message to get out there.

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