Every week, I challenge myself to a Buzzfeed quiz (I know I know) to see if I’ve been following the news blindly and just reading the headlines or if I’ve dived deeper to see what’s really happening in the world.
What’s even more terrifying is, even though I’m a news junkie, I don’t get perfect scores. I still fall for real-sounding headlines that have just enough credibility to fool me.
The article from The New York Times (with the accompanying link their really amazing lesson plan — NYT has stellar educational resources, FYI) really struck home. What exactly am I doing to help combat fake news? What am I teaching – today – to help my students become more media literate?
The NYT Learning Network has a weekly news quiz for students that I would probably be better served completing instead of Buzzfeed, because, being semi-media literate myself, I understand that the credibility of Buzzfeed, with its glaring, click-baity headlines, is not the paragon of objective, real journalism.
This was especially troubling to my teaching practice because I teach a lot of grade 12s. This is second semester. I’m supposed to be releasing them on the world as fully-fledged adults in THREE MONTHS and I can’t guarantee they’ll know the difference between real and fake news.
I really have my work cut out for me in the next few months.
Luckily, I have the TED Talk about what my students can do and I teach B30, which means my entire course is focused around global issues and this means I have the perfect platform for media literacy education.
This isn’t to say that I can’t or won’t teach media literacy to my other classes, because I most definitely will. However, I feel the most urgency with the grade 12s because they’re graduating so soon.
The problem I face is determining the line between opinion pieces and factual news stories. Websites like Breitbart News have been legitimized through their political connections and combating what is said on that website is difficult because it has been promoted as an unbiased alternative to the “left-wing media”.
Educating students on media literacy is an uphill battle we face as educators and it is one that I am willing to take on.
How have you been taking on the battle against fake news and promoting media literacy in your classroom and your personal life?