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5 Tools to Help Evaluate Sources in a World of Fake News

5 Tools to Help Evaluate Sources in a World of Fake News

This post was originally published on  Daily Genius you can check it out by following the link above.

Whether you call it “fake news”, “misinformation” or the more innocuous “spin,” and whether you see this as an entirely new problem or the continuation of an already existing problem (think “War of the Worlds,” “Yellow Journalism” and “Dewey Defeats Truman”), one thing is clear: there is a powerful and pressing need to prepare our youth to make sense of the constant flow of media information that they consume everyday.

As teachers, we need to be aware of how students are consuming their information.  Recent studies have shown that 69% of Americans get their news from Facebook, while other research suggests that social media such as Snapchat and Twitter are how millennials are staying up to date with current events.  Yet a study from Stanford University suggests that a majority of young Americans cannot accurately identify what content on a web page is news and what is advertising or paid content.

Have we as teachers moved to adjust how we instruct our students to evaluate information as the sources for that information have changed? This isn’t always easy, especially since the trends in social media are fluid and changing.   While there is no one silver bullet website that can resolve this issue, many helpful resources exist. Here are a few to help you get started in constructing your curriculum.

5 Tools to Help Evaluate Sources in a World of Fake News

The Stanford History Group: The Stanford History Group is well known to history teachers. Recently, they published an executive summary entitled EVALUATING INFORMATION: THE CORNERSTONE OF CIVIC ONLINE REASONING.  It provides a summary of the research they conducted in 2015-16 and includes samples activities geared towards middle and high school students designed to teach students to evaluate articles, comment sections, News on Social media, and website reliability.  It is a must read for teachers at any level.  The sample activities will have you thinking.

Allsides:  Allsides allows readers to evaluate the bias of news articles collected from across online news sites. The site also features the ability for readers rate news sources and individual articles as LEFT or RIGHT leaning. Students can explore the overall ratings of sites or choose articles specifically from one perspective or another.  The site is great for making comparisons of topics from several sites.

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Politifact:  Politifact is the Pulitzer prize winning fact checking website created by the Tampa Bay Times.  It uses a “Truth-O-Meter” to rate the accuracy of politicians and parties.  During last year’s election, Politifact live tweeted during debates, quickly evaluating statements and statistics.  It was a helpful tool for class discussions. The site allows you to search for topics or individual politicians.  For each rating, the site offers an explanation of how they arrived at their conclusion.

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Factcheck.org is a project from the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.  In addition to evaluating the truthfulness of political statements, Factcheck has a viral spiral feature that addresses internet rumors, a SciCheck page that evaluates scientific claims, and an “Ask Us” feature that allows questions to be submitted for fact checking.

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Google Custom Search: If you can’t find the tools that work best for you, you can make your own.  Google Custom search allows you to select and curate websites that will be searched by your students.  Classes can create a standard for what sites they will use for a lesson or for research assignments and then add them to their custom search if it is determined that they meet the standard. This allows the class to be active and engaged in building a collection of trusted sources.   Individual students can construct a search engine for their projects, allowing them to go back and search sources again as their research evolves.   Teachers can save a variety of different searches which can be shared with students or embedded in websites.

It should be noted that Snopes.com is missing from the list above. The site has been evaluating online news, stories, and urban legends since the 1990’s. I omitted it not because it lacks any value but because while it is useful, it is so compelling that when I take students there they can sometimes get lost down the rabbit hole.

However you are preparing your students, one thing is clear — it is critical that we, as educators, consider how our students are accessing the news and information and how we can help them actively process all that is pushed to them through social media throughout the day.

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eSchool News Top 14 Trailblazing Educators on Twitter

I am proud to have been named to the eSchool News Top 14 Trailblazing Educators on Twitter.  In reflecting on my years on Twitter, I can’t help but think of all the passionate educators that I have met along the way while sharing our learning. Years of rethinking education have shown me that while there is much to do, the schools of America are full of the best kind of people.

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San Diego Innovation Summit Keynote

While I have not been good about posting to this blog in the last year, I have still stayed very busy traveling and presenting.  Last week I delivered a keynote at the San Diego Innovation Summit titled “Behind the Science of Innovation: 
Bringing About Significant Positive Change.”  Co presenting with Beth Holland, our goal was to look at the actual science and research behind innovative teaching.  We look at what the research says and what the implications are for teachers in the age of information.

 

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A Year without One-to-One via EdTechResearcher

This post originally appeared May 3rd, 2015 as a guest post on the EdTechResearcher blog. Many thanks to Justing Reich for the opportunity.  

Today’s guest post comes from Shawn McCusker, a teacher who moved from a 1:1 laptop environment to a new school with fewer technology resources. An innovator in 1:1 classroom implementation and the creation of online learning communities, Shawn is a teacher and Social Studies Department Chair at Libertyville High School (IL).

In 2006, my principal called me into her office and asked about rumors that I had been using student phones in class. It was my first year at the school, so I hesitated before acknowledging that I had. Her next reaction surprised me: she gave me free reign to use them as much as possible so long as I shared the results. She felt that we could not hold back the coming tide of technology from our classrooms. As it was just a matter of time before the ban on mobile devices in schools would end, so began my journey with mobile technology in the classroom.

Last year, after teaching for two years in a 1:1 iPad classroom, I accepted a position at a school that had not yet made the move to 1:1. Though plans were in the works to do so, for one year, my students would not have devices. While much technology would still be readily accessible in the form of carts and labs, using it in class would be more incidental and not a daily occurrence.

After a year of planning lessons without the daily presence of student devices, here are the differences that I have faced and what I look forward to in the coming year.

1. Greater Student Control of Content
I quickly realized that once my students were in possession of devices, the lecture format that had comprised a good portion of my teaching would never be the same. When students CAN fact check what you say, they do. This was difficult until I realized that it was exactly what I wanted them to do; fact check a narrative. Rather than fearing the commentary, I constructed class around it. Soon, most of the content that we discussed came from student contributions rather than my notes or the textbook. In discussions, when an unknown arose, it became a class norm for students to fill the void.

With limited access to technology, classroom resources are frequently provided by the teacher and unknowns are often left for the teacher to resolve. While incorporating student contributed content can be a priority, the timeliness and volume can’t compare when students do not have devices. Even with the greatest level of care and professionalism, this represents a filter on class content. Next year, I will prioritize the creation of a classroom that is once again fueled by sources, ideas and concepts generated by the students.

2. Multiple Perspectives and More Than One Correct Answer
When all of the world’s knowledge is available, it can be hard to reach a single conclusion. Though initially a struggle, I ultimately came to believe that the debates to construct and defend such arguments made for outstanding learning. These lessons were far more dynamic, engaging and social than previous ones. The activities allowed students to understand the way that others constructed their ideas and regularly required them to articulate their positions.

3. Dynamic Projects
The nature of class work is different without technology. More often than not, completed work is collected and exists in piles of paper. It is then graded and returned.

In technology rich classrooms, the variety of tools allows students to select the medium which best conveys their idea. Because of the unique nature of the work, these class products generated energy and commentary. Students were more excited to share what they had made and more eager to consume the work of their classmates. In fact, my new policy is that I will not assign work that I am not interested in grading. This year, without these tools available in class, it has been a challenge.

4. Feedback
One eye opening realization was the speed and volume of feedback in a 1:1 classroom. With devices, delivering feedback to students became more efficient and timely because once I posted a comment online my students were alerted and able to respond. There was no need to wait for class work to be physically handed back.

Much more powerful, however, was the volume of student feedback that was shared as my comments became just one of many. I found it helpful to construct my feedback by referring to the thoughtful comments that classmates had shared which established the class norms to define quality. This year, I have been hungry for those thoughts, and they have been harder to harvest. I regularly use Exit Slips and methods like “Fist or Five,” but I am eager to recreate the depth of commentary and to once again have the rich feedback that helps me generate more meaningful learning.

5. Student Centered Learning
The ability to add content, an environment that allowed for students to defend their interpretation of information, and dynamic student constructed projects moved students to the center of learning. It was not long before I felt comfortable asking students to help me construct learning objectives and design complete units. For example, my unit on World War II transformed into an NCAA style research tournament presided over by a jury of seniors. I would never have planned such an activity by myself, but it was highly effective and meaningful for the class.

Having technology available for a day or several days can help to move students to the center of learning, but giving them possession of those tools makes truly transformative student centered learning a reality. I am eager for the opportunity to once again harness these powerful tools for learning on a daily basis.

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How to Transform Teaching with Tablets

I was proud to be included in an article in this month’s Educational Leadership.    Reading this made had me thinking about how to make my new curriculum better this year.  A friend once told me that it takes 5 years to get your class back up to speed if you change schools.  I have no intention of taking that long.

May 2015 | Volume 72 | Number 8
Teaching with Mobile Tech Pages 18-23

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may15/vol72/num08/How-to-Transform-Teaching-with-Tablets.aspx

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#CE14 The Connected Classroom

Tonight I participated in a Connected Educator’s month through Connectedlearning.tv.  The other guests for the chat offered some great insight into how we as teachers can grow trough our connections, but more importantly the conversation moved to the topic of how being connected affects learning in our schools.

I strongly believe that unless we as educators can convert our philosophical discussions into tangible classroom change, we are doing lip service to change.  Discussions like this one like this one that discuss “what the connected classroom looks like” are just the start.  We have to have meaningful discussions about the validity of the tasks that we put before our students. We have to put the “why” first in what we do.

I hope you find this discussion helpful.

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#TechTipTuesday

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Creating a Culture of Research and Writing in a 1:1 Environment

In the last year, the topic of writing has come to dominate my presentations.  I’ve always wanted to be a better writing teacher and technology gave me new avenues to approach that topic. Rather than trying to create assignments where students write, I have been working to create an environment where writing is key to learning. In that way the task supports the class goal, rather than writing being a one stop waypoint in the bigger classroom journey.  This presentation is one of my favorites. I’m sure that I will continue to speak on the topic. In the near future my interests have shifted to creativity and and the classroom.

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Four Ways to Think About Using Thinglink – Rethinking Thinglink

This post originally appeared on Free Tech for Teachers. See the original post here.

While there are some very creative web tools out there, ThingLink is one of my favorites. It has earned this status by passing several of my key benchmark-tests for the classroom:
It is dependable and accessible.

Students need not fear that their work will be lost as it automatically saves.

It is relatively easy to learn and use.

Rarely does a lesson become more about “ThingLink” than the topic about which students are trying to express their knowledge.
For new users, ThingLink allows you to upload a picture and active links to a variety of media, essentially making an image touchable as illustrated below.

 

 

Thinglink is a powerful tool, and some new uses are making it even more compelling. Beyond creating pictures with links, images, and videos, a “next level” exists that turns ThingLink into a powerful organizer, aggregation tool, and curator.

1. Student Organizational Tool
Use ThingLink to organize class projects with multiple online components. Thinglink not only supports the student doing the organization, but also helps their classmates who can now see the creation PROCESS as well as the final product. Teachers can create customized images for the students to use as backgrounds that support the desired process and could even serve as a project check-list.

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Image Credit: Shawn McCusker

2. Digital Portfolios
Students can post links to their course work from throughout the year to a single ThingLink to connect projects, videos, artwork, essays, outlines, posters. etc. (See the example below.)

The power of using Thinglink as a portfolio is the ease with which it can combine media from varied places and then the simplicity with which it can be then be embedded in a web page or blog. Thinkglink converts lists of web links into polished and visually appealing posts. Once a Thinglink is embedded in a page, any additional changes made to it will automatically update.

 

3. Showcasing Classroom Learning
Thinglink can make sharing a class’ work with the rest of the school and community easier. The physical class bulletin board or hallway project display has long served as a way to share the work of an entire class with the rest of the school, parents or the community. ThingLink can make student work easily available to others, allowing the learning to be extended and valued throughout the entire community. The simplicity can make sharing with classes outside of your school, with classes across the country, or even with classes from around world all possible with a single link. Parents can access the work, creating real transparency and openness to the school community. Classwork tells the story of our classrooms, and as Patrick Larkin (@patrickmlarkin) says, “If you don’t tell your story, someone else will tell it for you.”

Image credit: Shawn McCusker

4. Assignment and Task Organizer
As the complexity of classroom tasks and assignments increases, it is important to present them in an easily understandable way. ThingLink can be used as a tool for teachers to deliver various components of an assignment to students – neatly placing all of them together in one place. Additionally, ThingLink images can be embedded into web pages, or shared via LMS systems such as Schoology, Edmodo, Moodle etc., allowing it to integrate seamlessly with other systems that the teacher already has in place. (This example was created by Joe Maher during a workshop this summer.)

 

 

Beyond its ability to function as a creative and organizational tool for learning, Thinglink is a powerful way to develop visual literacy in an age where visual communication is an important skill.

There are infinite ways to leverage the simple but effective powers of ThingLink for yourself and your students. If you have been using ThingLink in a unique and creative way, then I encourage you to add your example to the comments below.

 

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Teaching the Humanities with Technology

Today I participated in a webinar about integrating technology in Humanities classrooms. One of the reasons I like to participate in these events is that it forces me to evaluate myself and my practice and allows me to collect many new ideas. If you notice towards the end, while the others are talking I start writing ideas down. Look for future posts that share black out poetry and common craft videos. I’m also really excited to look into Vocabla (http://vocabla.com/ ) and Inkle Writer (http://www.inklestudios.com/inklewriter/) .

If you are interested I will be presenting on Creating a Culture of Writing at the EdTechTeacher Summit in July and I will leading variety of workshops  throughout June.

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April 24, 2014 · 5:13 pm