News and Media Literacy: Combating Fake News at the High School Library (4).png

Teaching Digital Naivetés?

I think it was around December when I started compiling resources for a lesson in Fake News. I found a ton of great resources from SLJ, the New York Times, and even a professor with a huge list of ideas for analyzing fake or click bait-y news.  However, I still needed a class to teach! Then about a month ago, one of my freshmen teachers said, “I don’t want to do the same old research, I want to get my students to think for themselves!” We worked together and outlined what she wanted her students to be able to do and we both discussed that we didn’t want to focus on politics. Instead, our main goal is for our students to be able to read information and determine if it is accurate or not. We want our students to determine if the things they read hold biases and then be able to decipher fact from fiction.

This might seem like a simple goal, but the murky news waters of the Internet have complicated our student’s ability to reason. Did you know that students many of our students trust everything they see on the web? Even when it is obviously faked?

Flashback to my satirical unit I taught my high school juniors about six years ago using A Modest Proposal and articles from the Onion – they were disturbed and did not see the humor AT ALL in Jonathan Swift’s proposal or the hilariousness of the satire in an Onion article. (If interested in this ELA satire unit, it was based on some great lesson ideas from the book Strange Bedfellows.)  

This absolute trust in what they see on the Internet is what Peter Adams calls digital naiveté moments, when a student trusts a source of information that is obviously unreliable.”  (Read more on Adam’s Edutopia post about the importance of teaching our kids to think critically regarding news literacy here.)

I realized that a lot of times we tell students to check the credibility of their sources during a research unit, but we never explicitly sit down and make sure our students know how to verify that information. (We might give them a checklist, but do we make sure they check each box?) So how can we teach students to be skeptical and not believe every viral video and click bait-y news source they see?

Here is the unit I developed with Ms. Jessup in broad concepts:

Media Literacy Unit

Day One:

  • On the first day, I talk with students about the variety of fake news from viral videos, to false memes, to biased information (most of these videos and news links in this Adobe Spark presentation I found on this New York Times lesson). Throughout this sharing of videos and news links, I discuss with students how to identify and determine accurate information. At the end of this session, I have students fill out 5 random facts about “Fake News” that they learned from the day’s lesson. (I found this sketchnote from Sylvia Duckworth’s Sketchnotes for Beginners Google Slideshow, but it is also available here.) One of the things we felt it was important for students to understand was that the way others define fake news is not only just false information, sometimes others define “fake news” as something that is just not newsworthy. 

Here are some student takeaways from the intro I shared about fake news :

5 facts student learned about fake news and #media #literacy. #libraries

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‪Teaching #rhs students about #media #literacy and evaluating biases. #libraries #tlchat

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Ss observation about #fakenews! #media #literacy #tlchat #libraries

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Day One Cont: Pre-searching and Credibility

  • After thinking about fake news, we discuss how to start looking at news (or any source of information) with a skeptical eye and how students can judge for credibility. Here’s what I give them for guidelines via a Media Literacy GoogleDoc :
    • Pick a topic and start looking for articles with different biases. Update this Googledoc with a link to your news source (we’ll make proper citations next class period).  Before even reading the article, start defining the credibility of your source by thinking about the guidelines below. In the credibility/bias section of your Gdoc, explain why you think this source is credible or not. Make sure to link to the author’s twitter, webpage, or list of other writings to prove your thinking. (You show your work in math, why not show your work in English?)
      • Author Qualifications
        • Who do they work for?
        • Are they an expert in their field?
        • Check LinkedIn , Twitter, Etc
      • Reasonable
        • Is it reasonable or outrageous?
      • Source
        • Who is the source?
        • What do type of information does this site normally publish?
        • Is it a site that normally publishes a certain type of news? What type?
        • Are there lots of ads? What type of ads?

Here is an example of the information we want covered in the student’s annotated bibliography:

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 12.57.10 PM.png

Day Two:

Students will bring up their Media Literacy Gdoc from the last class period. I’ll refresh some of our thinking about fake news and credibility and teach them a little about Advanced Google Searching. Students will keep track of their key search terms in their annotated bibliography and I’ll remind them how to create citations with (Plus, I’ll remind them to fill in missing info and fix the mistakes that the citation generator creates.) 

Day Three:

On the third day, students have to make sure they have three varied sources for their annotated bibliography (and sources must be from the last two years). Citations must be created for each source and the credibility and bias of the author and the source should be defined. When students leave the library, Ms. Jessup is then going to have her freshmen create an argument about what they’ve researched and try to use their own biases to persuade others to believe his or her OPINION.

Now, it your turn

That’s our quick media literacy unit I created to help our students learn to be skeptical of what they see on the Internet. As I told my freshmen, “If I can get you to verify what you read and see on your phones is real and accurate before sharing, then I’ll be happy as a librarian!”

Now it’s your turn to share how you get students to think critically about news sources and information they read on the Internet. In what ways do you teach students to verify information and check for facts? How are you making sure the next generation looks at multiple sources before sharing and retweeting and spreading fake and viral news? Share your resources in the comments of this post!

Lastly, feel free to use this graphic I made in Canva to teach your own students how to think critically and evaluate sources for biased information. I made these as a “placemat” for classes and kept them available while students evaluated their news sources.

Be skepticalVerify informationEvaluate the Author Is the website credible- (4)

Updated – Speaker and Booking Page (3).png

2017 Workshop Offerings

I’ve had a lot of emails lately asking about keynotes, workshop ideas, and speaker rates. Therefore, I’m updating my speaker and booking information page with new workshops for a new school year.  As maker education continues to grow, my workshops and keynotes will change and focus more and more on incorporating maker mindset into existing curriculum.

(Please contact me for pricing and scheduling information. Other workshops are available per request. I can tailor keynotes and workshops based on your school’s needs.)

Full Day Introduction to Makerspace Culture (Ideal for schools new to making or with little experience.)


  • Sketchnotes and Maker Journals (30 min)
  • Setting Goals and Mission Statements for Making (30 min)
  • Makerspace Tools and Materials Exploration (2 hours):
    • Cardboard
    • Makey Makey
    • littleBits
    • Circuits – Paper and Sewing


  • Literacy Connections and Design Challenges (2 hours):
    • Blackout Poetry and Scratch
    • Iggy Peck Architect and LEGO challenge
    • Picture Book Plots and Stop Motion Videos
  • Design Thinking (1 hour)
    • Walk and Talk Etymology
    • Design Thinking Experience
  • Reflection
    • Flipgrid Reflection
    • Journal Reflection

Full Day Advanced Makerspace Workshop (For schools that have started some extracurricular programming, but want to embed making in the curriculum.)


  • Zero to Maker Immersion- Invention Literacy Workshop (3 hours)
    • Sketchnotes and Maker Journals
    • Material Exploration and Lab Testing
    • Exploring Ideas and Embedding Inquiry and Maker Research
    • Prototyping
    • Curriculum Connection Ideas


  • Literacy Connections and Design Challenges (2 hours):
    • Blackout Poetry and Scratch
    • Iggy Peck Architect and LEGO challenge
    • Picture Book Plots and Stop Motion Videos
  • Design Thinking (1 hour)
    • Walk and Talk Etymology
    • Design Thinking Challenge
  • Reflection
    • Flipgrid Reflection
    • Journal Reflection

Makey Makey Educator Certification (Each participant  becomes a Makey Makey Certified Educator AND gets to take home a Makey Makey! Retail value $49.95)


  • Invention Literacy Workshop focused on Makey Makey


  • Invention Literacy Workshop focused on Makey Makey
  • Makey Makey Poetry Explorations

Big Book of Makerspace Projects Workshop

(Guided workshops for teachers or students based on projects from our #bigmakerbook )


  • Low Cost Projects (Balloon, Scribblebots)
  • littleBits and Cardboard
  • Makey Makey Switches


  • Learn to Program Robots
  • Design and Create Obstacle Mazes
  • Programming Races

Scratch for Educators

(Guided workshops for teachers to give them creative confidence in utilizing Scratch for core curriculum concepts.)


  • Getting to Know Scratch- Hands on (1.5 hours)
  • Scratch for Storytelling (1.5 hours)


  • Scratch and Poetry (1.5 hours)
  • Scratch Quizzes, Variables, and Makey Makey (1.5 hours)


Contact me for fees as they can vary according to your needs. Consulting is available on-site or via video conferencing. I can tailor sessions to meet your needs after speaking with you about your school, your community environment, and age of students. During the school year I have a limited amount of days for consulting, so please contact me early as these book rather quickly.