Remember the telephone game? There’s a line of people, and the first person whispers a message to the person next to them. Then that person whispers what they heard to the next, etc. until the last person says aloud what they heard. Inevitably, the message is not anything like the original. Laughter ensues, and everyone has a good time. While that “party game” is just a little bit of fun, it makes an excellent metaphor for what we experience when we peruse the internet and read the first few words either in a search engine or an article headline. People tend to take those few words and fill in the “holes” with information that might not be totally correct. Then, possibly in conversation, they share the same broken details with another person who, in turn, continues the cycle until something completely different develops.
Moreover, as students search for sources to use in their assignments, it becomes vital for them to filter what is profitable and what will be best for their schoolwork. They need the original piece of information to be factual and trustworthy. ISTE standard 3b states, “Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility, and relevance of information, media, data or other resources.” ISTE standard 3c can also coincide with 3b, stating, “Students curate information from digital resources using a variety of tools and methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions (link here). While ISTE 3b is important for teaching students to use reliable digital sources, it is ISTE 3c that I hope students remember in the future once they are in the “real world.” As the internet continues to grow with more and more information, students, nay, everyone needs some core sources which are accessible, reliable, and consistent to avoid letting the message become something confusing.
CommonSense.org has valuable information regarding teaching students how to “fact check” sites, along with lesson plans for teachers to use. This downloadable pdf is also an excellent handout to pass along to anyone, not just students. I would be remiss if I did not point out that during their education, whether in high school or college, students are “spoon-fed” sources with their school library, and they will do great just utilizing the resources provided on campus. As stated earlier, my desire is for students to take the tools learned, especially research tools, and apply them in everyday life when reading information online. Sometimes we read something that we hope is true. Sometimes the message is real, and sometimes the message is false. Having our own sources to reference when we hear the message helps keep us level-headed and our feet on a better path.
Here is a pdf you can download and pass along to students to get them started:
Thanks for reading!
“News Literacy Resources for Classrooms.” Common Sense Education, 14 Jan. 2021, www.commonsense.org/education/articles/news-literacy-resources-for-classrooms.
“ISTE Standards for Students.” ISTE, www.iste.org/standards/for-students.