fake news

Even Teachers Can Be Fooled

Last week, another news story about fidget spinners appeared on my Facebook feed. Not only were my friends sharing it, but it was also shared within teacher groups that I belong to as well. You might be familiar with the story already:

Columbus, Ohio School Teacher Loses Eye After Fidget Spinner Breaks in Classroom

The article was posted on a website called FocusTimes. When I first read the article, I thought it horrible, but knew that accidents happen. I didn’t share it, but I did watch the posts I had seen online. I kept thinking about the article, especially after so many immediately felt validated by it because of their general dislike for the toy as it is. Something seemed off.

Then, other teachers started questioning it as well. We came up with some common read flags for potential fake news:

  • Only one source had it. No internet searches yielded any other sites with the news
  • It immediately provoked a strong feeling of anger in those who disliked the toy
  • It validated a feeling that the dislike side had right off
  • Nowhere was there any identifier to place the school or to further look into

With that in hand, I saw fit to submit it to Snopes.com to have them take a look further into the story. The very next day, I received a response. Apparently, enough people had submitted the story, and Snopes had verified that it was indeed a false news story.

I returned to the teacher forum where I had originally seen the post and created my own stating that the original story was indeed fake, and that it had been verified with Snopes. Some teachers knew it was fake, others not so much, but they were glad that it was. Even teachers aren’t above being fooled by internet articles.

If you were fooled, it’s best to be humble and accept that you have been fooled. It does make for a good story for students so that they can see that no one is perfect, and that we all fall for journalistic tricks from time to time. Please do not let your students keep believing that it is a true story, even if it does seem to quell the use of fidget spinners in your classroom.

Oddly enough, the same website that posted this false fidget spinner toy story also posted this false one as well.

Hyperdoc Resource: Don’t Be Fooled! Learn to Be a Healthy Skeptic

“Fake news” is a term that’s become more and more popular. What isn’t new is students falling for such news reports, often failing to research or dig deeper for the truth. Instead, whatever has been posted is taken at face value.

Here is a hyperdoc that I developed with the assistance of the journalism/media teacher. It focuses on helping students to determine how likely something online is fake news. It was designed for a high school mass media class so will work well for 9th-12th grades. In the interest of focusing on fake vs. valid, we did not use anything political in this particular lesson.

Name: Don’t Be Fooled! Learn to be a Healthy Skeptic
Description: A hyperdoc for grades 9-12 on determining the validity of a news article. Includes resources, and a final project in Prezi.
Notes: For this lesson, there is a form for evaluating and a doc with directions for the project. Both are currently set in the hyperdoc to make a copy. Make sure that you modify each as needed, and then repost with your own link before sharing with students.

Link to Hyperdoc

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