We have discussed teaching digital literacy in our class quite a bit. The consensus is that it is never too early to learn about it. Considering most children start using technology before they can read or write, and sometimes even walk; it is important that digital literacy is taught both inside the classroom and outside of the classroom.
I am pursuing my degree in Middle Years education which is from grades 6 through 9. I would hope that the students would have already had at least intermediate to advanced skills in digital literacy, but particularly in identifying fake news. We are constantly surrounded by it. For the tweens, it is rampant among social media. Since social media is the most popular medium on the internet for young people, it is imperative that I guide them regarding how to identify false information that they are bombarded with on a daily basis.
Teaching digital literacy in this age range would require some creativity to keep them engaged. I don’t think just standing in front of a classroom would suffice. As I was browsing the articles to reference for this post, one of them gave me an idea. In the article. ‘You’re Not Going to Believe What I’m Going to Tell You’, it presents a comic strip to showcase different ways the media can perpetuate fake news by using the emotions of the reader. I believe using a comic strip could be a great way to engage students in learning how to identify fake news. There could be 5 or 6 groups where students would work together to create a comic strip. Some would have fake news, some would be real news. Once completed, the entire class would work together to determine which one is real and which one is not, based on different factors, like sources, fact checking and wording.
“Ultimately, in a world where it is increasingly dangerous to simply trust what we read and see, it is critical that students are taught to approach the world around them with a healthy sense of skepticism to avoid being misled, duped, or scammed(De. Alec Couros, Katia Hildebrandt).”
This quote from the online article, ‘How do we teach students to identify fake news?’ provides a plethora of resources for students and teachers alike, to help them determine which sources they are receiving information from, are legitimate or not. The websites included help searchers with information verification, sample media bias charts and other practical resources. I will put some quick links below, but for a more detailed list, please check out the article hyperlinked above.
- Hoax Slayer
- 5 Ways to Spot Fake News – Video and article from Common Sense Media
- What’s News: Fake, False, Misleading, Clickbait, Satire, or Carefully Reported?
Lastly, I think the most practical way to teach my students about digital literacy, is to provide them with unlimited access to information they need to watch out for. I could do this by posting a few posters in the classroom. For example, the one from Media Literacy for Citizenship that shows 10 Types of Misleading News.
Teaching digital literacy does not just apply to computer class. The subject of literacy ties to other parts of the Saskatchewan curriculum like English Language Arts. For example, the students are reading and observing important information that can lead them to identify simple things like incorrect grammar and punctuation. Another tie could be through Social Studies, as students are expected to learn how to treat others around them with respect and kindness. Not simply because it is the right thing to do, but because it is also the law. This not only applies to one another in person, but also on the internet. Which leads into Health Studies. A healthy digital identity is important, because it will carry over into our mental and physical health.
If you would like more information specifically pertaining to Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools, there is an incredible Policy Planning Guide that can be very helpful in understanding why it is important to teach it to our students and teachers.