If your students read this article today, how would they react? Would they believe it, or would they question its reliability? A study by Stanford found that 82% of middle school students could not distinguish between sponsored content and credible news stories on websites. With 88% of 18 year olds accessing news through social media sites, teaching students about media literacy is more important than ever. Facts, Opinions, and Fake News provides fake news examples for students as well as project based learning lessons to help teach students how to distinguish between fact and fiction in the news.
The article shown above was written by a group of talented 9th grade students from Ms. Martin’s English class in Honduras who completed in this project with more than 1,000 students from around the world. Ms. Martin’s students participated in discussion forums, practiced distinguishing between fact and opinion, shared tips for investigating whether or not a source is reliable, and created fake news articles.
Our PenPal Stars this week are four students from Ms. Martin’s class: Lila, Isabella, MJ, and Ema from Honduras! For their final Showcase project, each girl helped publish detailed fake news examples that included tweets, headings, and images. They also stood out as leaders because they frequently posted evidence and resources in the student forums to contribute to a global conversation about fake news. Read their reflections and see their fake news stories in this project based learning example:
Share a fake news story. How do you know the story is fake? Explain why you think the author chose to write the story.
Lila: It's Lift Off for New Coca-Cola Helium https://www.coca-cola.co.uk/newsroom/press.../lift-off-for-new-coca-cola-helium
This fake news article was published as a April Fool’s joke by Coca Cola employees in 2017. The article is about how Coke is adding a ‘new ingredient’ to the classic soft drink: helium. The article said that with an added shot of helium gas to the Coke buyers would be able to experience having a squeaky voice much like the one people get when they inhale helium. This was of course, fake news. The effect of the high pitched voice can only be achieved when a person inhales helium, it does nothing to a person’s voice when they drink it. Plus, with all the other ingredients in Coca Cola, helium would have little to no effect. I believe this fake news was harmlessly made as an April fools joke. It was published to make people laugh and to make other people question if their loved soft drink would actually do this, in short it was made to draw attention towards the Coca Cola company.
Is news important? Why or why not?
Isabella: https://www.laprensa.hn/honduras/1224108-410/lluvias-onda-tropical-clima-tiempo-honduras It has been announced that next Monday in Honduras we will experiencing heavy rains and floods. This news is helpful because it makes us take precautionary measures to avoid tragedies. In my community we always take precautionary measures because it floods easily where I live. We usually experience this type of rains around this time of the year.
Share an example of a credible news outlet. Explain how you checked the credibility of the news outlet.
Ema: I believe that the New York Times is a reliable news outlet since they are known to only have a slight bias. I checked this news outlet's credibility through the Media Bias/Fact Check Website. I read about who it is owned by and checked that it was a current news website. Even though the site is biased I checked that it as factual and reliable, which it was. I also researched one of their journalists, Dean Baquet's credibility and found that he is factual just as it was said about the New York Times. Dean Baquet was hired by Joseph Lelyveld in and was the first African American in the New York Times. Thanks to Baquet's work, The New York Times has won 13 Pulitzer Prizes, only further showing that he was factual and reliable.
How does fake news impact your community?
MJ: "Hondureños caen en la trampa de las fake news" Hondurans fall in the fake news trap. This is the title of the article written by the local newspaper La Prensa. In the article, you could read about how the local community has been believing everything they read on the internet, and how to prevent falling for everything you hear/read. "In Honduras, fake news have become tools of all political parties, whose leaders, consciously or unconsciously, multiply them through social networks in order to influence the opinion of citizens." You can see hear in this quote how fake news can be used even in small third world countries like Honduras. This article is important for us to read since we need to learn who to trust when it comes to news. If you would like to know more I will provide you the link: https://www.laprensa.hn/honduras/1195563-410/hondurenos-caen-trampa-fake-news
Copyright © www.laprensa.hn
Media literacy is an international concern. By connecting students from different countries through global project based learning, students are able to see both the community and global impact that fake news can have. Ms. Martin reflects:
“Through global communication students are able to challenge stereotypes and eliminate biases by uniting them with peers from around the world. In these experiences, students are able to establish connections, as well as friendships, that encourage them to grow not only as students but as individuals.”
We reached out to Lila and Isabella to find out more about them and their experience with PenPal Schools:
PENPAL SCHOOLS: How did you feel when you found out you were going to be featured as a PenPal Star?
Lila: I felt very proud of myself! My work and thoughts were being recognized and I was proud of the effort I put into those answers. I was also excited that I was one of the few of my class chosen.
Isabella: I was shocked because I didn't know I was going to get chosen from all of the people who participated in it.
What has been your favorite thing about learning with PenPals?
Lila: My favourite thing about learning with PenPals was how you could see different answers to the same question from students all over the world. You can say your own opinion and people can comment and build on it, and you can do the same for others answers.
What was the most important lesson you learned in this project?
Lila: The most important lesson I learned during this project was on how to identify credible sources. I always used to think that if something sounded professional it meant it HAD to be professional and therefore trustworthy. But now I know that just because something sounds true doesn't mean it actually is and you should fact check your sources to make sure they're reliable.
Isabella: The most important lesson I learned is how to identify fake news because I learned how to identify and be aware of them, which I believe is an important skill to have.
Tell us about the final project you decided to publish in the showcase! What did you choose to create, and why? How did you come up with that idea?
Lila: For our final project I was in a group with two of my classmates, MJ and Giuliana. Our fake news article was on how our Honduran president, Juan Orlando, cancelled homework for all schools in the country. We decided to create this news story since many days I wished to have no homework. So we decided that it would be funny to write and article and see if people would be convinced if it was true.
Isabella: Our final project was to create a fake news story and we wrote about Kanye West running for president. We chose this topic because recently, Kanye has been making controversy for visiting the white house and his tweets about running for president. We came up with that idea because I had recently seen a meme of Kanye being president.
What is the most interesting thing you learned from your PenPals?
Lila: How much fake news people can make and how easy people can verify if their sources are trustworthy. It takes very little effort to make up a credible sounding piece of news as we proved with our fake news article but I've learnt that the spread of that kind of news can be avoided with a quick search.
How has your project changed the way you think about the world?
Lila: It showed me all the different events going on in all these different countries and how people from all over the world could unite over them.
Isabella: It has made me think of how people just read a news story and decide to believe it without checking other sources or to know if its true. People tend to believe everything that they read and is a bad habit they should stop.
Why do you think it's important to learn with other students from around the world?
Lila: It's important to open our views on how other students think and what other students feel. Different students giving their opinions can help other students develop and better their ideas.
Isabella: I think it’s important because we get to understand their perspective and understanding of their culture when you are working with them.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Lila: I would love to go to Austria! One of my favourite movies, The Sound of Music, is set in Austria and I'd love to see where the movie was filmed.
Isabella: I would like to travel to Europe especially Italy and France because I want to see all the historical sites and get to know its people and culture.
What advice do you have about being a great PenPal?
Lila: Go above and beyond what is expected for a comment or response, explain your evidence as clearly as possible for other PenPals to understand. Be kind with your constructive criticism but at the same time be helpful, tell people in what areas they can improve in with their answers.
Isabella: You should always be yourself and respectful, you should also try encouraging conversation
Congratulations Lila, Isabella, MJ, and Ema! Your projects highlight the importance of media literacy and help teach students around the world about fake news. Keep up the great work!
Learn about media literacy and view more fake news examples for students here:
What Kinds of Fake News do Students See? Fake News Examples for Students
PBL Example: Student Investigates Fake News Examples from around the World
Learning Digital Citizenship