Parents often ask for suggestions about the steps they can take to help their children develop stronger and more robust digital world skills. I often suggest that families use the time spent eating together at the dinner table to bring up and consider connected world topics. Most adults will recall that, as they grew up, dinner table conversations were a time when family members learned together, chatting about critical issues and challenges in the world, Today’s family mealtimes are just as important. Below are five topics that can encourage learning, lively discussion and improved decision making, all while eating a meal together.
If you are searching for an educational media literacy initiative that focuses on the mechanics of fact-checking, take a few minutes to learn about MediaWise, a project of the Poynter Institute.
Eighteen teenagers from around the United States are part of a MediaWise fact-checking network, learning about strategies and techniques that can help them identify misinformation. They participate in training that helps them understand how to determine what’s true and what’s not, and then the teens can set about investigating on their own. Finally, and this is the cool part, after the students decide whether the information is true or false, they create videos that illustrate the process they used to evaluate the information.
I’ve spent some time on this blog discussing the importance of credibility and evaluation — what I call 21st Century vocabulary words. Understanding how to evaluate and judge the credibility of content is digital life survival skill. Thus, when I discover a new resource that supports student learning I am always excited.
The News Literacy Projectwebsite features an excellent video with individuals — of all ages — sharing their thoughts about how news literacy skills can help people know what information to trust. It will be a useful tool for teachers who are developing student activities that focus on media credibility and evaluation. It can be well-paired with student activities that feature the online or app exhibits of the Newseum front pages
If you think a lot about fake news these days, and if you aim to help your students or family members develop the ability to effectively evaluate and decide what’s real and what’s not, National Public Radio (NPR) just published an excellent article, Fake or Real? How to Self-Check the News and Get the Facts. This piece highlights six steps that individuals can use to judge the stories they encounter, and the article includes a detailed description about how to go about following through with each step.
The entire NPR post, which is chock full of helpful information, will be a useful teaching tool for anyone who wants to gauge a news item’s authenticity, and the six basic steps are easy to master. Post the list near computers, on the refrigerator, and in rooms where family members use digital devices and on digital devices’ note pads.
It happens to me all the time on social media. I see something interesting that connects with what I like or want to believe, start to read it, and then I immediately start to share it with my friends. I’m learning, however, to think more about it first. Now I’m spending more time considering whether what I see and read comes from a reputable news source or if some of the details in the article can survive a fact check.
Our traditional expectations for civility and ethical behavior are cracking apart right before our eyes.
On the basis of what’s happened at recent political conventions and the beginning of the election season, young people will be witnessing name-calling, stereotyping, hateful comments, online hate, and in some cases veiled bodily threats. Kids will hear things on TV at home and on the televisions that are broadcasting in lounges, waiting rooms, doctor’s offices, and everywhere else. They will hear radios broadcasting the news at home and in other peoples’ homes. And, of course, there’s social media.
A few days ago at the public library, I overheard two teachers talking excitedly about a curriculum unit that they were developing. As the discussion progressed, they also began noting their frustration with the cavalier attitudes students demonstrate toward online resources. I was not surprised by the conversation.
Young people who are growing up today seem to navigate effortlessly through digital materials—learning resources, games, publications, websites, and apps—but we adults often forget their limited fluency when it comes to identifying the quality, reliability, and credibility of information. If they are to become good evaluators kids need lots of practice and plenty of time spent observing adult models.