Why literacy skills are critical in a fake news world…

Me: Oh my goodness did you hear about…?

Hubby: Are you serious? That’s not real.

Me: Are you sure? It’s all over the internet.

Hubby: (eyes rolling, head shaking) You can’t trust everything you see and read on social media babe.

This has been my life with my hubby and sister for the past few years. They are critical thinkers and in the know about current affairs. They do their research (and quite frankly spend more time on their devices than me). I am so focused and busy on my own life, my responsibilities, job, kids, coaching, my next meal, that I don’t spend time doing the work it takes to actually use my critical thinking skills and determine if what I am hearing, seeing, reading is in fact real. I reluctantly admit to sharing propaganda, fabricated stories, and jumping on bandwagon’s because I am easily influenced, if the details seem good enough, and who can resist some good satire and parody from late night talk shows and SNL?

In any case, as an educator and parent, I need to get my s%*- together and be a better role model. In another digital citizenship lesson with my grade 10’s this past week we revisited the THINK motto and used tips from Fighting Fake News in the classroom when considering the authenticity of a post and of course sharing that post. Students admitted to both posting and sharing when their emotions are high, they never do a reverse image search, and typically accept the first source they find. Most of them are hearing these tips for the first time and they are 15 years old!

Teaching students to be literate with media is absolutely critical especially since most of them, all my students, get their news from social media and accept whatever comes through their feed as accurate and truthful. The article Chris shared summarizes that “we must teach all of our citizens how to be researchers and scientists when it comes to consuming information“(Leetaru, 2019). All versions of literacy (digital, media, physical, mathematics) require the “ability to identify, interpret, understand and communicate” as per Bart’s article, and critical thinking skills are…well…CRITICAL to the process!

I appreciated Ms Mihial’s SPEA share about not being fully literate without being physically literate!! I teach wellness and PE and work everyday with my students to identify performance cues for skills and movements, develop those skills, find motivation to use those skills, understand why we use those skills, put them to practice to gain confidence and competence, and

Photo: ‘Home’ Movetohealthychoices.ca

recognize that we all use them in different ways. I used the same ideas for media literacy in my lesson- identify the types of fake news we are exposed to daily, what are the facts, check the sources, check for bias and motive.

In our fast paced, information disordered world, we simply don’t make the time to evaluate the information. We must teach our students to do their due diligence, and we must do the same as leaders, so we can all be effective and productive learners and citizens in the 21st century.


7 thoughts on “Why literacy skills are critical in a fake news world…

  1. Hi Cymone! I thought of you when I wrote about being physically literate. I sometimes still hear Nick Forsberg in the back of my brain when it comes to physical literacy, movement and relationships. The Phys. Ed world is so incredibly important when it comes to literacy and being a well-rounded individual. Our bodies and brains work together symbiotically and we can’t ignore that!


  2. I love that you are willing to share that you have been caught by the fake news trap before! It does take time to do the fact checking, which is why I think it often doesn’t get done. Sounds like you are getting your $h*% together now though and sharing some good skills with your students!


  3. I enjoyed reading your blog. I have seen a lot of “fake news” or even scams online. I don’t believe a lot of what I see online. I often hear that pun “if if its on the internet it must be true.” this class has opened a new view of what I read and see on the internet. I am often worried about some older people or even my son, autistic reads on the internet. I have become more aware of what it means to be an online citizen. Great blog


  4. I admit that I was also kind of cringing at things in the past that I might have believed that aren’t true, Cymone! The learning about fake news and critically viewing online content has been very powerful for me! It makes me wonder why I am just learning this NOW, and really highlights the importance of teaching kids these skills when they are younger.


  5. Omg, I love the opening of your blog post. So many times I have read something online and been like OMG really? And then tried to look more into it and realized that it was wrong… like really wrong. What a world we live in nowadays. I mean, I am thinking that biased information and such has always been a thing, but now with the internet, you have to always check into it. You can no longer take anything at face value, or so it seems.


  6. Thanks for the comments team. I am never shy to admit when I have lots to learn and throughout this term everything I’ve been reading from class has gone directly to my students and even my kids. We are all learning to be more critical thinkers, consumers, sharers! Big changes are coming I think…I hope…


  7. Thanks for the honesty and authenticity. No doubt this is helping the effectiveness of your teaching and learning with your students. Students appreciate when they can identify with their teacher. It’s okay for them to know that we don’t know everything as teachers. I also appreciate that I know you well enough that I can picture you pumping up some fake news story haha!


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