Fake news – a lesson plan

Fake news, post-truth, and alternative facts are three buzz terms that seem to sum up this strange time we live in. It’s something that fascinates me, and as a language teacher I feel that I’m in a position where I can not only discuss this with my students of all ages, but also help them to become more critical in how they interact with the news that comes their way.

This is essentially what I will be arguing in my plenary talk at the BrazTESOL Goiania and BrazTESOL Teacher Development SIG Day in Goiania, Brazil today. It will be the first time I’ve done this talk and I hope it will be the first of many! In order to support the talk I have prepared a lesson plan to be used with teen and adult students, as well as many of the resources and articles I mention in the talk.

The lesson is designed to introduce students to the notion of fake news and teach them some strategies to become better, more critical readers. It is adapted from a lesson plan by the Anti-Defamation League  (link) with elements taken from here.

Fake news – lesson plan

Fake news – lesson powerpoint

Note: I haven’t included any explicit language activities as the plan is designed to be used with a variety of ages and levels. I think there are numerous opportunities to include language points in the lesson depending on the needs of your learners. My suggestions are introducing relevant news and internet related vocabulary at the beginning; functional language to discuss advantages and disadvantages (before slide 4); more specific lexis related to websites (links, hyperlinks, gifs, menus etc) (before slide 6); any interesting or difficult vocabulary that emerges from the video, or you think needs to be pre-taught for lower levels.

Useful links

Teaching Resources

ET Professional article with plenty of links and resources for teachers
My lesson plan for brelt using a fake news story
Global Digital Citizen Foundation
IFLA “How to spot fake news” infographic
Project Look Sharp
Help Save The Endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus
Scott Bedley on teaching his students to become fact-checkers

Resources for lesson activities

Uberfacts Twitter page
Some examples of April Fool’s pranks
Newsela – reliable news stories for young people
The Onion – satirical fake news

Reports

Evaluating information: the cornerstone of civic online reasoning (An executive summary by Stanford History Education Group)
News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016 (by Pew Research Center)

Fact Checkers

Snopes
Factcheck.org
Politifact (US Politics)
The Washington Post Fact Checker (US politics)

Post Truth and Fake News

Oxford Word of the Year
Yellow News
The quality of news in Brazil
Fake news in Brazil
Teach fake news says OECD
Wikipedia on the Daily Mail
Snopes on the Fukushima Daisies
Facebook on fake news

I will attempt to keep this list up to date. If you would like to recommend a resource or let me know that a link is broken, leave a comment below.

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6 thoughts on “Fake news – a lesson plan

    • Well, I wouldn’t describe them as left wing, as I think facts are apolitical, but I posted these fact-checkers as these are the only reliable ones I am aware of. If you have some others you think I have missed, feel free to send them over.

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