A Brilliant Start on How To Teach Real/Fake News Literacy

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A Brilliant Start on How To Teach Real/Fake News Literacy

Many of us have been struggling over how to teach our students, and ourselves, about a new world of widespread fake news. I have argued that the skills of filtering real and fake news must become a large element of what we call “literacy”, every bit as important, and perhaps more so, than our traditional knowledge of Hemingway or Hugo.

An ex-student of mine, Vanessa Otero, now a well-respected attorney in the Denver area, took up this challenge, created a matrix by which to plot news sources, and has published her thinking behind the graphic, which has been viewed more than 3 million times in the last few weeks:


At first blush one might think that the news sources are based on Vanessa’s subjective opinion; that would be wrong. In her blog post she outlines an entire sequence of filters that govern these placements. It is still one person’s thinking, but it is the first prototype of what could become a sophisticated “taxonomy of news”.

How can you use this work in school?  The power of this work is not in the relative placement of each news organization; we would all argue some of those placements…and that IS the point.  If I were running a school, I would require that all students, in some  humanities class, have the opportunity to engage in this discussion. The unit would start with a blank canvas, just the categories on both axes, and a discussion of what those categories mean. Then teams of students would research news sources, place those sources, and defend those placements, leading a discussion, not a debate, amongst their classmates.

If you are interested in more, connect with Vanessa; she is the kind of creative thinker with whom you want your teachers and students to partner in this new age of fast-moving learning targets!

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