News and Social Media Literacy for Students

After a recent fake news presentation at a middle school career day, the students wanted more fake news examples. They loved trying to figure out what was fake and why!
After a recent fake news presentation at a middle school career day, the students wanted more examples. They loved trying to figure out what was fake and why!

This discussion- and activity-based news and social media literacy workshop is aimed to help tweens and teens learn to analyze and discern the purpose and truthfulness of what they see and hear on the news or on social media. These are not the skills or tools your school librarians are teaching.

The workshop can be divided into two faster sessions with less hands-on practice or taught as a deep-dive over several weeks. It is a multi-media class where students will work with legacy media and use computers to examine online news and social media.

The workshop is non-partisan. The workshop can be tailored by students’ ages and time constraints.

Students will learn:

  • To define misinformation and disinformation, the forms it can take, the motivation for it, the history of it and why it is so prevalent now in our society.
  • To identify types of media and develop a vocabulary to discuss media terms.
  • To understand the development of Deepfake and Cheapfake video, to think critically about AI apps such as Zao and TikTok and to examine privacy issues.
  • To identify reliable sources for news and sources within the stories.
  • To analyze and think critically about the messages within the media and their purpose.
  • The hallmarks of real news and fake news.
  • How to search more efficiently online and have a basic understanding of search engine algorithms.
  • How to fact check like a news researcher.
  • How to identify media bias within news sites and in stories.
  • How to reverse search for memes and images that may have been altered or misrepresented.

The students will examine headlines, news stories, photos, memes, social posts and decide if they are real or fake. They will develop their computer skills to track down sources, evaluate websites and corroborate information with other sources. Through games like “Solid vs Sketchy,” they will decide is this a source they trust.

Students will learn how social media affected the 2016 election and what social media companies and the government are planning for the 2020 election.

By the end of the workshop, students will be much more cognizant of the news and social media messages in their lives and will have critical thinking and digital skills to properly evaluate them.