Depending on the course or learning objective, teachers can create assignments that require students to explore the site in a targeted, intentional way. The Obama-Meter provides an evaluation of President Obama’s presidency that can inform students’ opinions on the success of his presidency; kids can use this tool as a starting point for exploring the relationship between what candidates promise in a campaign and what they ultimately deliver in office. Kids can discuss what those differences are and why they might exist. Students can search a specific issue, learn what candidates are saying about it, and discover whether their statements are true or false. As an extension activity, teachers may want students to watch the news and conduct research to rate the accuracy of what they hear. The site can be especially useful during an election cycle to help students determine which candidate to support; it offers an at-a-glance look at the overall truthfulness of all candidates, and some might find it extremely helpful.Continue reading Show less
Politifact is a tool that helps people find out who's telling the truth in American politics. The site is run by the Tampa Bay Times, an independent newspaper, and it fact-checks statements made by elected officials, candidates, and pundits. The content is updated daily, and each fact-check is rated from True to Pants on Fire. Info text on the site explains the ratings, and there are links to relevant sources that support each rating. The site also tracks campaign promises made by President Obama and other elected officials, and identifies politicians who have flipped on a variety of issues. Users can search politicians' stances by issue, by rating, or by people. Along with the ratings, there are timely articles that cover key political topics both domestic and abroad.
Politifact can play an important role in encouraging students to question statements made by people in positions of power and influence. The site can be a good fit for a government course or for any course exploring current events. The Truth-O-Meter ratings should pique student interest and (hopefully) increase buy-in as kids explore particular critical issues and the political process in general. The site's methodology for evaluating political statements and campaign promises can act as a model for students to conduct their own research on what they hear or read in the media. Overall, the content on the site is written for adult consumption, and students will need teacher direction to provide context and help them hone their own lie-detection skills.
Key Standards Supported
Reading Informational Text
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).
Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).
Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.
Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness or beauty of the text.
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