Truth or Fiction? would be a good fit for journalism, ELA, or social studies classes. Teachers can use it to demonstrate the process of fact-checking and critical thinking about articles, memes, and social media posts. After a teacher-led introduction and some time for exploration, task students with locating a popular post or news story they're curious about on Truth or Fiction?. Have them dig into the fact-check, and follow the process of teasing apart the story's veracity. Afterward, student's can perform a live walkthrough of Truth or Fiction?'s fact-check, visiting external sources and showing the comparison between credible information and what's presented in the original story or post. After students get familiar with the process, challenge them to catalog any questionable stories or posts they come across in the wild, and then have them record a video walkthrough of their own fact-checking process, making sure to think out loud as they go.
Truth or Fiction? is particularly useful for more self-directed students. Though it's organized by the tabs "Fact Checks," "Fake News," "Politics," "Viral Content," "Analysis," and "Reporting," many of the articles overlap and appear in more than one tab, so there is no wrong way to engage. Teachers could assign independent work, focusing on a specific kind of story -- perhaps politics -- and then ask students to track patterns of misinformation and propaganda techniques within that category. After they've looked at a couple of different types of stories, students can compare and contrast the ways mis/disinformation is employed.Continue reading Show less
Truth or Fiction? is a non-partisan site staffed by a team of journalists (and one former editor of Snopes) dedicated to debunking information filling our inboxes and social media feeds. There's a a useful focus -- as opposed to some competitors -- on viral content like opinionated news and inspirational, humorous, and shocking stories. The stories are timely, ranging from the political (e.g., Chuck Schumer's presumed history of being in favor of a border wall) to cultural (e.g., whether Ariana Grande's tattoo really does translate to "charcoal grill"), and they're supported by a thorough contextualization and verification or debunking of the story. Each fact-check includes three sections: Claim, Rating, and Reporting. Of these, the Reporting section offers the most opportunities for learning, including key terms, historical references, and related sources.
With its extensive reporting and analysis of the stories we so freely circulate, Truth or Fiction? clearly answers the oft-asked student question "But why does this matter?" No one likes to be duped, students especially, and one quick click on any tab or headline will show students how easily facts are manipulated. For instance, a recent entry traces a popular Facebook post from after the 2019 State of the Union address showing an image of German women dressed in white and giving the Nazi salute with the caption "The League of Nazi Socialist women who supported Hitler's dream of a socialist paradise. They always went to public events dressed in white." The post was meant to draw a connection to Nancy Pelosi's State of the Union attire: a white suit. The hyperlink-heavy and graphics-rich analysis that follows traces the origin of the image and concludes that the women in the photo were a group of Nazi sympathizers, though not under that name and with no connection to socialism. Furthermore, Pelosi was wearing white in honor of the women's suffrage movement. By following along with this fact-check, students learn how viral content and misinformation misappropriates history, makes false associations, and forwards a biased agenda. The associated links to credible information help students become familiar with where to find more trustworthy info they can rely upon in their daily lives. Along the way, they might also get inspired to look into some of the references -- like the women's suffrage movement -- that will expand their knowledge base.
Still, teachers need to be aware that this site wasn't designed for classrooms. There are no lesson plans or activities, it's full of links to social media, and it's lacking supports for students of differing abilities. And yet, this remains a useful site to add to a broader list of fact-checking resources, and with some scaffolding and teacher guidance, students can gain some key critical thinking skills.
Key Standards Supported
Reading Informational Text
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.
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.
Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
Analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (e.g., Washington’s Farewell Address, the Gettysburg Address, Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech, King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”), including how they address related themes and concepts.
By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 9–10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.
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.
By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 11–CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
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