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How do you respond to disinformation at home or school?

October 16, 2023 | 1 comment

Debunking Disinformation: 5 Ways to Respond

Learn about ways you can respond to disinformation in your classroom and at home in a meaningful, constructive and inclusive way.


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Responding to mis- and disinformation in the classroom—or at home—can be a real challenge for teachers and parents. AFT’s new Defining Mis- and Disinformation: A Toolkit for Teaching and Instilling Critical Thinking Skills provides case studies, lesson plans, activities and presentation PowerPoints to get your students talking about the reality we’re facing today, which is one where information is abundant yet its authenticity is often questionable. Educators, parents and students alike are grappling with distinguishing fact from fiction.

Disinformation Drivers

In a report from the Rand Corp., the disinformation phenomenon, ubiquitous in U.S. political and civil discourse over the past two decades, is characterized by four interrelated trends:

  • Increasing Disagreement on Facts and Data: A growing divergence in the acceptance of facts and analytical interpretations of data among the public.
  • Blurring Lines Between Opinion and Fact: The distinction between factual information and personal belief is becoming increasingly obscured.
  • Amplification of Opinion over Fact: The volume and influence of personal opinions and experiences are overshadowing hard facts.
  • Declining Trust in Factual Sources: A noticeable reduction in the public’s trust in previously respected sources of factual information.

This in turn is driven by four unique phenomena:

  • Human Cognitive Processing: The inherent cognitive biases in human processing that can sway our understanding and acceptance of information.
  • Changes in the Information System: The evolution of information dissemination through social media and a relentless 24-hour news cycle.
  • Education System Demands: The competing demands on the education system that curtail the emphasis on media literacy and critical thinking.
  • Political and Demographic Polarization: The deepening divides in political and demographic viewpoints and affiliations.

So how can we as educators, parents, siblings and friends constructively engage with the people we care for and those we work with in a constructive, friendly way where everyone feels respected and included? The toolkit offers ways for us to respond to disinformation by answering two questions:

  1. When is it important to respond to disinformation?
  2. Why is it important to engage with people who disagree with you?

In an upcoming Share My Lesson webinar, we will share tools and resources that will help you sensitively and responsibly respond to disinformation in the classroom and at home. But to get your mind moving in advance, consider these ground rules for responding to disinformation that are introduced below, and will be explored further, in the free, for-credit webinar Debunking Disinformation: Empowering Educators with Tools and Strategies.



Let people tell you why they believe what they do. Be sure to let them know you understand their fears or concerns.



When talking to a friend or family member, let them know you understand it can be difficult to trust some sources of information. Ask questions to understand why they believe what they do.

credible sources

Credible Sources

Discuss the difficulty in finding accurate information. Share your own strategies for finding good sources.

no shame

No Shame!

Try to keep the conversation between the two of you. Remember, no one likes to be called out or appear to be wrong in front of a group.

inclusive language

Use Inclusive Language

Make it clear that you see yourself being impacted in the same way. Try to see this as an opportunity to build connections instead of “win” an argument or debate. 

Register Now to Learn More!

If you want to learn more, sign up for the free webinar on Tuesday, Oct. 24. from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. EDT, and share some of your own strategies for responding to disinformation or other non-factual claims in the comments section below! 

Defining Mis- and Disinformation: A New Toolkit for Educators

This free toolkit is based on extensive conversations with educators, parents and experts in mis- and disinformation.


Andy Kratochvil

Andy Kratochvil is an SML team member who loves hiking, scary books, Mexican food, and finding great content for the Share My Lesson community.He studied political science and French at California State University, Fullerton and received his Master’s in International Affairs from American University

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Eric Civault
Eric Civault October 17, 2023, 8:06 pm

This is really a big challenge for parents and teachers so that the students can learn more. This disinformation helps a lot, especially in their presentation.
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