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March 14, 2023

Teaching the Truth: The Urgency of Educating Students on Disinformation

Teaching students about disinformation and media literacy is crucial for their critical thinking and decision-making skills, and they deserve to be able to navigate our shared digital world with confidence and clarity.

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Here’s a question to ask your students: “What was the first outrageous claim you saw online, and how did you react?”

Dis- and misinformation have been used throughout history for a variety of reasons, and have experienced a renaissance over the past decade with the rise of social media and the increasing polarization of the American political landscape. High school students are bombarded with disinformation daily, and teachers are searching for a way to respond within the context of a classroom environment. So how can we as educators and parents help students navigate the complex world of disinformation, fake news, and propaganda to become informed and responsible citizens?

The American Federation of Teachers is sponsoring the creation of a secondary-level resource toolkit to help classroom teachers respond to the growing wave of disinformation that we see online, in the classroom and at home. While the full suite of resources will not be available until this summer, attendees of the 2023 Share My Lesson Virtual Conference have the opportunity to get a one-hour sneak peek.

Flat Earth Thinking

A team of 11 classroom teachers from across the country spent months designing and curating resources for this new toolkit; and two members of the team, veteran educators in U.S. history and English, will be showcasing one of the five case studies from the toolkit: The Proliferation of the Flat Earth Movement.

Did you know?

In a 2021 nationwide survey, approximately 10 percent of participants said they believe the Earth is flat.

During this session, attendees can expect to take away teaching resources they can immediately use in the classroom, as well as strategies and ideas for teaching topics like:

  • Understanding fact versus opinion
  • How visual media can sway perspective
  • Understanding science versus pseudoscience
  • Understanding the differences between disinformation, misinformation and conspiracy theory
     

Students as Critical Consumers

Fighting back against disinformation is more than just being able to read a news article and decide whether it's true—it involves understanding the motives behind media messages, recognizing bias, and identifying the techniques used to persuade us. Teaching students about disinformation and media literacy is crucial for their critical thinking and decision-making skills, and they deserve to be able to navigate our shared digital world with confidence and clarity.

Be sure to register for Flat Earth to Free Societies: Responding to Disinformation in a Changing World among the dozens of noteworthy, free professional learning webinars at this year’s Share My Lesson Virtual Conference. Materials from the full suite will be distributed broadly this summer, but for a taste of what's to come, join us on Tuesday, March 21, at 7 p.m. EDT.

Join Us at Virtual Conference!

Make sure to join us Tuesday, March 21 at 7 p.m. EDT for a free, one-hour professional learning session focused on one of the case studies from the upcoming toolkit.

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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