Your May Issue: Everything You Need for Teaching Fake News!

By
Kim Tranell

Dear Teachers,

The headline in my Facebook feed made my heart race: Could Nutella (which I regularly smear on banana slices to satisfy my sweet tooth) really cause cancer? The claim, under closer examination, turned out to be false, but the intense flash of panic it gave me was very real. Fake health news is everywhere—and it’s just one piece of a dangerous online epidemic.

That’s why I absolutely adore this month’s cover story, a fascinating non-fiction feature on the insidious forces that are driving fake news. It has everything you need—rich cultural context, ripped-from-the-internet examples, and easy, actionable digital literacy advice—to help your students think critically about the information they consume.

Let me walk you through it's wonderful resources—and some other highlights from the May issue of Choices!

 

1. WHICH ONE IS #FAKE NEWS?

 

 

You've already heard me rave about our amazing non-fiction piece—I'm positive your students will dig right in, no prodding needed—but I also highly recommend projecting our Fake News Game slideshow on your whiteboard as an interactive bell ringer. (Bonus: The online text of this story is annotated with key definitions and carefully designed self-reflection questions, which will encourage your students to think critically about their own media diet.)

 

 

2. DON'T GET BURNED!

 

 

Did you know that just one blistering sunburn can double your chances of developing melanoma later in life? We hope this shocking stat from our summer sun survival guide—plus the powerful warnings of three teen skin-cancer survivors—will empower your students to take sun safety seriously this year. Follow it up with a wonderful worksheet that will help students make skin checks a part of their regular routine. (Special thanks to the Skin Cancer Foundation for their help here!)

 

 

 

3. ARE YOU FOLLOWING THE HERD?

 

 

Between you and me: We always struggle—as I'm sure you can understand—when attempting to tackle the tricky topic of peer pressure. There is a very fine line between helpful and preachy. But I am incredibly pleased with the way our short non-fiction piece on "herd mentality" came out! I have no doubt that your students will be eager to talk about the ways that group think and social contagion permeate everything from their closest friendships to their school community. And the coolest part? We have a super-smart extention activity (find it on page T6 of the May Teacher's Guide) that will allow your class to do its own field research on herd mentality. Can they get a trend to spread throughout their school?

 

 

Please do email me if you try this experiment—I'm dying to know how it turned out and what your students learned!  I'd also love to hear from any teachers who have story ideas for next school year, so send me your tips: hot topics at your school, amazing real teens in your community, and issues you're struggling to teach.

 

Warmly,

Kim

 

MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE MAY 2017 ISSUE OF CHOICES:

 

 Is It OK to Buy Cheap Clothes?Cheap clothes may seem like a great way for teens to stick to a tight budget, but there's more to the story. Clothing factories in countries like Bangladesh pay employees small wages and often have dangerous working conditions, but at the same time, these factories may help sustain the country's economy and employment rate. Have teens engage in a classroom discussion on this issue. 

 

 The Summer of Change: Summer is approaching! This story will inspire teens to engage in giving back this summer. If they need more ideas, be sure to check out our post on 15 volunteer ideas for teens!

 

 How Can I . . .  Make a Tough Decision?Making a decision is not an easy task, especially when it comes to deciding between options that are equally good. Use expert advice to teach teens to weigh their options and make decisions. Don't forget to download this free poster to remind students of a key principle of making a tough choice. 

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