Help! I am illiterate in fake news…

I think I get the majority of my information from colleges and friends. We will have discussions about news stories, or send each other news links, but other than that, I get my news from social media. It’s not a “better” social media site like Twitter; it is usually Facebook or Instagram. I tried to replace it with different news apps, but quickly found myself not using them. The only excuse I have is laziness.

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All day I take information in. I know that I am constantly processing something whether it be planning an event, thinking about a new assignment, evaluating the credibility of my student’s work or the numerous social media pages I look at. Although this information is going into my brain, and I am thinking about it, I do not know how much I am processing or understanding.

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When I think about my  personal strategies for analyzing and validating information (e.g. fake news or other information)… I can’t think of one! I rely on myself and my hunches, which is not good! Last week, when we spoke about fake news being emotional, I thought about how I would totally read those types of stories. I always question whether or not they are real depending on the grammar, and the appearance of the article or website, but I don’t really go beyond this. The only defense I have is that I try not to share something if I don’t know if it is true. I don’t want to spread misinformation and I do not want to offend anyone.

I know that this is an important topic for my students. I know they are flooded with fake news daily. I know that if I don’t teach them, no one will. I was appreciative that in class there were many sites shared that could help me determine whether something was fake like factscan.ca, canadafactcheck.ca and factcheck.org.

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I feel like this topic is something that I need to include into my major project. It wasn’t something I originally planned,  but media literacy is very important. In today’s world, being critical of media is even more important. I am actually excited about planning this resource. I feel like it is something that is useful for my students, and I can make it relevant to their interests in auto.

I don’t have a lot of insight for you guy this week. I do not have any strategies and it is definitely something I need to work on. I guess the question I have left for myself this week is: If I don’t have any strategies to determine whether something is credible, how can my students? 

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wut does it mean 2 b literate?

I used to think that being literate only meant being able to read and write. As I learn more about literacy, I am starting to realize that it is really about understanding different types of information. For instance, when we think about fake news, the idea of fully understanding how to interpret what is fake news is a literacy. More and more, it is becoming important for people to understand the information available to us.

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In the article The Grim Conclusions of the Largest-Ever Study of Fake News: they explain that “It seems to be pretty clear [from our study] that false information outperforms true information. . .  “And that is not just because of bots. It might have something to do with human nature.” Carter video also touches on this. He mentioned that fake news is shared more because it evokes more emotion. I thought this was very interesting. I think that the majority of information shared on my Facebook feed are posts that make people mad, sad, frustrated or happy. It is not very often that you see someone share something that is just everyday news. It is often something that they are passionate about.

In most of the videos this week, they stated that “80% of students cannot id real from fake” when it comes to the news they are reading. They do not know how to distinguish what is real, nor do they check to see if it is real. In the article Fact or Fiction: Fake News and its Impact on Education there are examples of how people have acted out based on fake news such as the Comet Pizza Story.

More than ever, it is important for teachers to take the time to teach students how to determine what is fake so we can prevent incidents like this from happening again. The article claims that recent events have “shed light on the problem that most students are not taught media literacy in current curriculums,” I really appreciated that this article gave tips to help teachers teach about media literacy such as: incorporate news-related key terms into the curriculum like credibility and bias, discussing news, and providing different types of news so students can distinguish between the two.

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Another good resource we were given was the video The Problem with Fake News (and how our students can solve it) they give us a five C’s of critical consuming: context, credibility, construction, corroboration,  and compare. I feel like students should watch this video and then students should use this with an article of their choice!

Based on this week’s readings, I would say a large part of being literate is understanding information. It is important to understand what information we are taking in and interpret that information, how to properly use the web, what to post, and what to share. Most importantly, it is important to understand what fake news is. It should not be a teacher’s job alone though. Everyone should ban together to understand this new form of literacy including teachers, parents, communities and social media sites.

 

Digital Literacy: understanding a teacher’s role

This week I spent a lot of time thinking about digital literacy and my identity online as a professional.

In the article Digital Literacy: What does it mean to you The article describes how “in order for students to be digitally literate, they not only need to learn how to use technology, but to be critical of the information they gather. Students are exposed to information digitally—articles, statistics, videos. They require explicit instruction that information might be old, biased, fake, illegal, or discriminatory.” I think it is common to think that students understand these concepts naturally. That they are exposed to these images daily, and therefore they should just know how to decode them, but this is not true.


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In the article Media Literacy: A National Priority for a Changing World, they explain that “If our children are to be able to navigate their lives through this multi-media culture, they need to be fluent in “reading” and “writing” the language of images and sounds just as we have always taught them to “read” and “write” the language of printed communications. Just because students are exposed to books, does not mean they know how to read.” Taking that further, we need to teach students to think critically about the texts they are reading in class. We need to tell them to dig deeper and understand the bigger idea and picture. These skills were taught and it is necessary for teachers to provide these students with these skills.

I think that students are lacking skills in digital literacy, but they are also lacking basic reading and writing skills.

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It is a common discussion among people that students are not prepared for real life, or university, and the authors in this article backed up these discussions. They say that “Their research indicates that high school students are poorly prepared for college and the job market, and that employers and post-secondary institutions “all but ignore the diploma, knowing that it often serves as little more than a certificate of attendance,” because “what it takes to earn one is disconnected from what it takes for graduates to compete successfully beyond high school.”

To be honest, this made me a little worried about our school systems. I know that these dis

cussions happen, but the fact that they think the job I do in my classroom is somehow not credible is concerning. I know that many teachers feel that students need to be held more accountable, but when we are held down by the rules, what do we do as professionals? Are we really preparing students for the world, and if not, how can we?

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The article also provides “Five Key Questions [that] provide a “short-cut” and an on-ramp to acquiring and applying information process skills in a practical, replicable, consistent and attainable way”

These questions are:

Key Question #1: Who created this message?

Key Question #2: What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

Key Question #3: How might different people understand this message differently from me?

Key Question #4: What lifestyles, values and points of view are represented in — or omitted from — this message?

Key Question #5: Why is this message being sent?

I think these are great questions to ask your students. By using these in our classroom, we can begin teaching our students to be deeper thinkers about the information they are taking in.

I think I need to do a better job of making my students think critically about the information they see online.  I need to stop just preaching information and teach them how to think beyond the information, to dissect it, and understand how to interpret what they are seeing.  As Dani and Staci both mention in their videos this week: digital literacy is important because it helps us make decisions… and I think we can all agree that is one thing that students need help with!

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This week Patrick Maze spoke to our class about our online identities… and to be honest, at the beginning of the class I was not really happy about what he was saying. I am very careful about what I post online. I was particularly annoyed that he told me it could be seen as unprofessional to post a picture of me holding a drink. I don’t know why this bothered me, but I felt like something so simple shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Patrick suggested we ask ourselves if we really needed to share a picture, story, or comment online, but I always ask myself this. I never want my students, parents of students, or colleagues to think differently of me, but I also think that I have a pretty open mind and would never actually do this.

But, as Patrick went on I realized he made a lot of great points. He said that teachers are always in the spotlight, that we need to ensure that we have the public’s confidence to teach their youth, that we are held to a higher standard and need to be careful of what we put online.

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All of these points made a lot of sense to me. When I have this conversation with other people, they often do not understand why holding a drink is such a big deal, but I do. I know why I became a teacher. I know that it is important to have the respect of the community… and I want to have that.

I am not so keen on having my life censored, but I know that I think teaching is more important to me. We can still have an opinion, and I think we can express these opinions in our classroom, but we need to do it safely. We need to ensure we talk about all sides and include everyone. I think this applies a lot to digital literacy. Not only is it important to have an understanding of how to decode and interpret messages, but also an understanding that as teachers, what we write, and post online hold messages about who we are as people.

 

I created a digital identity without realizing it…

My digital identity started in grade 12. My parents had left for Mexico and I wanted to invite my classmates to my birthday party. The easiest way to do this: Facebook.

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For months I had sworn I would not get Facebook. I did not need it, and thought it was weird to have a page dedicated to myself; it seemed rather vain. Nonetheless, it was the easiest way to invite as many people to my party, so I signed up.

When I look back on my posts, it is a string of updates on what I was doing (like cleaning my house???), pictures of me with my friends (selfies), and posting about the exciting things I was doing. Although some of them are great memories, some of them make me cringe.

At the time, I didn’t even know I was creating my digital identity, now it is too late to change it, and honestly, as each year goes on, I add more and more to my digital identity.

As I got older, I joined other social media sites including Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. I love each one of these sites, but each time the idea of a new one came around it was met with resistance. I didn’t like giving myself to another social media app, but as more of my friends were on them I felt like I was missing out.

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Of all the social media apps I have, I think Instagram and Snapchat are my favourites. Why? Because they are the apps where people share the least personal information about themselves. I do not like the negativity or oversharing Facebook holds. I like that Instagram and Snapchat are usually only photos. You can scroll through easily and it is less stressful. I have been told many times that I would enjoy Twitter the most, but I need to get into it more. I like factual information, and I think Twitter can provide that. I can also mix in some comedy, but again, I tend to be resistant towards new apps, so I will need to take the time to become more familiar with Twitter.

In university we were warned quickly about our online profiles. I do not believe they were preaching words like digital citizenship, or identity, but it was the first time I had thought about my online profile. I went through posts and pictures and deleted anything that would look bad. I would warn my friends on what to post of me. I was going to be a teacher and I did not want anything out there that would jeopardize my position. I have always made sure my privacy settings are the most private they can be, and I review posts before allowing others to see them. I think I was taught about digital identity using scare tactics, and to be honest, it is hard sometimes not to use them with my own students. They are very back and white and I like to tell them how they can be affected  by what they put online.

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I think I am a pretty safe internet user. I think that I know the most about digital identity right now. Especially after taking this class. I not only understand the concept more clearly, but understand the importance of teaching digital identity and citizenship. As Jennifer Scheffer says, “Digital citizenship is not just about teaching students what not to do, but also what they should be doing, to create a positive online impression.” We need to have our students think about it as a tattoo rather than a footprint. I love this analogy, and I think it is something my students will understand. The resources we have gained access to from Alec, and from our peers are beyond useful and I know I will use them in my future, and my classroom. The Digital Citizenship Education
in Saskatchewan Schools package is a great resource teachers should be aware of. I love the posters and the continuum. I feel like all teachers should use this. We need to follow the continuum and teach the correct information which I find to be grade appropriate. I know that I will focus on the topics outlined for my grade 11 and 12 students because the are relevant to their lives and futures.

 

Week one: blogging blues and successes

As part of my project I decided I would implement blogging into my class. I wanted to use a platform like WordPress for a few reasons:  Most of my students dislike technology, so I wanted them to become more familiar with technology. I wanted my students to display their course work on their blog in order to improve their typing skills and work on their spelling and grammar. I also wanted my students to create a weekly blog based on their employability for the semester. And I wanted it to act as a portfolio for them to demonstrate jobs they have learned in the shop for a future employer. All of these lessons would support the ELA curriculum, promote digital literacy, but I also needed to include a unit on Digital Citizenship.

To say I receive backlash from the blogging assignment is an understatement. I find some students are flourishing, while others are doing pretty well, and some are shutting down. Others will complete the tasks well, and properly, but will complain the entire time.

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I would just like to say that this Giphy may reflect how I felt, BUT I DID NOT ACT ON IT!

Last week, as part of my project with Anne Wells, I started a discussion with my classes about Digital Citizenship. We brainstormed what they thought it was, and what role schools should play in teaching Digital Citizenship. Some students were very educated, while others had no idea what the term meant.

I was surprised with their answers, and decided to use this as a basis for our first lesson. I developed a short survey based on their technology use, and some of their complaints.

I am even finding that some of my students who use their cell phone the most in my class, complain the most about the blogging assignments. I also wanted to see how much they knew about digital literacy, or where they fell along lines of cell phone use in class, and posting/commenting online (digital health). You can see my survey here. My intention will be to give the students the same survey at the end of the semester and see where they fall.

We then talked about the survey in detail. My students had useful comments and healthy discussions about internet use. They also talked about sharing stories before checking facts, and posting rude, or inappropriate comments. We related back to our class, and how all of those topics could affect their future employment and lives, but also understanding the psychological impacts.

Using the articles from class, and online aids, I created a handout where we discussed, what I though were the most important aspects of Digital Citizenship. I included the 9 elements, and we discussed them as a class, but I also used the graphic organizers.Teaching ongoing and authentic digital citizenship through blogging | Edublogs

We focused a lot on the definition of Digital Citizenship, but also the idea of digital health, netiquette, digital footprints and copyright. Similar to the article The persona, the false self, and the social network: who are you on Facebook, my students spoke about having profiles that did not relate to who they really were, and only showing their peers what they wanted to see, or having multiple profiles like in the article Having Multiple online identities is more normal than you think. I also had the students blog about our discussion. The students looked at the various topics we talked about. The assignment read:

We have talked about Digital Citizenship a lot. We discussed what it was, what role schools should play, why it was important, and how we can be mindful of our own digital citizenship. Based on our discussion, write a blog post describing the questions above. Use the handout we discussed combined with the 9 elements and your own thoughts. You must reference the handout/ elements at least 3 times. Remember: have personality, pictures, memes, and Giphy. You must proof read your post before publishing.

I received some good posts and connections:

 

We also had our first round of blogging for employability. I believe my students need to put more effort into their explanation of the week, but that comes with time and expectations.

We have just began our unit on digital citizenship, and overall I feel like my students understand the importance of the topic. I think they understand the benefits of being digitally literate, how they can make a positive or impact on the world, and how it will pay off in the future.  I just can’t wait for the complaining to end!

 

Preparing students for a world they own

If we are aware that people are shaped by cultural events and the advances in our modern world, then why do we judge the next generation so harshly? We think that the way we lived is the right way, and it is the best way to experience life, but the fact is: those days are over.

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Change happens over time. We look back and are happy about how far we have come, but it is almost like we live through these changes without thinking about how it will affect the next generation. It isn’t until we see the effects that we begin to question our practices… should our societal changes matter in how we educate the youth? I think the answer is yes. 

Educators, bosses, and parents alike complain about the future generation. They say things were handed to them, they are entitled, they do not know how to work, but we teach in a system that promotes this. We allow students to hand in things without deadlines, push them along, and tell them it will be okay in the end, heck, we make it so it is okay in the end. But we need to stop complaining, and start teaching these students how to be more independent… but the answer is not going back in time and teaching students the way we were taught. We need to consider the world around them and make it a safe, and happy place for them to succeed.

Schools need to adapt to the world around them. I am fortunate enough to work in a school that allows me to teach interest based education. My students are interested, come almost everyday and tend to work harder on assignments because they enjoy what they are learning… but all education needs to be like this.


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A large part of this change needs to include technology. As educators and parents we need to educate the youth to critically think. It is easy to Google an answer, but we need to be able to understand how to get there, and what do do after. In the article Digital Citizenship: The Critical Call to Educate and Prepare 21st- Century Learners they talk about using technology to improve the lives of our students. We need to learn how to “leverage technology for the best possible outcomes.” As the job markets change we need to prepare our students. The article goes on to explain that in the future”3 million jobs will be vacant due to lack of required skills and technological exposure.” Just because educators are not comfortable using technology, does not mean we do not have to change for the benefit of our students and prepare them for their futures.

When we teach our students the skills to use technology, we must not forget about their well being.  Educators need to teach students how to communicate properly within their online communities, and how to use the internet safely.  Digital Citizenship is such an important aspect for students to understand. It goes beyond just bullying. Students need to understand the Nine Themes to Digital Citizenship including Literacy and Etiquette, and as the article (Digital) identity in a World that No Longer Forgets points out, we need to ensure that students understand that their context/audience, authorship and their empathy matter while they are online.

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In my classroom alone I see a need to teach Digital Citizenship. My students use email addresses like buttmonkey69. I see their inappropriate Snapchat’s on our school’s geo-filters, hear about the videos they make and the comments they write under their friends posts. THEY CANNOT PROBLEM SOLVE. If we continue to ignore these problems and chalk them up to kids being kids, it will be too late. The internet is forever and their online identity could harm them in the future.

As educators, we need to recognize that students need to be taught these lessons in school. We need to prepare our students to get jobs, to be good people and most importantly, prepare them for their world. I like the idea of using  tools like the Nine Themes and Graphic Organizers like in The Definition of Digital Citizenship They allow learning to be fun and easy for our students instead of scolding them for their behaviors.

We need to take this to their level, and make sure they really understand the importance of Digital Citizenship. I think education is what you make it, and we need to make it beneficial for students.

Does Technology Hurt or Help?

In the article Do “Digital Natives” Exist? The first thing that came to mind was my parents! In the video they explain that Digital Natives are pretty much anyone born after 1980, making those born before Digital Immigrants. Digital Natives grew up with technology, our brains adapted to the new information, and therefore it is easier for us to use new forms of technology. When Digital Immigrants use technology it is essentially like learning a new language, and this explanation pretty much blew my mind.

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I know that I am very impatient when it comes to teaching my parents about technology. I think that they have owned enough forms of it that they should be better at it, but that’s not true. They are going to take longer to learn how to use it properly, every time. I also think it is important to acknowledge that not everyone born before 1980 would label themselves a Digital Immigrant because the more you use technology the better you will be at using it. As the old saying goes: practice makes perfect.

Another interesting video was Visitors and Residents. In the video David White explains the visitor and resident continuum.

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Visitor                                                            Resident

The idea that everyone uses technology, but the capacity in which we use it determines whether we are a “visitor” someone who uses technology, but can also leave it, and a “Resident” a user whose identity is linked to technology. They posts, comment, and use technology constantly.  I like the fact that we can all place ourselves on the spectrum. I would say that I am somewhat in the middle. I use technology quite often, but I know when to turn it off… which leads right to an article I read The IRL Fetish  I am guilty of complaining that my friends and family are on their phones too much. That we need to be better listeners, and communicators.

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It is so important to remember to put down our phones, be with each other, and enjoy talking to our loved ones about their lives. I think we can all agree that it is very comforting to know that someone is paying attention to you and cares for you. I think we can also agree that is it nice when you can be in a social setting, have fun together, and laugh without having to worry about who is Snapping it.

I also have to admit that I am very guilty of many of the examples in this article. I have to check my phone if I am waiting in any kind of line, my friends play the game where we put our phones in the middle, and the first one to crack buys shots, I boast about not being on Facebook as much as others. And earlier this week I was out with my Grandma, and found myself looking at my phone more than I should have. The fact that I felt disconnected, bored and anxious, as the article points out, is somewhat embarrassing, and I feel bad.

I think I struggle between the idea that human connection is what life is about, and adapting to the world of technology. I know that technology is a new form of intelligence and that it is not necessarily bad, just different. More and more I am understanding that it is important to recognize who we are online, and how we integrate technology into our lives. Most importantly, we need to make sure our students are aware.