California Educator

June/July 2022

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nish is time-consuming and inecient, and few read- ers are knowledgeable enough to suss out factual errors. Instead, Wineburg oers a simple, teachable strategy, drawing from what he calls the "virtuosos of the inter- net": professional fact-checkers. Fact-checkers move laterally rather than vertically, opening multiple browser tabs to validate claims and checking who is behind a site before continuing to read the initial page. ey recognize that they're at a disadvan- tage if they stay within a website, so they cross-check information across multiple sites to get a second — or even a third , fourth, and fifth — opinion. It's a modern approach to identifying misinformation online that Wineburg says should be much more commonplace in schools. A different way to navigate the web At the heart of lateral reading is the idea that a single source of information should always be read with a Olloweb/Unsplash A Better Way to Teach Media Literacy "Lateral reading" encourages students to check multiple sources By Youki Terada I N C L A S S R O O M S A C R O S S America, students — digital natives who spend more than seven hours online every day — are struggling to parse fact from ction. In a 2016 study, for example, researchers gave middle school through college-age students 56 tasks — ranging from evaluating the trustworthiness of a source to distinguishing the dierence between a news article and an opinion column. "Overall, young people's ability to reason about information on the internet can be summed up in one word: bleak," the researchers concluded. A fundamental problem is that typical approaches to teaching information literacy are often outdated, says Sam Wineburg, professor of education at Stan- ford and lead researcher on the study. In a holdover from the days of traditional print news, we often t each a ver tical analy si s of information : clo sely reading an ar ticle to look for mi stakes, dubious assertions, or inconsistencies. "We learn to think critically by paying close attention and reading thoroughly from top to bottom, thinking very carefully about what we're reading," says Wineburg. But poring over a text with a fine-toothed comb from start to At the heart of lateral reading is the idea that a single source of information should always be read with a critical eye. 44 Teaching & Learning

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