California Educator

March 2017

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 39 of 55

middle. It's important, he tells students, to be aware of bias from those who are delivering information. There is also the blur between television commentators and news reporters and anchors, says Billie Joe Wright, a social studies teacher at Workman High School in City of Industry. "More and more talking heads are replacing reporters and anchors," observes the Hacienda La Puente Teachers Association member. "Anchors are acting more like referees to liberal or con- servative commentators who are debating and arguing, rather than doing actual reporting. ose watching may not realize that what they are hearing is just commentary. And they are being duped by it." Understanding the difference Lately Wright has been teaching his students how to differentiate between real news and fake news, with the help of an interactive PBS NewsHour lesson. (See sidebar, page 37.) "It's not just motivating them to learn this stuff, but helping them take the initiative to not want to be fooled. I tell them they can either be the player or get played, and I'm helping them realize how not to get played." "It's definitely challenging to confront students about fake news if they are invested in believing it," says Lawndale High School social studies teacher Leyla Fikes. "But it's necessary. Adolescents are prone to believe tall tales, which is why it is so important to help them refine their critical thinking skills." e Centinela Valley Secondary Teachers Association member encourages students to get news from reliable sources, such as the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and e Economist. "We discuss the importance of proper citation when conducting research for essays and research papers, and that it is acceptable to use Wikipedia to generate ideas and find references, but not to cite Wiki itself as a source. We also examine the risks faced by relying too heavily on one source for information. We discuss the need to visit legitimate sources in print, online and on TV for authentic information and the need to weigh bias." As for social media sites, she urges students to have "friends" of all opinions. "I stress the importance of reading opposing views on any topic to foster more profound engagement with the issue and to reach a sound conclusion through evaluation." Shankle urges students to read in-depth stories about subject matter and watch documentaries. She also thinks it is a good idea to weave the subject of real and fake news into all classes. " W h en we read Jonathan Swift 's 'A Modest Proposal ,' we asked where Swift might publish this in today's world. My soph- omore English team is looking at how to incorporate fake news in units on dystopian novels like Or well's 1984 and Huxley 's Brave New World." She isn't convinced legislation should mandate separate lessons on news reliability ; she believes they can easily be incorporated into the new standards, which direct students to gather relevant information from multiple legitimate print and digital sources. In an age of alternative facts and a president who is at war with the media, it's critically important for students to seek credible news sources so they can make informed decisions that can pos- itively impact the future, says Ziegler. " With so many voices reporting what's going on, whoever's the loudest and draws the most attention is sometimes believed. Teaching students how to evaluate information is the most important reading skill we can give them." " I stress the importance of reading opposing views on any topic to foster more profound engagement with the issue and to reach a sound conclusion through evaluation." — Leyla Fikes, Centinela Valley Secondary Teachers Association 38 teaching & learning

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of California Educator - March 2017