Recently, I have been extraordinarily focused on media literacy and social media. This week I will be working with my school's PTSA on these topics in hopes of informing parents about what students should be looking for in the media and how they can use social media responsibly. At the ASCD Empower 17 conference, I happened upon a book called Master the Media by Julie Smith. I cannot speak highly enough about this book. It is a fantastic introduction to how media corporations and advertising drives what we watch, read, and hear. Teachers and parents should get their own a copy of this book because it has some practical questions for them to discuss with the children in their lives. I read the whole book on the plane rides home from the conference and I have been going back and rereading sections of it for the past two days.
In addition to the information I was able to get from this book, I also heard about an article this morning called "Why Fake News Spreads: A Neurological Explanation." This article, written by Patrick Tucker, discusses how our brain chemistry and the need for social acceptance from our peers dictates what we perceive to be true news vs. news we are critical of. This would be a great article to help start a discussion in the classroom about how to prevent spreading unsupported news.
Finally, I came across the information about fact-checking day. April 2nd is scheduled to be the official international fact-checking day. There is a website, factcheckingday.com, that has a number of how to articles, lesson plans, quizzes, and a map of activities that are being held across the globe. Fact-checking and media literacy is something we should be promoting in classrooms all year long, but if you haven't known where to start or been able to fit it in to your plans then April 2nd is a fantastic day to get started!