Fact, Opinion and Fake – Thinking About Navigating the News

imgres.jpgI have fallen behind on my reading kids books. I am reading to many newspaper articles, magazines and blog posts and wondering how teachers are helping students make sense of the current political situation. How do you help students navigate the news – real, fake and alternative?

imgres-1.jpgHow do you share without giving your own feelings and thoughts? How do you stay in the real facts?  I am having trouble sorting what is real and what is created to make an impacted around a topic.


When teaching social studies, history and political science it is about

  • searching for facts,
  • dates when articles are posted,
  • who wrote it,
  • who published it.
  • are these people presenting opinions or factual events or research?
  • Who did the research?
  • Is it current research?
  • What was the sample size? ( 20 people or 20,000 people)

This has always been the job of social studies teachers. Really, all teachers need to teach the difference between fact and fiction. It is our job as we read the news and non fiction to search for facts and be able confirm that they are really facts.

So many questions need to be asked before we can believe and past on new information we have just learned. Information is coming at us in so many directions and from so many sources. Who and what do we trust?

An example of this was an article I read the other day about changes in the immigration laws, due to Trump, that were hurting the migrant workers. It was also hurting the tomato farmers. They were unable to get their tomato crops in because workers were scared and all the migrant workers had disappeared. They were afraid to show up to work.

Yes, I believe that migrant workers may be laying low these days but – let’s think about this. It is February, the beginning of a growing season – not harvest time for anyone here in the Northern Hemisphere. There are not tomatoes rotting in the fields now – people are planting now or maybe not even beginning to plant. When I looked a little closer the article was from 2011 – late summer. It is old news and in this situation it is fake.  If I had shared this news I would be forwarding fake news. The importances of looking at the details.

This article was later re posted with current factual information but the damage had been done. There are people who will not see the follow up article with corrections. They will either believe the old news and repeat it or they will use it as an example of people pushing fake news.

There are lots of examples in the daily news these days that we can use to help our students learn about facts, opinions and fake news. It is a big job and one that needs to be done with care and respect for all voices. Here are a few article I have been reading about helping students learn about fake news. There are many more but you need to pick and choose with care – which ones will work for your students.




What are you doing to help your students understand the difference between real and fake news?

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
This entry was posted in non fiction, research, Teaching and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Fact, Opinion and Fake – Thinking About Navigating the News

  1. arjeha says:

    How true. Students need to learn that not everything they read in the paper, or on line, is factual. Sources need to be checked and we need to teach students how to do this.

  2. Ramona says:

    Media literacy is such an important skill. Hopefully teachers are taking advantage of these resources. Thanks for sharing.

  3. We have to be fierce consumers of the media, as well as fact-checkers. Our lives today demand it.

    Thanks for this important post, Joanne.

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