Fostering Critical Thinking in Students Amidst the Fake News Pandemic

For two weeks, my Grade 6 students and I discussed, grappled with, and analyzed the proliferation of fake news articles in the Internet, especially in various social media platforms. This was not an intended part of the lesson at first. But, since we were learning about the virtue of honesty and universal value of truth, the students themselves brought out the issue of fake news articles in our discussion. The students were aware of the presence of and how the fake news pandemic challenges and clouds the way we live the virtues of honesty and integrity.

fake-1903774_1280Like the United States, the Philippines had been thrown into frenzy when, during the recent 2016 National Elections, different unreliable websites started posting articles aimed to discredit candidates of opposing parties. The articles spread like wildfire because of the undeniable effect and pervasiveness of social media among Filipinos. Netizens turned against each other. The line between facts and lies was blurred.

So, how do we teach students to be critical of what they are reading in the Internet or watching in the news?

The answer to this complex question is not simple. However, as teachers, we can start with spreading awareness of the presence and danger of fake news around us. Spreading awareness must be coupled with a critical and evaluative attitude towards news. Teaching students to evaluate websites and sources of information must be embedded in all subjects in school because this is an essential skill as we continue to depend on the Internet as an instant source of information. The students must be able to question and know the author and institution behind the news and at the same time apply the “rule of three” which essentially asks the reader to confirm the news through reading three other valid sources.

The challenge of fighting fake news does stop here. To help other netizens know about the fake news, we must teach our students to be proactive and take part in reporting or flagging fake news. A few months ago, I have seen information campaigns that local news agencies have created to fight this epidemic through thinking before clicking and reporting to social media authorities the users that spread them.

In my own classroom, aside from equipping the students the needed skills, I also gave them the chance to take part in a proactive stance against fake news epidemic. In a few days, my students will be sharing their own versions of information campaigns regarding fighting fake news in social media. The future multimedia projects created with iPad apps will be fruits of their collaboration and critical thinking. Through these simple projects, I hope to help my students take part in the global fight against fake news in order to uphold the universal values of truth, honesty, and integrity. Wait for the next article that will showcase my students’ campaigns against fake news.

Some helpful resources in teaching students to evaluate websites or online news:

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Beyond Words: Being a Top 50 Finalist for the 2017 Global Teacher Prize

So, a month ago, I received one of the most wonderful news I ever had before 2016 ended. Varkey Foundation and the Global Teacher Prize notified me that I am one of the Top 50 Finalists of the 2016 Global Teacher Prize. This was huge as I am the first Philippine-based educator to become a finalist.
About the Prize:

The Global Teacher Prize is a US $1 million award presented annually to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession.

The prize serves to underline the importance of educators and the fact that, throughout the world, their efforts deserve to be recognised and celebrated. It seeks to acknowledge the impacts of the very best teachers – not only on their students but on the communities around them.

 

About my work:

Francis comes from a remote island of the Philippines called Luzon, and was inspired to become a teacher by the fact that his own public school teachers had been inspirational for him. Despite not attending an expensive private school, Francis was able to work hard in his youth and win academic competitions. Originally he intended to attend law school, but in the end found himself motivated to try and help young people as he himself had been helped. Teaching today, Francis understands that amongst other things this means integrating and using technology in order to deepen learning. After his first year of using iPads and other tools, 94% of his students said that it had helped their learning.

More about my bio here: http://www.globalteacherprize.org/finalist/francis-jim-tuscano/

I want to share a glimpse of how I use tech tools in class, not just to deepen learning, but also to make learning meaningful and relevant to my students, especially in their daily lives. This is about harnessing the power of tech tools to foster appreciation and living of values in life.
As promised, I thank my 6H students, their parents, and Miss Jane Cacacho for allowing the video to happen. Thank you for the help, Jane and the NEXT Team (Sirs Gelo and Jessie). Owe you guys big time!
Last, a huge congratulations to my fellow 2017 Global Teacher Prize finalists. We are all doing great works. Let us continue changing the world to a better place of our students and for all teachers.
Source:
  • Global Teacher Prize: http://www.globalteacherprize.org/about/