I am sure you are familiar with the beautiful photography on the pages of the National Geographic magazine. National Geographic has developed self-paced and Cohort-based free courses to help teachers easily learn to use storytelling in the classroom.
By enrolling in their free online courses, you can learn to use these instructional tools for your own presentation. Students can also create their own storytelling media applications to demonstrate their learning.
Through storytelling techniques, students can explore real-life problems and communicate their ideas and concerns in inspiring and motivational ways.
Using media for storytelling can deepen student thinking about important concepts and ideas. It can also help students learn to communicate their ideas in clear, persuasive ways that impact their audiences.
What better way to learn about audience and point of view?
There is also an educator certification course where teachers can collaborate with other educators to create activity-centered instruction using real world problems and issues in the classroom.
National Geographic courses are open to any educator from anywhere in the world who work with students. Courses vary in length, type and schedule. Skills learned in these courses are appropriate for use in all grade levels and content areas.
One of the key skills that graduating students need for success in college and career is the ability to understand how to determine an appropriate point of view that should be used when communicating with different audiences.
Despite the importance of literacy for job success, 4 out of 5 employers say that recent high school graduates have gaps in their career preparation.
College professors and employers alike complain that students are not prepared to meet the reading and writing demands of either college or the workplace.
Employers and colleges say that not only do students need to master challenging academic content, they also need to develop strong communication skills. These include speaking, writing, and making presentations to diverse audiences.
Not only are students not fully prepared in reading and writing, but they also lack critical thinking skills. Pisa results find that 1 in 6 students are not able to solve problems that require thinking ahead or applying content knowledge to an unfamiliar setting.
In addition to critical thinking and problem-solving, understanding how to write to a specific audience is essential. Knowing how to engage that audience with a targeted point of view is also a necessary skill that students must have.
Reading Skills Students Need for College and Career
To ensure that students are ready to move on, it is important for classroom teachers to have a clear vision of what is important for them to know and be able to do when they leave school.
College professors want students who can think and see issues from multiple perspectives.
On the job, employees must create presentations and written materials appropriate for a range of audiences from customers to colleagues to Board members.
Employers find that new high school graduates are not prepared to make those shifts. New employees have difficulty taking the same information and crafting it to fit the needs of different audiences.
Employers want new hires who can analyze their intended audiences, organize information, and create information specifically tailored to each audience.
Teaching Audience Point of View
Students must understand that everything we read, write, or hear has a point of view and an audience who will receive the message. Ask students to craft and re-craft various messages to meet different audiences.
A good way to do this is by using familiar fairy tales. Students choose a character who is not the main character and then write writing it from various perspectives. This is always a fun and easy way to teach point of view.
For example: in Little Red Riding Hood, students might tell the story from the point of view of the wolf or from the Grandmother. They could re-write the Three Little Pigs from the perspective of the wolf or from the perspective of one particular pig.
Students young and old will love Scieszka’s funny interpretations of these classic tales. They will have a lot of fun creating their own “fractured fairy tale” versions of stories they know and love.
To help students understand the concept of audience in their writing, give students a simple prewritten paragraph. Ask them to identify how this message might change if it is a text to a friend. Then a message to someone they just met.
Learning about how to write for various audiences is also important. You can ask students to create a position paper on a topic of importance.
Then ask students to identify how the message would change if it were a letter to one of their parents. How would it change if it were a petition to the principal?
How might a message on the benefits of attending your school change if it were sent to a friend? What about a potential parent? What about a teacher candidate who might be interested in working at the school?
When students need to think about how a message should change to meet the needs of various audience groups. This improves their communication by targeting their message appropriately.
Are your students able to identify fake news or online hoaxes when they see them online?
The internet is filled with altered images, hoax sites and fake news articles. This makes it hard for all of us – students and teachers alike – to know if what we are reading is true. Researching information is an important skill for students for college and career.
You can help your students think like professional “fact checkers” by teaching them to think critically about what they find on the internet.
Students need to know how to tell credible information from what is purely made up. Social media often contains false, biased or altered pictures and information that students accept as true information.
Learning how to tell the difference between reliable and unreliable information is an essential skill.
One way to help students check the reliability of what they find online is by reading laterally. To read laterally, students read other articles about the source before deciding whether the source can be trusted or not.
How to Read Laterally
To read laterally, first open multiple browsers and check what others are saying about the same topic.
If students find discrepancies during lateral reading, then students should investigate further to avoid falling for fake news or organizations with narrow agendas.
Check out the New Literacy Project’s Checkology lesson to help students understand how and why conspiracy theories develop and why they are compelling for people.
You can use the information found on these sites to teach your students the skills they need to ask questions and protect themselves against “fake news” and unreliable information.
Reliability of Sources
Students should look carefully at who is providing the information. Is this a reliable and trustworthy source? Is the organization reputable and well known in the content area? If not, they may be looking at fake news.
What is the website url? Having an unusual website address that includes “.com” with additional letters after can often provide a clue that the website is may be biased or contain misinformation. .
Even using this suggestion cannot identify sites that are less than reputable. Sources that have “org” or “edu” or “gov” in their url may be more credible but even this is not always a fool-proof way to determine ithe reliability of the information posted there.
Asking the Right Questions
There is a better way to fact check the credibility of information found online. If only one site provides a specific piece of information, then students must research further to determine whether the information is factual.
Is the author an expert in his or her field? How do you know? What is his or her background? What kind of an organization do they work for?
Does the author have expertise in this topic? Students should check the “about us” page to learn about the company or the author’s background and credentials. Who created the website? What are their possible biases?
Students should do more research about the organization and the author to see if the information gives any more clues on their reliability as an expert on the topic.
Can the author be contacted if the reader has questions about the information in the article? In fake news stories, there is often no way to contact the author or organization to ask questions or verify facts.
Is the information on an anonymous social media post from someone claiming to be an authority? Is there any evidence provided that can be verified with other sources?
When students understand how to verify information, they are less likely to fall victim to fake news, conspiracy theories or misinformation.
Validity of Claims and Arguments
Does the writer make bold claims but fail to cite sources or provide documentation to back up any claims?
By searching multiple sources students will be able to spot problems with the information being provided. When was the article written? Has the article been updated? Are there charts, pictures, videos or other forms of data to back up the key points the author is making? Is the information merely the author’s opinions? Does the article list references that can be searched to support the facts?
Are there several other websites that provide conflicting information when compared to the information found on this website? When a student searches for the author of the website, are there negative reviews that come up?If so, verify the information with other sites.
Google provides it’s own tool called Fact Check Explorer. Students can use this tool to fact check information from the web about a topic or a person. You can access this tool at: https://toolbox.google.com/factcheck/explorer.
Students can even read about recent fact checking reports by clicking on the “Recent Fact Checks” tab on the page.
To see if images may have been altered, students can conduct a reverse image search on Google. Another option is to use a website such as https://tineye.com to find similar images online.
Your students can also download a Fake Image Detector for Chrome or Firefox browsers.
Conclusion for Fake News
It is vital that students understand how to do effective research when they are online.
Students need to know how to determine whether what they are reading is true and verifiable. At some of the websites that provide resources for teachers, such as the News Literacy project, you can learn even more about how fake news, misinformation and disinformation is eroding truth and reliability in our society.
Another helpful website for excellent information on fake news is https://www.kqed.org. This organization provides classes for teachers on identifying fake news. This organization maintains an excellent YouTube channel with student-friendly videos. You can use these tools t to help students understand misinformation and fake news.
While online media may flag some sources of misinformation or disinformation, it does not catch everything.
Fake news, online hoaxes, conspiracy theories and the deliberate distribution of misinformation abounds.
Unfortunately, unreliable information and “fake news” are not going away anytime soon. For this reason, it is important to help students develop a critical eye when reading online.
We must train our students to think like fact checkers so that they do not fall victim to misinformation, lies, conspiracy theories and downright false information when they surf the web.