Teaching Fake News

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There’s a lot of news out there now about fake news.  I think the topic offers a wonderful opportunity for the writing classroom, particular for any class that involves research.  Not only can students learn how to do rigorous research, but they also can learn how to spot a fake story on Facebook or Twitter.


I would probably start such an activity by bringing in some fake news posts.  BuzzFeed has a nice collection, or you might also try the archive at Snopes.  As a class, students can analyze these stories and look for clues that indicate they’re fake.  FactCheck.org has a great article on how to spot fake news and NPR has a good introduction to the topic as well.


The class as a whole can develop a guide for finding fake news and then students can bring in other examples, explaining how they used the guide to locate the fake articles.  As they move into research, the class can invert the fake news guide to create a guide for finding solid and reliable sources.


Given the suspected impact those fake news stories had in recent events, I think this is a great exercise and a great way to think about research.  Hope you give it a try.

About the Author
Barclay Barrios is an Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Programs at Florida Atlantic University, where he teaches freshman composition and graduate courses in composition methodology and theory, rhetorics of the world wide web, and composing digital identities. He was Director of Instructional Technology at Rutgers University and currently serves on the board of Pedagogy. Barrios is a frequent presenter at professional conferences, and the author of Emerging.