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Fake News Lesson

CMC Teen Librarian Alanna Graves visited with our 7th and 8th grade students in Steve Gurdgiel's social studies classes to discuss how to spot fake news.

In the torrent of news coming from online media today, teachers are finding it more and more important to teach their students how to tell real news from fake news.  Steve Gurdgiel, middle school social studies teacher in Dennis Township, finds it especially troubling when discussing current events.  

 "Outside of school, most students are getting their news online or second-hand through other people on social media now instead of watching the evening news with their families," he notes.  Gurdgiel believes this exposes many students to extremely biased viewpoints of important topics that are often based on bad information.

He invited Cape May County Teen Librarian Alanna Graves to teach his classes how to discern what is legitimate news from biased or fake news.  She says this is a growing problem with 62% of adults using social media as a primary news source though there are no safeguards in place to ensure such posts are even fact-based.  She is encouraged that students are often able to make a good call on an article's legitimacy just from the title.  She takes students through an exercise with a series of actual online posts, some real and some fake, to figure out which is which.

Starting with something as simple as the domain name for the website can be a clue, but often the reader is required to dig a little deeper.  "Adults often look for news that reinforces their own viewpoints rather than looking for objective and impartial news sources, which can lead to people believing things that aren't true," Graves says.  She hopes the students she works with and the teens she programs for at the library will be more skeptical once they understand how to figure out what is real and what is not.

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