Skip to main content

Prevent the spread of fake news: Teach students to evaluate sources

When all news looks the same, how do you know if it is real?

Walk into any coffee shop, sporting event, school, or other public venue in 2017 and you will likely find people accessing the Internet from various devices.  Whether people are accessing social media or searching Google, they will likely see headlines and images about news posted within the last few minutes or hours.   In fact, a 2016 survey by the Pew Research Center found that one in four people receive their news online and 50% of the news accessed by 18-29 year olds comes from online sources.   Unlike TV or print, the Internet makes it possible to follow breaking news and updated stories 24/7.   The problem is that many people tend to accept the information posted online as true without looking beyond the surface and then with a simple click of the mouse the story spreads.  

It should come as no surprise that a recent study of teenage students, conducted by Stanford University, indicates that most teens cannot tell if a news story is fake. The Wall Street Journal, along with many other news outlets, immediately shared the results of the study highlighting how schools do not consistently teach media literacy skills to students. The information is alarming when we consider the role social media and the Internet plays in the lives of teenagers.  Teaching students how to analyze and interpret what they are reading is important, but more time needs to be spent on evaluating sources.  

How can you help your students distinguish the difference between real news and scams or satire? Check out the lesson provided below that is ready to use to help students learn how to determine if a source is credible and tips for detecting fake news.  

Lesson Plan:  Extra, Extra! Is it true?

Slide Presentation:  What sources of information can you trust?
Worksheet:  Criteria to evaluate sources
Assignment:  Fake or Real PSA Campaign Assignment

Please share any other great resources you may have to help teach source evaluation.


Mitchell, Amy, Jeffrey Gottfried, Michael Barthel, and Elisa Shearer. "The Modern News Consumer." Pew Research Center's Journalism Project. N.p., 07 July 2016. Web. 03 Jan. 2017. <>.

Shellenbarger, Sue. "Most Students Don't Know When News Is Fake, Stanford Study Finds." The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, 21 Nov. 2016. Web. 03 Jan. 2017. <>.


  1. Newsela has pulled together some sources for teaching media literacy. Check out Media Literacy in the 21st Century on their site

  2. The antidote to fake news is education. I hope every teacher feels responsible for teaching students how to detect reliable from fake. Thank you!

  3. I’m using this video from with my 5th & 6th graders on the same topic.
    Leah Logan
    To all librarians,
    Found this site with a good lesson on fake news that you can use for upper elementary, middle or even high school
    Christine Kolstoe

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Here is a link to a lesson on Fake News that is ready to use 

  7. Here are some other great resources and infographic from


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

How Do I Share the Summary of Results from Google Forms with Others?

App Smash: Word and Google Slides to Curve Text

Google Docs: Add Numbers and Prefixes to Lists