Purveyors of fake news often rely on making false connections between seemingly related topics. Such is the stuff of conspiracy theories and conjecture. To help our students be more aware of fake news, we should help them understand the tricks of the trade. To help develop your students’ ability to synthesize information, let’s try playing a game, that I am calling 2 Abe Lincolns and 1 Pinocchio.
This activity is based on the Bluff the Listener game from my favorite NPR radio program, Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me! The premise of the game is that the three celebrity panelists each tell a story about a common theme, but only one of the stories is true. The caller then has to guess which one of the stories is true. If you are not familiar with the program, try searching for Bluff the Listener. You will find a multitude of examples to listen to. To introduce your students to the activity, consider playing one of the segments for them. You should preview the segment to determine that the content is appropriate for your students.
I have created my own game based for you to try using three news stories focusing on the environment. See if you can determine which ONE of the stories is the Pinocchio and which TWO are more honest and truthful.
A Great Global Sand Shortage Is Upon Us
Rocks Falling Into Oceans, Not Climate, Causing Seas To Rise
Freak Blizzard Covers Sahara Desert in SNOW as Temperatures Turn Sub Zero
Not sure which ones are true? Try using the CAPES framework that I discussed in this post to more critically examine the stories.
After you and your students have explored my example. Have them try to create their own. It is actually harder than you might first think it to be. Unlike in the Bluff the Listener game, your students should locate two Abraham Lincolns, or true stories, instead of only one. Based on my experiences in completing this activity working with students and teachers, it works much better to have only one false story.
After your students have compiled their stories, I encourage you to share them in the comment section below or online via social media using the hashtags #FightingFakeNews and #2Lincolns1Pinocchio.
Here is a set of directions for you to use with your students.
Indeed, this is not new advice, and in many ways owe a debt of gratitude to The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.
When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal.
If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.
By more deeply considering what stories might be real and might be fake and intentionally going in search of fake news, we can better know our enemy and be more equipped to battle the Fake News Boss in every arena.
Fighting Fake News! was reviewed by VOYA Magazine in the June 2018 issue and is featured in the October 2018 issue as one of the best reviewed professional books from the previous year in “Extending the Five-Foot Bookshelf: More Essential Books for Professionals Who Serve Teens”
Here is some of what they had to say!
“Rather than waging war against the internet and information technology, Housand argues, we should be teaching young people to be critical consumers of it. . . . Housand puts forth ideas that manage to bridge the gap between theory and practice—and he does it all without underestimating (or pandering to) the teachers or students he imagines using his guide. Without being glib or overly serious, Housand has created a highly accessible, highly useful guide.”