Fake News Alerts: Teaching News Literacy Skills in a Meme World

Taylor, Diana

ID – Media Literacy

Ireland, S. (2018). Fake news alerts: Teaching news literacy skills in a meme world. The Reference Librarian, 59(3), 122-128.

Summary: In this article, Ireland addresses the need for students to have the skills to be able to decipher whether information is true or not. In today’s fast paced world of technology, most information is sent in less than 100 words, and readers view it as true. Ireland suggests that librarians can make their own memes and infographics to provide visual information to combat it. This article covers memes, what is fake news, identifying fake news, identifying reliable news sources, accessing sources, addressing bias and logical fallacies, and how to stop being part of the problem.

Evaluation: This was an excellent article on how librarians can help address the issue of fake news with students. Ireland provides us with all the necessarily terminology to discuss fake news and provides resources to post in the library for students to view.

Fake News

Katy Golden


Coughlan, S. (2017). Schools should teach pupils how to spot ‘fake news’. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/education-39272841

In an article that I thought was especially relevant given the current political climate, this author discusses how the educational leadership in England plans to alter their standardized test, the Pisa, to assess students’ abilities to think critically and distinguish fake news from real news. They talk exstensively about the idea of critical judgment, and how students need to have the 21st century skill of being able to parse out truth from fiction.

Now that you can’t necessarily trust everything you read, especially on the Internet, it’s particularly important that kids can think critically and decide for themselves what is and isn’t true. They warn of other dangers inherent in the current social media culture as well, such as the development of a mono-culture and the belief in one right way to do things, that they suggest teachers address as well.

As school librarians, it’s a big part of our job to help kids become information literate and a very big part of that is developing the skill of parsing fake news from real news.

Information literacy is dead: the role of libraries in a post-truth world

Audrey Kelly

Johnson, Ben. “Information literacy is dead: the role of libraries in a post-truth world.”

Computers in Libraries, Mar. 2017, p. 12+. Expanded Academic ASAP,
it=r&id=GALE%7CA485972264&asid=66deeaf745f81bde38356dd0ca3b138b. Accessed
11 Apr. 2017.

A feature/opinion piece calling for librarians to remain true to the principles of providing accurate and factual information.  The author asks “… are our efforts to promote intellectual freedom–a diehard dogma in library science, which resists all forms of censorship–also a cover? Does our total commitment to intellectual freedom stand even if it means sacrificing those other stated values of public good, democracy, and social responsibility?” Johnson cogently describes the high stakes factors involved with ‘fake news’ and ‘information wars’.  

In the war on fake news, school librarians have a huge role to play

Campbell, Renee
Tiffany, Kaitlyn. (2016). In the war on fake news, school librarians have a huge role to play: Talking to an information sciences professor about the challenges ahead. The Verge. Retrieved from http://www.theverge.com/2016/11/16/13637294/school-libraries-information-literacy-fake-news-election-2016.
Interview with Professor Nicole A. Cooke of the University of Illinois School of Information Studies on how, as information specialists, to teach how to identify “fake news”. Cooke discusses the “all or nothing” approach people today have towards news. That “a lot of people say that they ‘distrust’ something not because it’s not trustworthy but because they actually just don’t agree with it.” And, how our students, who are the most technologically savvy, may also be the least informed because the speed of the internet and social media allows little time to adequately test credibility.

This is a very timely article with useful tools for librarians, teachers, and students. In these past two weeks, I have had numerous discussions with all three groups and am thankful for the insight and applicable tools. I especially like her advice to “meet students where the are” on Wikipedia, Facebook, and Twitter, and being a guide through the wilderness of information and misinformation.

American girls: Social media and the secret lives of teenagers

Bradshaw, Trina


Sales, N.J. 2016. American girls: Social media and the secret lives of teenagers. New York: Random House.

The author of this book travelled across the country and interviewed teenagers to figure out how they use social media. Armed with plenty of research to legitimize what she hears, she gives the nitty, gritty, ugly truth about how Instagram, Whisper, Yik Yak, Vine, YouTube, Kik, Ask.fm, and Tinder have changed how teens (especially girls) interact with each other. She describes how social media stars have changed how girls grow up. She describes how teens idolizing figures like Kim Kardashian, who has made millions off promoting her own nudity online, has normalized this dangerous type of behavior. In addition, the many, many makeup tutorial stars on youtube have ensured that even preteens have the tools needed to look flawless, a necessity in social media platforms that encourage instant judgment. In fact, this pressure to look flawless all of the time has done much to harm the self esteem and image of today’s young girls. She talks about how dating has changed, with more and more interactions taking place online in an environment in which consequences are easier to ignore and risks are easier to take. With pornography being so easily accessible, the teenage culture has become hypersexualized, struggling between extreme sexism and feminism. Lastly, bullying has been much more pervasive in the lives of modern teens, since they are constantly connected in the online world. Much of what she reports proved to be consistent across race, geography, and socioeconomic status. She ends with a call to action; we as adults must be aware and make legislative changes in order to help our teens navigate the new challenges that they face in our evolving world.


This was a compelling read; I could barely put the book down. Even people who have teenagers and work with teenagers don’t know the extent of the depravity of the expected behavior being pushed by social media, modern celebrities, and the accessibility of adult content online. If libraries are going to stay relevant in the modern age, we must understand the world that our patrons live in. I hear often that we need to engage the community on social media so it is of paramount important that we understand how it is currently being used so that we can either fit in the landscape or be a part of the change to advance the human condition.

New Technologies and 21st Century Skills

Boyer, Allison
New technologies and21st century skills. (2016). Retreived from http://newtech.coe.uh.edu/
Summary: This website is part of an ongoing project by the Laboratory for Innovative Technology in Education.  This site provides an explanation of what it means to be literate in the 21st Century, what skills are considered 21st Century, as well as an ongoing lists of resources to help teachers understand 21st Century skills and ways to incorporate these skills in the classroom for student development.

Review: I found this website to be quite helpful in understanding 21st Century skills.  Not only does it provide an in-depth explanation of these skills, especially in relation to the education field, but the list of resources is extensive and ever-growing. It’s this aspect that I found most interesting.  This website is part of a project organized and maintained by LITE, and the list of resources will only continue to grow.  Resource include links to outside website, videos, Google Docs, etc.  This website is definitely one to remember.  

It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens

Posted by Karen Kotchka


Boyd, Danah. (2014) It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. Yale University Press: New Haven, CT.


This full-length book is a well-written study that compiles and analyzes the results of on-the-ground research into how teenagers use social media.  It talks about the reasons and the ways that teens communicate and the platforms they use as well as addressing some of the dangers and problems that are real or that adults think are a problem with teens and social media.  Boyd also addresses the importance of digital literacy and how some teens are device savvy without being necessarily able to critically examine what is being put out there.


I thought this book was an excellent resource for any adult working with teenagers today.  It contained origianl thought as well as honest research and would be helpful to gain insight into how social media can be understood and exploited for learning.

Incorporating Social Media in the Classroom

Friel, Holly
IL-social media
McMeans, April. (2015). Incorporating Social Media in the Classroom. Education, 131(3), 289-290.
The use of social media will improve student engagement and encourage collaboration.  Many educators are resistant to changing their teaching practices, but without incorporating social media and other technological resources into their classrooms, teachers are not adequately preparing students for their futures.  The author states that students are using social media in our classrooms, whether we like or notice it or not, so it is encouraged that we use this student-centered tool in our teaching practices. The author provides brief lesson plan ideas that use social media tools such as Twitter, blogs, YouTube, Pinterest, and selfies. 
This short article makes a good case for why teachers should incorporate – not ban – the use of social media tools in the classroom.  Anyone who has been in a classroom in the U.S. recently will see students using social media tools on their cell phones.  The author argues that this is a great opportunity for us to capitalize on tools that our students already know how to use (and often better than we do), and actually enjoy using.  The author explains that teachers can teach what they want students to learn and do using social media tools.  The brief lesson plan ideas and descriptions of the social media tools are helpful for teachers who are new to these tools and/or haven’t figured out how to use them in the classroom.

Free Technology for Teachers: 100 Practical Ed Tech Tips Videos

Beverly Rupe

Byrne, R. (2015, April 21). Free technology for teachers: 100 practical Ed Tech tips videos [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2015/04/100-practical-ed-tech-tips-videos.html?m=1

Free Technology for Teachers: 100 Practical Ed Tech Tips Videos

Richard Byrne’s blog (http://www.freetech4teachers.com/) is a great resource for teachers and librarians. I seem to always find something personally useful, or useful to someone else at work. This is a link to just one very practical example, but every visit to this blog is always worthwhile. A must-add to any PLN.