Karen Schlekeway
Information Science, Journalism, Reading Informational Text
Material Type:
Activity/Lab, Unit of Study
Upper Primary
  • Cyber Citizenship
  • Fake News
  • Internet and WWW
    Creative Commons Attribution
    Media Formats:
    Interactive, Video

    Education Standards

    Fact or Fiction: Detecting Fake News on the World Wide Web

    Fact or Fiction: Detecting Fake News on the World Wide Web


    Fake News on the Web

    This unit showcases lessons about Fake News, how students can learn to recongnize legitimate news stories from the fake stuff, and why recognizing the truth on the internet is so important.

    Introduction-Day 1

    First have students access the Save the Mountain Walrus story. They can read this in small groups or you as the teacher can project the story and read it together as a class. 

    After the story has been read, discuss the following:

    1. What can we do to save the Mountain Walrus?

    2. Has anyone ever seen a mountain walrus?

    3. Does anyone notice any inconsistencies in the story?

    4. Do you believe this to be a true story or fake news? Why?



    During this unit we will learn:

    The World Wide Web comes with an overload of information. Though this is a benefit to teachers and students, internet has a dark side.

    Photoshop shows you pictures of things that didn’t actually happen, websites have articles with fake content, and amateur journalists invent impressive statistics that are actually a hoax. On the internet, anything may look real, but it isn’t. Think twice before you reference it.

    In this fake news guide, we will discover how you as students can detect fake news and help dispell the falsehoods.


    To begin, please open and read the article linked below. Be prepared to discuss questions prompted by your teacher.

    What is Fake News exactly?-Day 2

    Teacher reads Fake News definition or has it written on the board. The students break into three small groups and take one of the 3 reasons we should stay away from Fake News and give examples of how it can affect others and why it influences some.

    Definition-“Fake news” is a term that has come to mean different things to different people. At its core, we are defining “fake news” as those news stories that are false: the story itself is fabricated, with no verifiable facts, sources or quotes.

    Below is why we want to stay away from Fake News:

    1. Fake statements can influence people and businesses

    A fake news story is intended to influnce those who follow certain groups as in our video clip about Pope Francis. This is intended to sway those who are Catholic and follow the words of Pope Francis.

    2. Fake multimedia can be used to ruin people's lives

    Photoshopped images of people can affect a person’s personal life. People start judging without checking the facts or the source once they see the photoshopped picture.

    3. Fake news feeds a conversation

    Sometimes, fake news spreads like rumors or gossip. People will believe and share anything they find engaging, or that reinforce what they believe. 

    Be a Fake News Detective-Day 3

    Give your students the tools to be able to recognize Fake News before they read it and believe it.

    If you want your students to locate the right articles, you should teach them how to fact-check their resources. Go through the list above. List them on the board to cover each one together.

    Here’s a little tip already: The most important step towards teaching your students fact checking is to make them aware that everyone can create content. This will be explained further in Day 5 and serve as a culminating activity.


    Ways to Dectect Fake News Stories and Pictures:

    1. Check the Headline: 

    Read the headline:Look for excessive punctuation, capitalizations or, misspelled words. Watch for traps such as those headlines that  tell you there is a secret that the media won't tell you. These should set off your alarm that something is not quite right and you need to dig a little deeper.

    2. Use Google to Fact Check Images.:

    Watch the embedded video about using Google to check images.

    Assignment- Watch this on your own. Try it on Google. When you're done, create and share a Google doc with the teacher. Include  the picture/image you checked with a sentence or two about how you verified the content of the picture or how you discovered it was Fake News.

    3. Is the site up-to-date?

    Are the links accuarate and lead to where they are intended? 

    4. Best Practices:

    It’s always better to check 2 or more sources to verify information. The more resources state the same facts, the more likely it is that the information is true.


    Check the Facts-Day 4

    Introduce what a "fact-checking" website is. Get students started by opening the three links and showcasing what makes them fact checkers.

    All sides is not an exact fact-checker website, but it takes an issue and shows what the left side would say, the right side would say and what it would say if it was written more for the people in the middle.

    You may need to do one topic together as a class so you can demonstrate the steps of searching the topic in the fact checking sites. 

    It also may help students if you would generate a list of good topics to check on the board. This will help when students are prompted to check a news story on their own or with a partner.

    Today you will explore one of the three Fact Chekcing Websites:

    Choose one of the three resources linked below. Take a current event topic and see what you can find out about it. 


    When you write stories that are not fake, you can use sites that are proven to be trustworthy resources targeted to be used by kids.

    1. Newsela

    2. The Learning Network

    3. Scholastic News



    4th Graders create Fake News-Day 5

    Now is the time that you get to be a fake news reporter.

    Select one of the three fake news generators below. Use it to create your own fake news story. Once you have developed the story and  uploaded pictures, print out your story and hang it on the Bulletin Board outside the library labeled Fake News February.

    Fake News Scavenger 6

    Teachers may have to help the students get started with this, or the students can be grouped together in heterogenous groups of 3 or 4.

    The last and final project has you grouping up and completing a scavenger hunt on

    This assignment allows you to work cooperatively to show what you've learned in a fun and engaging way. Prizes will be awarded to the group that has the most points at the end of the class.