Author:
Liz Crouse, Shawn Lee
Subject:
Journalism, English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson, Unit of Study
Level:
Middle School, High School, Community College / Lower Division
Tags:
  • information literacy
  • information-literacy
  • media literacy
  • media-literacy
  • misinformation
  • wa-dcml
  • wa-social-studies
    License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
    Language:
    English

    Education Standards

    Digital Survival Skills & MisinfoNight (Updated)

    Digital Survival Skills & MisinfoNight (Updated)

    Overview

    In this unit students will reflect on their own media environment, understand how cognitive bias and social media algorithms influence that environment, and learn how to investigate new sources and claims online. These activities culminate in a student-led "social science fair" MisinfoNight event where they present their new skills and knowledge to family members to help them become more savvy information consumers. 

    Creative Commons

    Except where otherwise noted, this work by Liz Crouse, University of Washington, and Shawn Lee, Seattle Public Schools, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. All logos and trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Sections used under fair use doctrine (17 U.S.C. § 107) are marked. 

    This work contains links to websites operated by third parties. These links are provided for your convenience only and do not constitute or imply any affiliation, endorsement, sponsorship, approval, verification, or monitoring.

    Title image Image by Maki from Pixabay.

    Overview

    In this unit students will reflect on their own media environment, understand how cognitive bias and social media algorithms influence that environment, and learn how to investigate new sources and claims online. These activities culminate in a student-led "social science fair" MisinfoNight event where they present their new skills and knowledge to family members to help them become more savvy information consumers. 

    This unit represents a streamlined version of the original Digital Survival Skills curriculum. This streamlined version most closely represents what Shawn Lee, the creator of MisinfoNight, does to help his students develop information literacy skills and teach these skills to their families through a MisinfoNight event.

    The original 4-module Digital Survival Skills curriculum (Module 1 | Module 2 | Module 3 | Module 4) includes additional activities that may be helpful to your students, especially in Modules 2 and 3.

     

    WA Educational Technology Learning Standards

    Digital Citizen - Students recognize the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal and ethical.

    Knowledge Constructor - Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.

    Creative Communicator - Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.

    Global Collaborator - Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.

     

    Essential Questions

    • How does your media environment affect your understanding of the world?
    • How do you sort fact from fiction online?
    • How can you best teach others to sort fact from fiction online? 

     

    Enduring Understandings

    Social media platforms are designed to prioritize user engagement so the companies can make money. This focus on engagement, when combined with our natural desire to engage with information that is emotionally charged or confirms our pre-exisiting beliefs, makes for an online experience that hinders our ability to be well-informed.

    One of the best ways to decide whether to trust a source or claim is to investigate what other trustworthy sources say about it. This investigation can often be done quickly – in less than a minute – with a few key strategies. 

    The media environment we are living in is unfamiliar to everyone. Sharing our knowledge about how to identity mis- and disinformation will protect our community from those who spread misinformation to serve a personal, political, or financial agenda.

     

    Learning Targets

    Students will be able to…

    • Explain why today’s online information landscape can be hard to navigate
    • Analyze their use of social media platforms and identify patterns in what topics and ideas are showcased 
    • Evaluate their own confirmation bias and explain the impacts of confirmation bias at an individual and societal level
    • Explain how social media algorithms and confirmation bias can lead people to false or extreme content online
    • Investigate sources to determine their level of credibility 
    • Use trustworthy sources to verify questionable information online
    • Design a teaching activity to help others learn a digital survival skill
    • Facilitate their activity with an audience of their family or peers

    Lessons

    Completing all lessons, including the final MisinfoNight project, takes approximately 12-17 class days (2.5–3.5 weeks).

    Unless otherwise noted, all lessons are designed to take one class day and may include some worktime outside of class.

    If you plan to complete all lessons including the culminating MisinfoNight project, we suggest introducing the project toward the beginning of the unit with this slideshow and assignment sheet.

    Intstruction notes can be found in the speaker notes section of the slides below.

     

    Lesson 1: Today's Information Landscape

    Slides and materials

    Students consider the effects of the shift in media production from the pre-internet world, when a small group controlled media content, to today’s Information Age, when anyone with access to a device and the internet can create and share content with a wide audience.

    Lesson 2: My Media Environment

    Slides and materials

    Students examine their use of online platforms by analyzing the content of their social media feeds. They create a "one-pager" to represent their findings and write a short reflection.

    Lesson 3: Confirmation Bias

    Option 1 Slides and materials | Option 2 Slides and materials

    Students learn about confirmation bias through videos and an activity that aims to activate their confirmation bias and allow them to reflect on it through one of the following lesson options:

    • Option 1 – The main activity in this lesson comes from MisinfoDay 2019 and uses articles from credible sources that support opposing views. 
    • Option 2 – This lesson comes from MisinfoDay 2022 and uses a mix of true and false social media posts. 

    Lesson 4: Social Media Algorithms

    Option 1 slides and materials | Option 2 solar panel feed and election feed

    Students learn how social media platforms’ algorithms influence the information we see and believe online through one fo the following options:

    • Option 1 – This lesson asks students to explore the YouTube algorithm by following a search term down the rabbit hole or by comparing their search results to their classmates. 
    • Option 2 – This lesson comes from CIVIX and asks students to engage with a social media feed about solar panels or an upcoming election. In the end, students realize they were given two different feeds and discuss how what they saw influenced their opinion of the topic.

    Lesson 5: Investigating Questionable Claims and Sources
    4-6 class days depending on which option your choose

    Recommended lessons from CIVIX and the Stanford History Education Group.

    Students learn to use lateral reading and other strategies to sort fact from fiction online.

    Lesson 6: Show Your Skills Mini Project

    Slides and materials

    Students demonstrate the fact-checking skills they learned in Lesson 5 by investigating an questionable piece of information found online.

    Lesson 7: Preparing MisinfoNight Presentations
    4-6 class days depending on how much work is done outside of class

    What is MisinfoNight? (Background for educators) | Hosting MisinfoNight (Student-facing materials)

    Students choose groups and topics, draft a 5-minute interactive presentation to teach family members one of the digital survival skills, meet with their teacher for feedback, finalize their presentation, and present it to family members at the MisinfoNight "social science fair" event.