Social Media Literacy: Fake News & Propaganda vs. Quality Journalism

Grade Levels
9th - 12th, Homeschool
Formats Included
  • Zip
  • Google Apps™
  • Internet Activities
58 pages
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Includes Google Apps™
The Teacher-Author indicated this resource includes assets from Google Workspace (e.g. docs, slides, etc.).


Want to teach your students how to recognize quality journalism and stop the spread of fake news but don't have the time to develop a lesson plan on this new and ever-developing topic?

You would think students who have grown up with the internet would easily navigate everything it has to offer, but according to a study done by Stanford researchers, that couldn't be further from the truth. Researchers describe the results of the study done on middle school, high school, and college students across the country “in one word: bleak.” Additionally, as students will learn in the lessons included here, events such as a man firing an assault-style weapon at a New York pizza restaurant demonstrate that fake news can have very real effects.

The good news is that you can do something about this.

Included in this common core aligned resource is everything your students need to know about fake news and the new media literacy as well as the cognitive biases that cause us to fall for manipulative media and propaganda.

These lessons also make great choices for online teaching because the clear instructions and structured questions are written for students to tackle independently. Additionally, the concrete text-based questions and unique sources discourage cheating and encourage students to answer for themselves.

The variety of materials, real-life connections, and innovative approaches to the information will keep students engaged and excited about learning. Learning from home gives students a great opportunity for exploring the TED Talks, articles, and real-life sources examined in the unit.

***This best-selling unit also now includes a coronavirus expansion pack which explores the dangers of fake news and COVID 19 and the entire unit has been optimized for teaching online with Google Classroom.***

These lessons are essential for your students:

  • When teenagers know how to tell if they can trust a tweet, they won't inadvertently retweet a damaging story about an innocent individual.

  • When students have the skills to tell the difference between an advertisement and an editorial, they might not be tricked into buying products that they don't need and they can’t afford.

  • If future or current voters know how to check on news stories that they read on Facebook, they won’t decide on candidates with information from fake news.

These multi-day lesson plans will take students through the process of identifying what they know, understanding the impact of fake news, looking at the way that quality journalism is constructed, and learning what they need to know to be responsible consumers of media.

In all, there is enough for a two week’s worth of lesson plans including:

a fun quiz to “catch” students in one of the common cognitive biases

• questions on two different entertaining videos about cognitive bias

• questions on an informative and challenging non-fiction article about cognitive bias

• questions for a close reading of a famous poem that they’ll see in a totally new light

• a prompt, rubric, and graphic organizer for an informational essay on cognitive bias

• an engaging introductory “quiz” for students to see what they need to know about fake news

• questions for close reading on two compelling and contemporary news articles about the consequences of fake news

an extensive answer key for all sets of questions

• handouts and rubrics for a cooperative group presentation project

• information on how to examine and verify media including advertisements, photographs, Facebook, Twitter, news articles, and news websites

• a rubric to grade the presentations from the project

• a final quiz to assess what students have learned.

Get your students thinking about important questions such as:

—Why is it that when people are faced with evidence that disputes already held beliefs, they actually become more convinced that their beliefs are correct?

—Why do people make irrational decisions?

—Why are smart people often victims of fake news?

These plans are ready to go with minimal prep on your part. Engage your students with these innovative, challenging, and accessible lessons tomorrow.

These lessons have been updated four times since I first created this resource, and I will continue to update them so that they are relevant and fresh for your classes.

Total Pages
58 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
2 Weeks
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.


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