What does it mean to be literate? Well to a lot of people, especially older generations, being literate means being able to read and write. Now being literate means so much more.
To be literate in today’s world students need to be able to be able to do more than read and write to be literate . Literate individuals need to be able to understand not only what they read, but also what they see and hear, and add media literacy to their bag of understanding.
In my video on media literacy, I explain that media includes a variety of forms such as books, TV, social media, and text messages. Common Sense Media explains that “media literacy is the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they’re sending.” Just like being able to read and write, students need to be taught how to be media literate.
An important part of this is being skeptical, not believing, everything we read, see or hear. Sometimes the messages that media is trying to send may be bias or even incorrect. Students need to be able to be critical and evaluate whether they can trust the message and/or author of the message. An example of this is the “North American House Hippo” video created by Concerned Children’s Advertisers Canada to bring awareness to the importance of being skeptical. If you haven’t seen this video, or if you want to relive wanting to own a house hippo, check out the video below.
The North American House Hippo
Students need to be able to disifer between truth and fiction, which in today’s society often means deciding if it’s “FAKE NEWS!”
It’s not just youth that struggle to figure out if something is fake. In Kyle’s video he shares an example of people spreading fake news about a “beer bandit” in Nova Scotia. This “news” was posted to Facebook and it quickly spread, so much so a song was even written about it. It turns out that the story was completely false, confirmed by the original author of the post. Luckily in this case it just turned into a wild ridiculous rumour, however sometimes the belief in the untrue can lead to darker consequences. In Jamie and Jocelyn’s video they discuss the importance of fact checking in a fake news world. They talk about a man who shot a gun into a pizza parlour after reading a fake new article. Instead of doing some digging and fact checking the article he read he believed what he read and chose to make a terrible decision.
If adults can’t figure out fake news than how can we expect youth to be able to? Adults did not grow up with such wide spread examples of fake news to have to deal with, so many are needing to learn to be more critical as adults. This is why it is vital to teach students how to be skeptical and become fact checking detectives. One strategy to help students with evaluating is “The Five C’s of Critical Consuming” shared by John Spencer:
Context – When and where is it written? Have events changed or new info available?
Credibility – Is the site credible? Are the sources cited credible? Is it satirical? Is it an advertisement?
Construction – What’s the bias, facts, opinions, propaganda?
Corroboration – Do other sources claim this too?
Compare – Find other credible sources to compare it to get a larger more rounded picture of the information.