In the last two days, an English teacher at Adams Central has been preparing students for a pre-ACT writing prompt. In the course of these discussions, students were to write a persuasive essay, including a counter argument. The counter argument, necessary for a good persuasive essay, requires that we listen to and read about other people's opinions. Sometimes this can be introduced on the internet or by another person, which does not always mean it is factual.
During this time, students were allowed to bring in outside material as examples and discussion items of how “fake news” can be taken out of context. This led to many discussions about what is real or not, and what is opinion and what is factual. The bottom line is: Do you or should you believe everything you read....what is the source of the information? Is it reliable? If you see something and you want to say something, feel free to do so. In fact, you should do so. Students were to further research the information which goes along with the writing prompt and decide for themselves what to believe and to be able to defend their beliefs with evidence, statistics, and anecdotes.
As part of the lesson, a student brought in a flyer about gun violence. The flyer depicted ways in which the Republican Party is supposedly similar to the Nazi Party. The flyer was posted in the classroom for students to apply critical analysis using the ACT rubric. Meaning, students were to assess whether the message in the flyer was reliable or "fake news."
Unfortunately, commentators on social media have jumped to the conclusion that the teacher and the school district agree with the flyer's message. That is false. The lesson was intended to develop students' ability to distinguish reliable viewpoints from unreliable viewpoints. Based on some of the comments we have received, it appears this is a skill worth developing.