Fact or fiction: Project sharpens F-M students’ media literacy skills

With so much (mis)information a click away, several Eagle Hill Middle School students have been focusing on how to discern fact from fiction when consuming news online.

This fall, a group of Fayetteville-Manlius eighth graders participated in a media literacy project that teaches students how to evaluate online news accuracy before they trust, share or act on the information. The project combines ELA and social studies principles and empowers students to become fact-finding web detectives, according to eighth grade teacher Mary Kathryn Lonergan.

“When it comes to online resources, students often wonder what to believe and how to spot fake news,” Lonergan said. “This project-based inquiry unit teaches them how to identify differences between objective, sponsored and false content.”

In addition to the unit’s classroom discussions and coursework, students could access the online learning platform, Checkology to increase their understanding of today’s ever-changing media and digital landscape. The interactive program, which is supported by The News Literacy Project, features real-world news examples, verification tools and guided information from journalists and other media experts.

For the unit’s final project, students transformed into either investigative journalists or advertising gurus. They each researched a controversial topic of their choice and unveiled their findings to school peers during a special walk-through gallery. Depending on their chosen role, students tried to sway beliefs or objectively inform their peers about a specific topic.

“Students really embraced not only this project, but the chance to teach others what they had learned,” Lonergan said.

The photos below were captured in October during Eagle Hill Middle School’s eighth-grade presentation on news literacy.

  • This is an image of a computer