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Understanding fake news


Students will explore the concept of fake news by conducting research and creating a visual that explains what fake news is, demonstrates examples and provides solutions.


  • Students will conduct research and integrate multiple sources of information.
  • Students will evaluate the credibility and accuracy of each source.
  • Students will cite textual evidence to support analysis.


Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.2.A Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables) and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.2.B Develop the topic with well-chosen, relevant and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1.A Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.


165 minutes



Article: “How to Spot Fake News”

Article: “Fake News on Facebook is a Real Problem … “

Article: “Fake or Real? How to Self-Check the News and Get the Facts”

Rubric: Understanding Fake News Poster

Slideshows for optional review: Dissecting Design, Infographics

Computers with internet access

Posterboard or butcher paper (one sheet per group)

Markers or colored pencils


Lesson step-by-step

1. Introduction — 5 minutes

As a warm-up, show students two different stories using a projector and screen. Ask them to vote for which story is real and which is fake. If possible, try this with several stories in a row without providing any context. (If you are unable to find examples ahead of time, substitute this warm-up with an informal poll about where students get their news or invite students to do a quick free-write to explore individually what they know or think they know about the concept of fake news.

2. Read and discuss — 20 minutes

Assign students to read one of the three suggested articles about fake news. Consider adding other articles for more current examples or to match the reading level of your students specifically.

Divide students into small groups to discuss these key questions:

  • What is fake news? Come up with a common definition that fully explains and captures the concept.
  • Why is fake news a problem? In what ways is it affecting society?

3. Research — 30 minutes

In groups, students will conduct research on the internet and find at least two specific examples of fake news. Assign them to take notes on the following:

  • Who did it affect?
  • What was it?
  • Why did it “work”?
  • Where did it happen, and/or where was it found?
  • Why does it matter, and/or why did it happen?

During the research phase, guide students to generate questions/ideas for a class discussion on the topic of fake news.

4. Socratic seminar — 30 minutes

Guide students in Socratic seminar by asking open-ended questions. As students use their research findings and notes from the earlier group discussion, they will also need to listen closely to their peers’ comments. As they respond to each other, students should continue making notes during the discussion.

  • How do we break the bubble for ourselves and others?
  • How do we solve this problem?
  • How can we, as consumers and producers of media, change other people’s mindset on this topic?

5. Application — 60 minutes

In groups of three or four, students will create an infographic poster that answers the who, what, where, when and why about fake news (Who does it affect? What is it? Where does it happen/Where is it found? Why does it matter/Why does it happen?). The poster should provide two examples of fake news and a 5-10 step process for how students can avoid it. All sources must be cited by placing the website name in parentheses after each fact.

Consider using materials from the design curriculum (such as using the slideshows linked above) to review key concepts before students get started.

6. Presentation — 20 minutes

To close, call on each group to share their completed posters. Consider hanging them on the white board for a gallery walk so students can offer feedback and/or vote for which poster is best, followed by a short discussion about why. This provides an opportunity for closure and a chance to reinforce any concepts students may have missed.



For students who need additional support, modify the poster assignment by requiring just one example of fake news and a shorter (such as five-step) process for how peers can avoid it.

As an extension activity, advanced students can write a reflection after the Socratic seminar.

Depending on the computer/software situation and students’ experience with design tools, the poster component also could be completed digitally, either with graphic design software like Adobe Photoshop, or with a web-based program like Piktochart.