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Opinion: Teachers can show students what is real news and what is not

Joe Servis (top), an advanced placement U.S. history teacher at Appomattox High School, lectures his students at the school in Appomattox, Virginia, April 1, 2015. AP Photo/Steve Helber

People don't ask people they don't know for information. Online, things are different. There, people read stories written by people they do not know all the time.

In 2016, Americans chose the next leader of the United States. People read news on the Internet about the people running for president. Some of these stories were true. Some of them were not true. Many people could not tell which was which. When websites have incorrect news, it is called "fake news."

Some Stories Lie

Fake news makes money. News websites get paid when they have more visits to the stories. More people visit the stories when they are interesting. Sometimes, people write stories that are fake just because people will read them. This way, the writers make money. It doesn't matter that the stories lie. It only matters that people click on them.

Hard To Tell The Difference

Fake news stories look just like real stories. Some readers cannot tell the difference between the two. Sometimes, people believe fake stories are true.

History teachers already know about this problem. T. Mills Kelly is a history teacher. He wanted to help students see how easy it is to believe fake information.

Kelly created a class called "Lying About the Past" in 2008. Students created fake websites about Edward Owens. Owens was a made-up fisherman who attacked boats in the 1870s. The fake stories students created looked just like real news. Students learned not to always trust what they read. It is not all true.

Ask The Right Questions

History class is a good place to teach students what is true and untrue. Asking the right questions helps. For example, who wrote the article? Where did they learn what they know? This way, readers can decide if the writing is trustworthy.

Everyone can write news on the Internet. Teachers need to show students what is true and what is not. This will help them stay away from fake stories. This helps us keep the United States strong. It protects our power as people.

Kevin M. Levin is a historian and educator in Boston, Massachusetts. He has written books about the Civil War. You can find him online at Civil War Memory and Twitter @kevinlevin.

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1
Anchor 4: Word Meaning & Choice

Read the selection from the introduction [paragraphs 1-2].

Many people could not tell which was which. When websites have incorrect news, it is called "fake news."

What do the words "fake news" mean in the sentence?

A

information that is not new

B

information that is not true

C

information that is not important

D

information that is not interesting

2
Anchor 4: Word Meaning & Choice

Read the sentence from the section "Ask The Right Questions."

This way, readers can decide if the writing is trustworthy.

Which word could replace "trustworthy" in the sentence above WITHOUT changing its meaning?

A

false

B

important

C

polite

D

truthful

3
Anchor 6: Point of View/Purpose

Which of the following BEST describes the author's point of view?

A

The author believes that people write fake news to entertain other people.

B

The author believes that the 2016 election was ruined because people trusted fake news.

C

The author believes that people should learn to tell if news is real or fake.

D

The author believes that students should learn the truth about history while they are in school.

4
Anchor 6: Point of View/Purpose

Which sentence from the article explains why T. Mills Kelly teaches his students about fake news?

A

Fake news makes money.

B

News websites get paid when they have more visits to the stories.

C

Fake news stories look just like real stories.

D

History teachers already know about this problem.

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