Visual: White screen with the Elections Canada logo in the bottom right corner. An animated pink line moves across the screen and turns into an X. The X turns sideways, splits and disappears from view. The title, Teaching Digital Skills for Democracy appears on a white background.
Visual: Live action begins with a medium shot of a woman standing behind a table speaking directly to the camera. On the table are activity cards and a teacher’s guide booklet.
Rachel: Hi, my name is Rachel Collishaw. I’m a teacher and education specialist at Elections Canada. In this video, I’ll be showing you how you can teach “Digital Skills for Democracy.”
Visual: The screen splits in two. Rachel is on the right side. On the left side appears the first page of the lesson, as described by Rachel.
Rachel: How can we find out if information about elections or political issues is something we can trust? That’s the inquiry question that students explore in Digital Skills for Democracy. They work together to use five digital strategies to figure out if they have trustworthy information on a political or electoral issue.
Visual: The left side changes to display a handout titled “Five Digital Strategies.” The strategies outlined on the handout are: find the original, verify the source, check other information, read fact-checking articles, and turn to places you trust.
Rachel: One of the really great things about this lesson is that students learn online skills in a totally offline way.
Visual: The left side displays a photo of activity cards scattered on a table.
Rachel: We start with the Minds On, the first part of the three-part lesson structure that guides all of our activities. These first 5 minutes help students to connect their own experiences to the big idea of the lesson.
Visual: The left side displays the “minds on” section of the teacher’s guide, as described by Rachel.
Rachel: In this Minds On, we start with a list of statements, and we ask students to say if they think they are true or false. Students can work individually, or read them aloud together. If you read them aloud, make sure you say each fact with a sense of authority and truth.
Visual: The left side displays a handout titled “True or False?” The handout includes several statements, such as “Shakespeare invented the name Jessica,” and, “hippo milk is blue.” Next to each statement are check boxes marked “true” or “false.”
Rachel: Don’t worry, the Teacher’s Guide has the answers! They are tricky on purpose!
Visual: The left side displays the “instruction” page of the teacher’s guide, which includes the answers to each of the statements with an “x” or a checkmark. The statement, “Shakespeare invented the name Jessica” is marked as true. The statement “hippo milk is blue” indicates false; hippo milk is pink.
Rachel: Ask your students how well they did at guessing? Was there any way to tell the true facts from the false ones? Sometimes doing more research is the only way to know whether something is trustworthy, especially online.
You can introduce these two terms to help students understand different kinds of false information online, especially in social media.
Visual: The left side displays the definitions for misinformation and disinformation. Misinformation is defined as when people share something they think is true but isn’t. Disinformation is defined as when people share false or misleading information on purpose.
Rachel: The difference is really about intent. Did the person sharing intend to share false information, or did they just not do their research? I don’t know about your students, but mine are not always super- excited about research.
This lesson is going to show them five simple ways to avoid being tricked by false and misleading information online, and they will be able to use these strategies right away in their online world.
Visual: The handout entitled “Five Digital Strategies” is shown again.
Rachel: To start, organize your students into small groups and make sure every group has a copy of the graphic organizer to record their thinking. You’ll want to have a graphic organizer copied on both sides of the handout for the two rounds of the activity. You will be doing two rounds of fact-checking scenarios: one set is fictional, the other deals with real-life situations.
Visual: The left side displays an activity sheet called “Graphic organizer: Record your thinking.” On it are blank spaces for students to record their answers. The graphics change to display 5 small cards fanned out on top of the graphic organizer, each with a different title. The titles are: Prime minister scenario; Protest scenario; University scenario; Weather scenario; Wolves scenario. The graphics change again to display 5 larger cards, each with a different title. The titles are: Bridge scenario; Delay scenario; Flag scenario; Selfie scenario; Texting scenario.
Rachel: We’ll start with round one. Each group will get their own fact-checking scenario to investigate. When you order the kit, you’ll get enough for one classroom working in small groups.
Visual: The larger cards disappear to display only the Graphic organizer and smaller scenario cards.
Rachel: If you need more materials, everything is also available to download and print from our website.
Visual: The left side of the screen changes to display a web page, featuring PDF and online versions of the teacher’s guide and scenario cards. The URL electionsanddemocracy.ca is displayed at the bottom of the screen.
Rachel: Students read the cards aloud one at a time, and record on the graphic organizer how trustworthy they think the information is, starting with the Scenario Card (A).
Visual: Card A from the Wolves Scenario is displayed on the left side of the screen. It is replaced by the Graphic Organizer. In real time, the handout is filled in to indicate a trustworthiness ranking of 1 out 5. Beside this is written the explanation, “because memes are not trustworthy sources.”
Rachel: Next, students read cards B, C and D which show an example of how you can use one of the five digital strategies to find out more. The strategy is on the front, and the steps you could take online are on the back.
Visual: The fronts and backs of cards B through D are displayed. On the front of the cards, three different strategies are shown: find the original, check other information, and verify the source, respectively.
Rachel: You can give each group one card at a time - they are labeled A through E to help you stay organized. Or you can assign one student to be the card-master, who is responsible for flipping the cards once the thinking is done at each stage. You can assign the other students to be a reader, scribe or reporter. You know what strategy will work best with your students.
However you give out the cards, students need to track their thinking on the graphic organizer. They are always thinking about the initial scenario and how the new information might change their understanding of its trustworthiness.
Visual: A photograph of a completed graphic organizer is shown on the left side of the screen. On it, the student has changed their trustworthiness ranking several times as they progress from Card A to Card E, and has explained their thinking along the way.
Rachel: Once they’ve read all the “clues,” then they can read aloud the Answer card. Their final conclusion is not that important, but we do want them to share how they got there and to focus on the decision-making processes using the Five Digital Strategies.
Some groups might finish before others. You can extend their thinking by asking some more questions. Have each group read their scenario aloud to the class and share.
Visual: Two bullet points are displayed on the left side of the screen. They read: Your final trustworthiness ranking and why; Which strategy was the most helpful.
Rachel: To help you guide the discussion, we made a teacher summary of all of the scenarios and strategies used.
Visual: The left side of the screen displays a handout called Teacher Summary. It includes two columns: one summarizing each of the scenarios, and the second with bullet points of each of the strategies used.
Rachel: The scenarios in round one are imaginary, but realistic. They were drawn from real life to better introduce the five digital strategies. In round two, we used real-life examples. It works just like the first, but the cards are a little bigger, and we’ve included visuals from real life. As an extension, your students can actually look up all of these scenarios to find out more about them.
Visual: The left side of the screen displays the fronts and backs of the round 2 scenario cards. On the back are images from various online sources.
Rachel: At the end of round two, have students again read their scenario aloud, give their final trustworthiness ranking and share which strategy they found the most helpful. Just like in round one, some students might finish before others, and you can extend their thinking with the consolidation questions to keep them engaged.
Visual: The consolidation section of the teacher’s guide is displayed. The graphics zoom in to three engagement questions: What do you think is the best way to respond to false or misleading information online? What surprised you the most about the activity? How do you think misinformation and disinformation could affect our elections?
Rachel: Give students a few minutes in their group to discuss these questions before sharing back. If you designated a reporter, they should share some of the group’s thoughts with the class. It’s important to have students discuss their ideas in their small group first; this is where the important learning conversations happen and it gives all students the chance to be heard. They might not need to use all five strategies all of the time. One is usually enough when they know a trustworthy source like Elections Canada. This is also a great chance to make sure that all students know that liking and sharing false and misleading information can make the problem worse, and that it’s especially important to be aware during an election period.
Lastly, the lesson concludes with an exit card so that students can think about what they’ve learned, and you can see what they might need to learn next.
Visual: An exit card is displayed on the left side of the screen. It includes the following three questions, and blank spaces below for student responses: One thing I learned was…; The next time I want to find out if something online is true, I will…; To be an engaged and informed citizen in a democracy, it’s important to….
Rachel: You might have noticed that many of our exit cards are written in sentence stems. This is more invitational than a question and can help reluctant writers engage. It’s also a really effective strategy to support the language learners in your classroom.
I think one of the greatest things about this lesson, is that it engages students in totally offline, face-to-face conversations about their thinking to prepare them effectively to engage more thoughtfully in their online communities.
More of the scenarios are more trustworthy than not. This is because research shows that younger people tend to be too skeptical and not trust anything. By giving them concrete strategies and real-life examples, you can show your future voters that there are trustworthy sources of information, like Elections Canada. And that there are ways that they can find out what’s really going on online.
We want to know if your students liked the activity. Share your experience and photos on our Twitter and Facebook accounts!
Visual: The screen fades to white and a clip art image of a student in a graduation cap is set against a pink circle. A speech bubble appears above the head of the student and a red heart appears in the speech bubble. The Facebook and Twitter logos appear on screen with the handle @democracyCA.