Reading the Web:
A website that has information about Australia that is clear, age appropriate (stage 3) and a good model for a lesson about note taking and reading online.
- Australia Facts
- The information on this website is easy to read and navigate because of its useful subheadings/hyperlinks and clear layout
- The text on the website is of an appropriate level for Stage 3 students
A short video (3 minutes or so) about Australia that is age appropriate (stage 3), which could also be used to model note taking using the visual and aural aspects.
- Native Animals of Australia
- This video could be used to teach students about Native Australian animals.
- The video is more likely to be educational and age appropriate because it is from the ABC Splash website.
A website that is poorly written (too long or complex) or has too little information or that only sells a product etc. about Australia to use as a contrast to the other sites in order to develop student’s analytical and critical skills.
- Fact Monster
- Students may find this website challenging to sift through as there is a lot of information and large paragraphs.
- A lot of the information on this website may also be irrelevant to students and their area of focus as a lot of it is political.
- There are no pictures or videos on this website (except for the Australian flag) which make the site quite bland.
Developing photography skills
Pakarklis (2013) suggests some handy tips for taking photos on an iPhone. The photos below demonstrate three effective ways a photo can be composed.
Rule of thirds-
I have purposefully placed the focus of the photo, the flowers, at one of the intersecting points in the rule of thirds. This creates a more balanced and natural image. As Pakarklis (2013) describes, the rule of thirds is more of a guideline, but when followed can produce visually pleasing compositions.
The archway in this photo leads the viewer to look directly down the pathway to the two people walking away from us. I decided to stand slightly off centre, because leading lines should not be perfectly horizontal or vertical (Pakarklis, 2013).
Keeping it simple-
This picture demonstrates that simple photos can sometimes be most effective. The low angle of the overbearing building against the bright blue sky creates a nice juxtaposition.
Social Media, News and Critical literacy
Criteria I use to decide whether a source of news or information is reliable-
- Who wrote the site? Are they an individual, a corporation? What are their credentials?
- What is the suffix in the domain name? As a general rule, .com is for commercial purposes, .gov is for government and .edu is educational.
- What is the purpose for the site? Are they selling a product? Do they have a reason for bias? Does the author use ‘loaded’ words?
- What is the quality of information on the site? Is the information timely? What other sites does the page link to? Is the text free of grammatical, spelling and typographical errors?
- Always look for additional resources to back up what the information is reporting on.
- Common sense matters!
Examples of unreliable sources of news and information:
- This is a fake news site
- It mimics the URL, design and logo of the actual news site abcnews.com
- This is a hoax website about the fabricated endangered Pacific Northwest tree octopus
- The FAQ page contains comical statements that proves the site is nothing but a prank
- Research on the author of the website (Lyle Zapato) further proves this.
- The Onion is an American satire news organisation
- The site uses humour to cover news stories that are both real and fictional
- Natural News is led by an individual, and thus could be written with bias
- The site promotes many dietary supplements and alternative medicines for a monetary profit
- The site has previously landed itself in controversy for spreading conspiracy theories and scientific fake news
Principles for students when reading online
When teaching my students about reading and researching online, I would be sure to reiterate that anyone can post anything on the internet, and therefore not everything we read can be believed. Cross checking facts and details is very important.
I would encourage students to check the credibility of the website they are choosing and check the validity of the author.
Moreover, students should learn to skim the website, look for key words and note the subheadings to see if the site will be useful for them and whether it will provide them with the information that they are searching for. This eliminates reading through unnecessary pages of information.
Critical media skills in the classroom
Frank Barter, a respected media educator from the USA has written an informative article that provides some advice for judging the reliability of news online and how to spot fake news.
Barter details that we need to keep in mind the construction of an online article when judging its reliability. In the classroom, this could be taught by getting students to highlight any loaded words, excessive punctuation, bias and/or typography errors in the article. An article written as fake news could also be compared with an article from a reputable news outlet, and a T chart could be constructed (as a class or in pairs) about the difference in structure and construction of the two articles.
A second tip that Barter explains is to be sceptical when first reading an article. This is something that teachers need to encourage in students. To do this, the difference between the ease of posting something online versus the hard work is takes to publish a book could be discussed. Students will learn that anybody can post something on the web, and so it is important to exercise skepticism until you have decided that it is a reliable source.
Lastly, to further teach critical literacy, teachers could print a variety of different news headlines onto a page. In pairs, students could judge whether they believe the headline is worth ‘clicking’ on, or if it already appears to be fake news. Students could use a traffic light system to colour code their responses (green = good to pursue, orange = exercise scepticism, red = obviously fake news).
Pakarklis, E. (2013). 11 composition tips for taking great photos with your iPhone. Retrieved March, 2017, from http://www.idownloadblog.com/2013/09/23/ composition-tips-great-photos-iphone/