5 Good Resources to Help Students Become Discerning Media Consumers

Too often today scrolling through social media headlines or watching short video clips is what passes for “catching up on the news.” As we know, if reading social headlines or watching video clips is the only way students consume news, they can quickly get a warped sense of what’s true and what’s not true. If you’re concerned about helping students become discerning media consumers, here are five good resources to consider using.

Civic Online Reasoning

Civic Online Reasoning is a free resource from the Stanford History Education Group. Currently, Civic Online Reasoning offers twenty activity plans that you can download and or access as Google Docs when you register for a free account on the Stanford History Education Group’s website. The activities include templates for building lessons on evaluating social media claims, evaluating a website’s reliability, researching claims made on social media (and other places), and comparing evidence from multiple sites. This fall Civic Online Reasoning will have additional lesson plans available for free.


Factitious is a game for testing your skill at identifying fake and misleading news stories. The game was developed by the American University Game Lab and the American University’s School of Communication. To play Factitious simply go to the site and select quick start. You’ll then see an article appear on the screen. Read through the article, click the source listed at the bottom, and then select either the green check mark or red X to indicate whether or not you think the article is a real news story. After you make your selection you’ll get instant feedback and an explanation of how you can tell if the article was a real or fake news story.


Checkology is a service that is designed to help students develop those skills. Checkology’s free version offers four interactive modules for students to complete. Each of the modules is comprised of between twenty and forty-seven instructional video clips and interactive comprehension checks. The four modules are titled Info Zones, Democracy’s Watchdog, Practicing Quality Journalism, and Misinformation. As you might expect, the contents of the modules gets progressively more difficult as each section is completed.

Can You Spot the Problem With These Headlines?

Can You Spot the Problem With These Headlines? is a TED-Ed lesson. The short video lesson walks students through dissecting a couple of hypothetical news headlines. By watching the video students can begin to understand how headlines are written to entice readers and how misleading headlines are created.

This Weird Trick Will Help You Spot Clickbait

This One Weird Trick Will Help You Spot Clickbait is another TED-Ed video that teaches viewers how headlines are created to entice readers to click on an article. The video also explains how a small kernel of truth or a small and inconclusive study will be manipulated to create an article and clickbait headline.

Some of this article originally appeared on my other site, FreeTech4Teachers.com