Read the full article at Edutopia

It’s news that’s all too real: We’re drowning in a stream of misinformation.
A fundamental problem, says Sam Wineburg, a professor of education at Stanford, is that typical approaches to teaching information literacy are often outdated.
“We learn to think critically by paying close attention and reading thoroughly from top to bottom, thinking very carefully about what we’re reading,” says Wineburg.
But poring over a text with a fine-toothed comb from start to finish is time-consuming and inefficient, and few readers are knowledgeable enough to suss out factual errors.
Instead, Wineburg offers a simple, teachable strategy, that moves laterally rather than vertically, opening multiple browser tabs to validate claims and checking who is behind a site before continuing to read the initial page. Cross-check information across many sites to get a second—or even a third, fourth, and fifth—opinion.

Learn a new way to navigate the web

At the heart of lateral reading is the idea that a single source of information should always be read with a critical eye. Instead of taking an article at face value, we should take a step back, says Wineburg, and think about the information it contains as part of a broader ecosystem of both reliable and unreliable sources.

Five tips for setting kids up to succeed

1. Guide students with probing questions.
Ask students to answer three key questions when assessing the credibility of a website:
  • Who is behind the information? Students should investigate the people making the claims and how their motives could influence what is presented and suppressed.
  • What is the actual evidence for the claim? Claims often appear to be scientific or based on evidence; when students gather and assess the actual evidence, does it still add up?
  • What do other sources say? Students should corroborate claims and verify information with other sources, such as experts, scholarly journals, and reputable news sites.
2. It’s OK to use Wikipedia.
Students are often told, “Don’t go to Wikipedia,” says Wineburg. Yet “one of the first things fact-checkers did was go to Wikipedia and use it as a jumping-off point, as a portal to more authoritative sources,” he says.
3. Work on productive skimming.
“You don’t have to read everything on a particular website to make a decision,” says Wineburg. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to spot misinformation using the original source’s claim. Instead, get a quick sense of the content by scanning the page, and then do a Google search and open more sites to see if the information is supported by other sources. Come back to your original page for deeper reading after assessing the claims more broadly.
4. Don’t be fooled by appearances.
Slick websites are attainable and affordable. Just because a site looks professional doesn’t mean it’s trustworthy.
5. Create a list of go-to sources.
Develop a roster of reputable, go-to sites—trusted resources from across the political spectrum from The Wall Street Journal to The New York Times, government agencies such as the FDA and the EPA, and independent research organizations like the National Science Foundation and NASA, for example.
Talk about bad-faith outliers on both sides of the political divide, like Daily Kos and Breitbart News, and explain why relying on reputable, well-established publications is a critical part of smart media literacy.
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