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Education Trends, Equity Resources, Teaching Tips & Tricks, Podcast Articles   |   Mar 7, 2021

10 tips for teaching critical thinking + information literacy

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

10 tips for teaching critical thinking + information literacy

By Angela Watson

The Truth for Teachers podcast is doing a two-part series about media literacy this season.

Back in episode 216, I spoke with Peter Adams of the News Literacy Project about how educators can be informed media consumers and advocates for truth.

That episode helped lay the groundwork for this one: while Peter shared some great free resources and tools to be used with students, I asked him to focus primarily on what teachers themselves need to know. We can’t teach skills to students if we don’t have those skills ourselves.

Now we’re ready to do a deeper exploration into how we can support students in information literacy. I’m speaking with Jennifer LaGarde and Darren Hudgins. They are co-authors of the book Fact vs. Fiction: Teaching Critical Thinking In the Age of Fake News, and also a new book coming out in July 2021 called Developing Digital Detectives.

Jennifer, Darren, and I will talk a bit about big picture issues, like making time for instruction on digital literacy, and how to teach kids to think critically about conspiracy theories when those conspiracy theories are widely believed among the community you teach in. But we’ll spend the vast majority of our time talking about specific, practical things you can do with your students right now to help them be smart media consumers.

Check out the recap/big ideas here, or read the complete edited transcript below.

Recap and Big Ideas

  1. Teach thematically and help kids make connections between topics/subjects. We have to build mental models, like inquiry-based learning routines, that can help students compare and contrast defining current events like a civil or social justice or cultural revolution with similar events that happened in the past. It should urge them to think, “Wait, what I am seeing? Does this have credibility to it?” Or, “Why are they showing me this?”
  2. Use mobile devices — not just computers — when having kids analyze information. This is important because when looking for credibility markers, sources, or publishing dates, different steps are required on a mobile device than it does on a laptop or a desktop. We have to bridge between how they look for credibility on the devices at school and the devices at home.
  3. Create learning environments that value questioning, not just finding the right answer. As teachers, we have to guide kids in the practice of focusing more on the kinds of questions that will lead them to a conclusion, as opposed to here’s the answer key, here are the right answers.
  4. Guide students to understand their brains and examine bias/assumptions. Students need to be able to understand how information that is sent to them from different sources affects assumptions. They should be able to examine biases that they have had from the past and connect them to what they see now in the present.
  5. Move from a checklist approach to an investigative approach for fact-checking. Digital investigations have to be inspired by clues and driven by curiosity. There are four lenses through which students can view what they are investigating: trigger, access, forensics, and motives. We need to teach kids to focus more on the information itself: how it’s created, how we’re accessing it, etc.
  6. Teach kids to be specific about the falsehood rather than claiming “fake news”. The term fake news is toxic because it has become a way to disparage any information or discredit a source that shares information that doesn’t coincide or align with their view. Instead, kids must learn to be specific about the misinformation and name the problem.
  7. Illuminate the people behind the information that’s shared. Understanding the psyche of potential bad actors is an important step because it helps them recognize their behavior and sharpens empathy skills. By understanding them, kids can take actions that are more positive than the ones bad actors are hoping they take. We want kids to think about how sharing false content affects their identity, how others view them and their own credibility in the world.
  8. Help kids analyze information not only in long-form articles, but also in the mediums they frequently consume, such as video, memes, and social media images. By legitimizing mediums they consume like memes, YouTube, or Wikipedia, we teach them that these sources of information are also worth scrutiny.
  9. Teach kids HOW to think, not WHAT to think. Give students opportunities to put information into some sort of a mystery or journey where they have to parse credibility.
  10. Remember that information literacy is a human problem, and even small steps to tackle it are worthwhile. Understanding that this is a human problem is empowering in that we hold the solutions within us. We have to be better and smarter about managing human behavior to solve these problems.

Listen to the audio below, 

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Tip #1: Teach thematically and help kids make connections between topics/subjects

ANGELA: I wonder what you would say to listeners who are wondering, “Are parents actually entrusting us with this? Are my colleagues and I really equipped for this? Do we even have time to do this with all the curriculum we’re expected to teach?” I think these are overlapping objections. Some teachers may hold all of them, some may just hold one or two. I’m wondering if you can address some of these issues here upfront about and talk about whether this is really the role of schools, and how we are making sure educators are equipped for it.

DARREN: I’m going to start at the big level and try to work down because it’s a complex problem, for sure. One of the questions we’re asking is, “What is education? What is school for?”

The expectations of our complex and modern society today have shifted. Schools have to make a decision if they want to create knowledge-based factory workers who show up on time, don’t really think, just pass on that, “I do a root thing and move it to the next person” — which is also easier to test, by the way, multiple-choice, that kind of thing — or if they want to create active humans in a world that wants to engage, that can critically think, that actually have an inquiry mental model, like a routine in their head.

That when students are put into a situation with whatever subject — math, science, media, literacy, social studies, we could go even down to the importance of physical activity and play — they need to be able to mentally think about that. We have to make a decision locally, do we keep these subjects in silos? Or do we start to have that glue that embeds these things together, that adds that social emotional piece — how my brain works and how I learn and what triggers me — we have to first make that decision.

Because then I think this whole “what I have to teach and I only have so much time to do it” changes how you do that. An example that I give all the time is when I was a social studies teacher, I never got past the 1980s. I would teach all this stuff and it was like the 1980s to today never existed because I had to get through everything.

If I had to go back and do it all over again, I would teach it thematically. I would have done it completely differently, not chronologically. I would have said, “Okay, what are themes that we can understand?” How can we build mental models to then look at when we run into a situation where you’re having a civil or social justice or cultural revolution, what can you look at in history that you can compare and contrast that? What are the similarities? What are the differences? How does it rise? How does it deescalate? Those kinds of things.

They have to be able to process and think, “Wait, what I am seeing? Does this have credibility to it?” Or, “Why are they showing me this?”

Tip #2: Use mobile devices — not just computers — when having kids analyze information

ANGELA: I know that your new book that’s going to be coming out soon is about helping students develop into what you call “digital detectives.” I absolutely love that phrase. I want to get into some specific examples about what teachers can do. I would love for you to share some types of regular practices and routines that educators can begin to help kids think critically on a daily basis about what they’re reading and learning.

JENNIFER: I’ve got two that just come to mind very quickly. For me, one is more practical and I think the other is philosophical. One really easy thing that educators can do to move information literacy practice forward is to intentionally and regularly include mobile devices in how they teach information literacy.

As Darren alluded to, the vast majority of people in the world get news now and infer all information through a mobile device, not from a laptop or a desktop. Those numbers skew much higher the younger our students are.

We know that kids as young as fifth grade, well, over half of them own their own smartphone according to Common Sense Media. These are the tools through which kids access information. Yet at school, when we teach information literacy, we do it on a desktop and a laptop.

That’s problematic for a number of reasons. One, the most glaring one is that looking for credibility markers, even looking for the source or when something was published versus when it was posted, requires different steps on a mobile device than it does on a laptop or a desktop.

If we are asking kids to look for specific markers of credibility, we have to build bridges between how they do that on the devices at school versus the devices at home. Otherwise, we really don’t have any hope of them applying these skills when they’re not in the building when frankly, the research has higher stakes. Parsing credibility for an assignment may have the stake of a grade, but parsing credibility out in the real world when you’re making decisions about your health, about your relationships, based on the information you’re consuming, those stakes are much, much higher.

Just including mobile devices, even if your school culture is such that kids are required to put their devices away during the school day, even having a center or a station that utilizes mobile devices as part of the information literacy lesson and then having kids compare and contrast those steps or even putting your own phone under the document camera, so that you can have kids walk you through how you might locate that same information on a TikTok video versus one on YouTube in your browser.

Having kids see that these skills apply in the world that they actually access information in is an important practical step and frankly, pretty easy. Once you make the case for it in your school, you don’t have to get everyone access to a mobile device. You don’t have to allow kids to have their devices out all the time. There are ways to do it in a more controlled way, if that’s what the culture of your school is. That’s the really practical thing that I think teachers can do right away.

Tip #3: Create learning environments that value questioning, not just finding the right answer

JENNIFER: The other is a shift that piggybacks on what Darren said, but I think is really critical. That is if we’re going to create digital detectives in the future, then we have to create learning environments that ask kids to value questioning as opposed to finding the right answer. Our new book consists of cases for kids to solve, since our theme is around digital detective work. We’ve been really intentional about making sure that very few of those cases have a single static right answer. Rather, we ask kids to think about information in terms of whether or not it can be trusted enough for them to take action.

That action can be as simple as liking it, tapping the like button, or it might be tapping the share or tapping the follow button. That’s an action and an endorsement that we take of information if we feel that it’s trustworthy. Or that action can be as serious as making decisions about our relationships, about our health, about our citizenship. We make decisions based on information. What we ask kids to do is to stop thinking about information in a binary of true or false. Rather, think about it in a more holistic way about whether or not it’s trustworthy enough to act on.

As teachers, we have to then help guide kids in the practice of focusing more on the kinds of questions that will lead them to those determinations, as opposed to here’s the answer key, here are the right answers. That’s what your goal is. That’s a harder shift, because it is a movement away from the standardization that guide so much of education now. I feel like it’s absolutely critical if we really have any chance of tackling this problem.

Tip #4: Guide students to understand their brains and examine bias/assumptions

DARREN: From day one, kindergarten all the way up, we’ve got to start helping kids understand how their brain works and overcoming their own biases. Because those biases are getting created at very young ages, even on the playground. You’re good. You’re bad. You’re this. You’re that.

We’re doing this online. We’re creating caricatures of each other. We’re making assumptions, all those kinds of things. If we can begin to help kids understand the difference between, “Okay, what is the factual news thing and then what is an opinion, or what is somebody’s hot buttons, and then how do you explain what those are?” I know in some schools, they’ve even got it down to, “I have an upper brain and I have a lower brain. My upper brain is the rational side and my lower brain is much more of that reptilian brain, fight or flight, and those kinds of things.” And then begin to talk through, “How am I forming these biases, where are they coming from? What am I doing?”

A digital detective goes into an environment that is not always predictable. It gets sent to them, it gets shared by a friend, it gets shared by a stranger. They see it on TV randomly. They’re just warped into this space. They need to be able to understand, “What is this doing to me?”

This is no different than a regular detective that goes into a crime scene, didn’t know that crime was going to happen at that moment. They take the biases that they have from the past and they connect them to what they see now in the present. Then they’re able to critically think and synthesize through those. If we can start them thinking about that at a young age, I think those mental routines will help them going forward, especially in the things that Jennifer spoke about.

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Tip #5: Move from a checklist approach to an investigative approach for fact-checking

JENNIFER: One of the things that is a big focus of this next book is the idea of moving kids away from a checklist, or seek and find an approach to information literacy, and more towards what we call investigations. One of the images that we use in the book over and over again is the idea of that detective board, with all the pieces and the clues on the board, and that they are linked together with string, etc.

Investigations of information have to be inspired by clues and driven by curiosity. In order to help prime that process for learners, we’ve created what we call these four lenses that we encourage and all of our lessons revolve around, where we’re asking kids to look at information through these four detective lenses.

The 4 detective lenses for digital investigations: 

#1: The trigger lens

The first one is the triggers lens, the idea of thinking, “How does this information make me feel? If it doesn’t trigger an emotion for me, can I see where it might be designed to trigger an emotion to someone else? It might not trigger me, but would it trigger someone else?” Then those become red flags. If we can see that yes, this information wants me to feel angry or it wants me to feel smarter than other people, or it wants me to dislike a certain group, that’s a red flag. We stick that red flag up on the investigation board.

#2: The access lens

The second lens we call access, which is related to the device that we are accessing the information on. The question there for learners is does this device affect my ability to determine the credibility or look or find the credibility markers that my teacher is asking me to look for? Second, are there things built into this device that makes it really easy for me to act on it without thinking? (Really easy for me to tap on, double click the like, or double click the share.)

Or does this device also give me access to all of the comments other people are making and all the like and share counts which might influence whether or not I’m going to act on it. Those are our first two lenses, the triggers and the access.

#3: The forensics lens

The third lens we call forensics and has to do with those digital clues about the source, about when it was posted, etc. They’re like the digital fingerprints that have always been a part of information literacy, but that taken separately in isolation are not enough to really parse credibility.

#4: The motives lens

Then the last lens we call motives, which has to do with getting into the mind of the potential suspect. We want kids to utilize all four lenses to then drive their investigation. No single lens is a one and done answer to whether or not something can be trusted. Rather, the idea of the lens is it’s like those old-timey x-ray vision or even 3D glasses where you put it on and you might be able to see something that you don’t see otherwise. We want kids of all ages to look through those lenses and spot those red flags. Then let those red flags drive their investigation.

When we think about focusing more on the information itself, how it’s created, how we’re accessing it, etc., then we can help both kids and their teachers and their parents and our communities think like a fact checker, applying it to all sorts of information as opposed to discussing or debating specific issues that may be rooted in deeply held value systems that feel like an attack. If you say we’re going to be talking about fake news and we’re going to address this, this, and this, rather than laying those landmines that can start things off in an adversarial way.

If we can develop trust with our communities around the shared goal of wanting us all to think like a fact-checker and to be a digital detective, I think we have a lot more success of not only creating really meaningful lessons for kids, but also affecting the information literacy skills of our entire community, as opposed to just the kids who are sitting in front of us.

Tip #6: Teach kids to be specific about the falsehood rather than claiming “fake news”

ANGELA: I’m really looking forward to checking out your “Digital Detectives” book when it comes out. I do also recommend your first book, which is called Fact Vs. Fiction: Teaching Critical Thinking Skills in the Age of Fake News. I know that your thinking has evolved since that time. 

One of the interesting things that I’ve noticed in our conversations is that you intentionally avoid the phrase fake news. I know in your second book, you do not use that phrase. Can you speak to why that is? 

DARREN: In the first book, we quoted a journalist who we both admire greatly, Tim Dickinson, who writes for Rolling Stone, who actually tweeted something that was a big inspiration to us. He tweeted to his followers that he implored them to stop using the term fake news. Rather, he challenged people to be more specific rather than saying fake news, which he found to be lazy. He said, “Name what the problem is. Is it conspiracy theory? Is it the data has been manipulated? Is it propaganda? Be more specific.”

We took that and ran with it with his permission in the first book, as a way to help both adults and younger learners talk about misinformation and have conversations about information that is problematic rather than calling something fake news. If we talk about the things that are actually wrong with it, then that might help us have deeper, more positive productive conversations. We still agree with all of that.

Also, in the years that followed that book, what we have found simply, to be blunt, is that the term fake news is toxic, from leaders at the highest level, not only in our country, but around the world have just used it as a way to very easily disparage any information or discredit any person or entity that shares information that doesn’t coincide or align with their view. If it doesn’t make me look right, then it must be fake news. That is what it’s been used on an international stage.

What we have found in our work is that, of course, this trickles down to families and to our kids who hear it being used in the same way. Rather than try to reclaim that term, we’ve just moved away from it.

In our second book, we actually discussed that in the very first chapter, and that we never use the term again throughout the entire book just because we feel like it’s not helpful.

Tip #7: Illuminate the people behind the information that’s shared 

JENNIFER: How do you help kids identify and understand bad actors? Actually, that’s one of my very favorite parts of our second book, in which we have created an entire list of what we call suspects. It gives me such joy to even think about it because we’ve created these mug shots and suspect profiles.

At this point, we have about 25 of these characters who have different motivations, who use different tools and tactics, who when if we take certain actions and then lose if we take other actions. For kids, all the way, elementary school through high school, we’ve created basically a variety of games and activities that kids can play with this deck of cards, this suspect cards that we’ve created.

Everything from doing a lineup to, if this information is false, then let’s do a lineup and think about which one of these suspects is most likely to have created it, to thinking about themselves and their identity as an information creator and sharer. Have they ever fallen into the trap of being one of these suspects by either unintentionally or intentionally driven by an emotion, sharing content that turned out to be false?

Getting into the mind of potential bad actors, we feel like it’s an important step because not only does it help you recognize their behavior, but also it sharpens your empathy skills. Having empathy for bad actors isn’t about excusing their behavior. It’s about understanding it so that you can take actions that are more productive and more positive than the ones they’re hoping you take. That’s a big part of our second book. When we work with kids, that’s really the piece that they love the most, those lineup activities and thinking about who might do something like this, is something kids really get into.

ANGELA: Can I ask a clarifying question about the digital detectives analogy? I love this idea of an investigation and looking for clues, a mystery. I’m wondering if you can clarify what happens with the suspects and the lineup, because I’m thinking about policing and the prison industrial complex, and what sensitive, personal topics those are for some kids, and how triggering that can be. I’m wondering how you handle that, so that it feels like a fun mystery and where we’re not taking those kinds of very serious topics lightly.

JENNIFER: Sure. The way we’ve worded in the book is not about someone being guilty of anything. Rather, it’s more around this question of if this information can’t be trusted, who would do that? Who would create this false information? Who’s responsible for creating it? Then who also might share it? Because kids asked that question, especially the more sensational the content. If we’re looking at some mystery where it’s really sensational and incredible, kids ask that question, “Well, who would do that? Who has time to do that? Who would be motivated to do that?”

We want kids, especially as they get older, to be thinking about identity, and not just the identity of those people who might be responsible for creating and sharing false content, but about their own identities as citizens. I’m being careful not to use the term digital citizens. Because, to me, those things are synonymous now. We’re all digital citizens. That’s not different from just being a good citizen now.

We want kids to think about how sharing false content affects their identity, how others view them, and their own credibility in the world. We’ve created these suspect cards. They’re very cartoonish and funny. They allow us to think about, here’s the content, here are the red flags I see in it. Now let me look at which suspects are most likely responsible for it. Let me think about what might be driving that, rather than a binary of some bad actor or evil henchmen that’s doing this.

These are all behind every thought, behind every algorithm, behind every post, there’s a human. If we can understand the human condition that creates that, then I think we’re more likely to be able to manage our own human behavior around it. Because ultimately, if we stop trusting and sharing misinformation that’s created and spread, then they will stop creating it, because we’re the product and they need our clicks, etc. Without them, they will move on to a different product.

DARREN: To Jennifer’s point, this is about economics. It’s about controlling people to control the power of finances, setting up things for other ways to get income. Income can come in a bunch of different ways. Also, one of the pieces that was an influence to this was really around economic thinking.

JENNIFER: I’m going to add just one last thing, and that is just to piggyback on what Darren is saying, is that the lineup activities and the suspect cards, the action that’s taken behind those is about managing our own behavior. There’s nobody going to jail, there’s no policing, there’s nothing punitive. It’s about managing our actions as a result once we understand the motivations behind the suspect.

DARREN: You have to name the persona to understand what they do and psychologically, why they do it and then how they impact you. By categorizing those groups, which frankly, we do that all the time with stereotyping and biases of people, we make quick assumptions. What we don’t know is because they’re behind these zeros and ones, this internet space, and disguised with marketing visuals and all these things, that it’s harder to make those decisions of whether I trust these people or not. We’re trying to bring that out into the open.

Tip #8: Help kids analyze information not only in long-form articles, but also in the mediums they frequently consume, such as video, memes, and social media images 

ANGELA: I know it’s important to get kids thinking about what people’s motivation is, for writing, for sharing the things that they share. It goes beyond just point of view. Also, there are people who are sharing information for a specific reason that some have good intentions and some don’t. I know one thing that I’m hearing a lot from particularly secondary teachers right now is concerns about their students who are being recruited online by hate groups.

They are hearing that their students are being lured in by propaganda from Neo-Nazis and White supremacists. They’re hearing some of that type of thinking happening in their classroom and like, “Where did you get that?” Like, “Oh, I watched this YouTube video that said this or I found this thing online.” 

DARREN: So these folks know that visuals matter, pictures matter. They’re going to things like memes, which they can send you a bunch of those in a short amount of time and begin to build that context in your brain that says, “Oh wait, they’re speaking to me,” even though you don’t really even know it. Subliminally, they might be absolutely the opposite of the kind of person you want to be. They’re beginning to manipulate and build it in times where kids are trying to find out who they are, where they’re going, what are they going to be.

Then you tack that on with we don’t know the kinds of things that are being taught to them at home and the majority of their time is at home. If we can help these kids continue to be critical thinkers, then they can make those decisions on their own. That’s not, again, manipulating one side or the other and saying we need to make them this. It’s just that we need to make them critical thinkers. When they are introduced with propaganda, whatever it is, that they’re able to say, “Wait a minute, these people are trying to control and manipulate.”

JENNIFER: I just want to piggyback on one thing Darren said, because I think it’s so important and I don’t want it to get lost in there, is that in schools, we tend to focus on specific types of information articles. For example, news articles in terms of helping kids understand how to parse credibility.

When the tools that these types of groups use are what educators, old fogies like us, might consider more nontraditional information sources like memes. There’s been several investigations by journalists over the last couple of years about how memes are a favorite tool of White supremacist groups to recruit, especially White males at the high school age.

When we think about the actual platforms and the tools that these messages come in memes, YouTube videos, etc., we have to start including those in our information literacy effort. They’re a big part of our lessons in the book. Because if the information comes in a different shape and size to kids, when they’re not in school, then the information we ask them to examine and investigate in school, then we have to assume that they’re building bridges between those two things which they may or may not be doing.

When we do things like dismiss memes or YouTube or Wikipedia or other sources as just simply not being good, then that gives kids the message that the information that they’re consuming in those platforms in huge, huge quantities doesn’t really count because it’s not real information. We have to legitimize those sources as being real sources of information that are worthy of scrutiny.

ANGELA: That’s such a great point. This is not just about long form articles. So much of misinformation and so much of the information that students consume is in Instagram posts, like you said, or quick videos could be on TikTok, could be on YouTube, as well as memes. I was just reading the other day, and maybe you know more about this, but they were saying about how when text is laid over the top of a photograph, people are far more likely to believe it.

DARREN: I mean, YouTube is now the number two search engine in the world. People are now trying to find information and all that through video. We know this infodemic that came through with this pandemic, a lot of that was sent with these TikTok videos, YouTube videos, all kinds of things of spreading all kinds of myths and disinformation. Now we have a bunch of people confused about, “Well, is this a real pandemic? … Or how do I get help? … Or what about the shots or vaccines? … Where do I go? … It’s a conspiracy by this group.” We could go on and on and on. Because, again, it’s been muddied.

Tip #9: Teach kids HOW to think, not WHAT to think

ANGELA: What would you say to teachers who work in communities where false information and conspiracy theories are widely accepted? That’s another question that I hear a lot from teachers where they feel like they want to help kids think critically.

As you said earlier, Darren, I thought your point was really great. We’re not teaching kids what to think, really. We’re teaching them how to think. We’re teaching them critical thinking skills. A lot of teachers feel pressure from parents to uphold conspiracy theories and other beliefs that just don’t hold up under scrutiny when kids are doing that critical thinking. How can teachers collaborate with parents to support critical thinking for learners in spite of conflicting beliefs or ideologies?

DARREN: Well, I think you answered it right there. I think the first thing is you’ve got to build trust and a culture between your parents. It isn’t just, “I have these kids for X amount of time. Once I shut the door, it’s my classroom and I can do whatever I want and it’s us against them.” You’ve got to communicate with your parents and in a bunch of different avenues. It can’t just be, “I sent an email home.” You’ve got to find ways to talk about the video, send the video home and say, “We’re going to talk about these things this week.” You’ve got to let them know ahead of time.

I also think you have to do a real dance of trying to give both factual sides, or even letting them know ahead of time, “Okay, here are some conspiracy theories that are out there. We want you to be detectives. We want you to go through and look at these.” Show them some paired text type of situations where you can see two things that look exactly the same — one is real and one’s a parody or one’s a satire.

Give them opportunities, as Jennifer talked about earlier, to put them into some sort of a mystery, some sort of journey, where they have to parse the credibility. You’re not telling them, “This is the one.” You’re not saying, “This is the way you should be.” You, as the teacher, have to give them the tools to be able to decipher: “What do you see, what do you wonder, what do you think about this, what questions do you still have?” Then try to help them: “Well, have you looked at these sources? Have you gone through these things?”

Tip #10: Remember that information literacy is a human problem, and even small steps to tackle it are worthwhile

ANGELA: I would love to close out the show with a takeaway truth, something that you want teachers who are listening to think about in the week ahead. Can you each share something that you wish every educator understood about teaching critical thinking?

JENNIFER: I’ll start just by saying that the big thing for me is that information literacy is a human problem. It’s not a technology problem. It’s not a mobile device problem. It’s not a social media problem. It’s a human problem.

The reasons we’re in this mess that we’re in right now are all because of human behavior which, in some ways, sounds a little bit more nebulous than being able to just say, “If we block these particular sites or we teach them how to use this device, we’ll be able to fix it.” To me, that’s very empowering, because if the problems are really within us, then so are the solutions. We have to be better and smarter about managing human behavior if we have a hope of helping to grow and create better humans.

DARREN: This is a human problem. The only way we’re going to deal with it is not to act like it’s too big. We have to start biting off chunks of it. We did that in the first book. We hope we’re going to help you even more in the second book. Doing podcasts like this with you, Angela, and spreading the word, we hope that we’re helping folks do that, as well.

About our guests

Jennifer LaGarde and Darren Hudgins are co-authors of Fact VS Fiction: Teaching Critical Thinking In the Age of Fake News (ISTE 2018; #FactVSFiction) and Developing Digital Detectives (ISTE 2021; coming in July). 

With more than 20 years in public education, Jennifer LaGarde‘s educational passions include leveraging technology to help students develop authentic reading lives, meeting the needs of students living in poverty, and helping learners of all ages consume and create healthy, fact rich information online. Follow her at librarygirl.net.

Darren Hudgins is a passionate advocate for creating learning experiences that drive educators of all kinds and their students to think, do, and thrive. He believes in this mission so much that he conceptualized and currently directs Think | Do | Thrive, LLC. Here he uses his 20+ years in education, edtech, and coaching to inspire critical thinking, active learning, and opportunities for educational communities to improve. (about.me/darren_hudgins)

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The Truth for Teachers Podcast

Our weekly audio podcast is one of the top K-12 broadcasts in the world, featuring our writers collective and tons of practical, energizing ideas. Support our work by subscribing in your favorite podcast app–everything is free!

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Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Angela created the first version of this site in 2003, when she was a classroom teacher herself. With 11 years of teaching experience and more than a decade of experience as an instructional coach, Angela oversees and contributes regularly to...
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  1. Great podcast for its value, thoughtfulness, and written format. The content is valuable for teaching and for teachers!
    I see an improvement which may be a result of the interview format vs. the written information in the forthcoming book. The #2 lens has two very different ideas: 1) access to credibility markers, 2) over-ease of response. Given the #3 lens is about authorship matters, the #2 lens may be more aptly named, “Ease of thoughtless Response” lens.
    Thank you,
    Joe Swoboda

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