Posts tagged ‘digital literacy’

Teaching How to Spot Fake News

“Life is filled with tests, one after another, and if you don’t recognize them, you are certain to fail the most important ones.” By Brian Herbert


In a  recent study from Stanford, Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning, displays that a vast majority of students can’t determine it what they read on websites is true or false. (I would also be interested in a further study to see how many adults can identify fake news as sometimes I see adults posting fake news too.) The skills of evaluating fake news and information are a very important part of Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacy. 

As educators we need to have an understanding ourselves where information comes from so we can help guide students. We need to explicitly teach if an article, blog post etc is reliable and accurate. We can start doing that be utilizing these three core ideas: 

Consider the Source: Where was the information published? Remember anyone can make a website.

Check the Author: What do you know about the author(s)? What else have they written?

Check the Date: When was the information posted? How long ago was it updated? 

Below are some resources you can use in the classroom for teaching how to spot fake news:

Chrome Extension: Fake News Detector 

Snopes (Put in a url you are wondering about and they will fact check it)

Fictitious, Satirical, Bogus, Fallacy-laden Websites (Sites that are fake you can use to teach students about digital literacy and spotting fake news. I would make this into a web-quest mixing real and fake news to see how many they can identify)

Lesson Plan: Fighting Fake News

Lesson plan: How to teach your students about fake news

Fake News and What We Can Do about It: HS Lesson Plans

More articles on fake news:

Mission Critical: How Educators Can Help Save Democracy

Who Stands Between Fake News and Students? Educators

Evaluating Sources in a ‘Post-Truth’ World: Ideas for Teaching and Learning About Fake News

Most Students Don’t Know When News Is Fake, Stanford Study Finds

How to Spot Fake News

Transforming Literacy Practices with Digital Tools

“Technology can and should be used as a tool to open the classroom to the world, to ensure that teachers present standards in a way that fosters active engagement and participation in meaningful ways.” – from Pencils to Podcasts 

Guest blog post by Katie Stover Kelly

Who knew what started as a partnership between my education students at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina and Lindsay Yearta’s fifth graders in Rock Hill, South Carolina would become a catalyst for a larger endeavor. In 2013, both groups of students read Linda Sue Park’s novel, A Long Walk to Water  and used Kid Blog as a platform for ongoing conversation about the book. This digital book club enhanced the fifth graders’ motivation and engagement in reading while providing the preservice teachers with a hands-on experience working with elementary-aged learners. The online reader response provided the preservice teachers with authentic assessment and instructional opportunities without having to physically be present in the classroom. They used students’ written responses as a springboard for online conversation about the shared text. The preservice teachers modeled proficient reader strategies like connecting, predicting, and inferring. They then probed and engaged the fifth graders through questioning to elicit deeper comprehension and discussion of the text.

When sharing about this mutually beneficial blogging partnership at the International Literacy Conference in 2014, we were asked by Solution Tree Publishers to consider writing a book about ways to integrate technology into teaching and learning. Fast forward two years later and we are thrilled to announce our new book titled, From Pencils to Podcasts: Digital Tools to Transform K-6 Literacy Practices will be released at the end of August. In this book, we share more about the online book club as well as over a dozen other suggestions for embedding technology into the curriculum to prepare students to meet the demands of the 21st century. We offer practical suggestions for integrating digital tools into familiar literacy practices to facilitate comprehension, evaluation, publication, and assessment. Each chapter provides a vignette, easy-to-use digital tools, step by step instructions for getting started as well as authentic classroom examples and suggestions for adapting across content areas.

We would love to hear from you as you try out and adapt any ideas from the book in your own schools!  Our Twitter handles are: Katie Stover @kstover24 and Lindsay Yearta @lyearta 

From Pencils to Podcasts

Join #21stedchat on October 2nd, 2017 @ 8:00 EST PM with @edu_thompson and @dprindle with guest host @kstover24 as we discuss the book From Pencils to Podcasts: Digital Tools to Transform K-6 Literacy Practices 

To read more about the blogging partnership and other publications by Katie Stover, visit

Also check out another great book coauthored by Katie Stover, Smuggling Writing: Strategies That Get Students to Write Every Day, in Every Content Area, Grades 3-12



Incorporating New Literacies

“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.” By Vera Nazarian

New literacies refers to literacy through digital technology.  In todays classrooms literacy needs to look a little different because our students are learning  with different tools and for a different type of world. New literacies still focuses on reading skills, strategies, and ideas but through multi-media digital tools. For example, we still need to teach close reading but not just with reading an article online but also with tools such as podcasts and blogs etc. Below are some good resources  for you to explore and try integrating into your classroom. 


Infusing Technology into the Balanced Literacy Classroom Jennifer W. Shettel, Ed.D. and Kevin Bower, M.Ed.


Literature Map: Students can put in their favorite author and literature map displays other authors that are similar that they might like.

Newspaper Map: Bring any place in the worlds Newspaper to your students finger tips. Click on a location and then on the image icon to pull up the newspaper from that part of the world. Need it translated into your native language, it will translate it for you.

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International Children’s Digital Library:  Find books from all over the world at the on this free site. It doesn’t read the books aloud, but students can read them independently.

Film Canon Project: Films, screen plays and more to add a different type of literacy to your classroom.

Podcasts for Students: Here are curated podcasts that students enjoy and teachers use in the classroom.

News ELA: Find non-fiction articles based on your students levels.

US Digital Literacy: Chalk full of resources and ideas!


The Reading Strategies BookYour Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers By Jennifer Serravallo Practical strategies to help improve your reading instruction

Smuggling Writing: Strategies That Get Students to Write Every Day, in Every Content Area, Grades 3-12 by Karen D. (Dutson) Wood, David Bruce Taylor, Katie Stover 

Digital Storytelling Tools Sequel

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” By Robert McAfee Brown

A few years ago I wrote a blog post on Tools for Using Digital Storytelling in the Classroom and a lot has changed in digital learning so I wanted to do a sequel. Many of the tools in the first digital storytelling post I still use along with Digital Storytelling with Tellagami App. Below are a few more I have added to my FREE Digital Storytelling Tool Kit.


ChatterPix Kids: Is a user-friendly app that allows students to chose a picture and make it talk in 3 easy steps. One take any photo, two draw a line to make a mouth, and three record your voice. (They also have a ChatterPix for students that are 13 and up).

Imagistory: Is a wordless app where students become the creator of the story based on the pictures they see. It is a great way to see if they have mastered plot diagrams.

Storehouse – Visual Storytelling: Is an app that allows you to use picture to create a story. It is a great way for students to present using just pictures and let them show mastery of the content.  I had a student app smash using ShowMe and Storehouse and present (explain) on how to multiply and divide fractions only using pictures….now that shows true mastery!

Adobe Voice: Is an app that records your voice, imports pictures, and allows you to write text to create a short video.


Google Story Builder: Is a great collaborative web tool that can be used in so many ways. One of the students favorite ways I have used it was updating the old school “story carousel” where you start a story and then pass the paper to a classmate after two minutes and repeat a few times and see what the story ends up as. Instead of passing the paper, the students do it collaboratively in the document.

Storyjumper: Students can create ebooks for free. (If you want it as a hard cover book, that is when you have to purchase)

Fodey: The site isn’t visually pleasing but it gets the job done. Create a newspaper articles using this site.

Dvolver Moviemaker: Using avatars create a story and turn it into a movie.

Both App and Webtool:

Make Beliefs Comix: Who doesn’t love creating comic books! This is a simple user-friendly

Please add in the comments your favorite FREE app/webtool for storytelling so we can add it to the toolkit.

Activities and Resources for Non-fiction Text Features

“Education…has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.” By George Macaulay Trevelyan

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The Common Core emphasizes the importance of nonfiction text. Understanding text features are an important part of helping readers determine what is important to the text.

Two of my favorite ‘Newspaper’ web tools, that also work on devices using a browser, are TweenTribune and Dogo News. Both sites have articles that are appropriate, student friendly topics and each article also comes with a ‘Critical Thinking Challenge’ question for students to ponder. When you use Dogo News, you can click on a current event and it will tell you what Common Core Standards the article addresses, what age level and what National Standard. Both of these sites are great to use for non-fiction texts and especially to teacher text features. Below are activities you can do with your students that allow them to also demonstrate 21st century skills and digital literacy.

5 Activities for the Classroom: 

1. You can also use the Bounce App website. You paste a website address that you like into the “app” and it turns it into an interactive screenshot where students can jot ideas while reading non-fiction text! You can have the students identify the non-fiction text features. (Works on all devices using browser too)

2. Have students use their devices and do a photo text features scavenger hunt. The students can find an example of each text feature and take a picture of the feature, add the picture to Pic College or Skitch and label each feature.

3. Have students create non-fiction article that include all text features using Apps or websites such as Google Documents, Pages, Book Creator or any word-processing such as word.

4. Having students reading a non-fiction text on their level, using the sites above. Have the students analyze the text by blogging or writing with starter questions such as: What text features did the author use?  Were they helpful,  why or why not?  Are there any other text features the author should have included to make better?

5. Have students create a presentation using an App or website of their choice and have them ‘teach’ their classmates or a younger grade about text features. For example, have 2nd graders teach the kindergartener as both grade levels have learning about text features in the Common Core standard.

I would love to hear how you teach nonfiction text features, please add them in the comment section.

Digital Storytelling with Tellagami App

“You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.” By Clay P. Bedford


Tellagami is a newer Apple and Android the allows you to create talking avatars. Similar to Voki’s you can have students create and show their knowledge. Tellagami is simple, user-friendly and FREE!

Steps to creating a “Gami”

1. Click on Create

2. Chose your character, emotion and background

3. Record or Type your message.

4. Save and Share

Here is my “Gami” message for you:

As my Gami stated, this is a great App to have students demonstrate mastery of skills but also integrating technology and 21st century skills seamlessly. Having students explain their knowledge allows for higher order thinking. I like that you can either type your responses  or record  allowing you to differentiate. Creating Tellagami’s infuses Common Core:  Speaking and Listening Anchor Standards along with other Common Core and/or Essential Standards efficiently. Here are my top 5 ways you can use Tellagami in your classroom:

1. After reading ________ (fill in the blank book) have the students create an avatar that looks like the character summarizes the book.

2. Have students describe a vocabulary word and use it in a sentence.

3. Create avatars to read their poems

4. Create an avatar that looks like them and explaining any concept that you are working on such as rock cycle, simple machines, adding and subtracting fractions etc.

5. Create avatars to persuade the audience (Ex: voting for a candidate)

I would love to hear how you use Tellagami App in your classroom, please share in the comments.

Connecting iPads and Reading in the Classroom: Part 1

“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.” By Sydney J. Harris

This year our PTO bought each of our teachers iPads to use in the classroom. One of my jobs is to help give professional development to our teachers  on how to use them in the classroom. One of my trainings was how to use  the iPad to differentiate reading in the classroom using Safari and iBooks, now I can share my tips and tricks with you in my two part series blog post. Part 1 using Safari!

First you need to turn on speech selection. To do this, on your iPad, you need to go to settings, general, scroll down to accessibility, speak selection- turn on. Now Siri can read to you and we can get started!

Open Safari and go to one of my favorite sites I use. This is a great site to read current event articles for students! Once you are on the site click on an article that you want to read. Notice when you click on the article a lot of ads and social networking sharing options comes up on the sides. If you go to ‘reader’ (gray button on url) and click it, the article now becomes easier to read because all of the distractions are now taken away. In the top left corner you can change the font size to help the student. If you press and hold the first word of the story, a blue hi-light comes up with the options: copy, define, and speak. If you tap on define, the dictionary pops up and gives the student the definition of that word. If you tap on speak it will pronounce it to you. If you drag the blue hi-light, it will read the whole paragraph to you or the whole article depending on what you have hi-lighted.

Here is the best part, in a classroom you want to be able to differentiate based on level or interest etc. To do this easily you can make folders for each of your students and place articles for them to read in their folders. When they pick up the iPad they go to their folder and read the articles and complete the task you have assigned to them.  I use name the folders by the students names; example Jill would do to her own folder, Jill. To do this you start by making folders.

1. Click on the open book on the tool bar (near the arrows) and bookmarks will appear.

2. Click on edit in the top right corner and then new folder in top left corner. Name it either a students name, a guided reading group name/color or name it be reading level if you do Fountas and Pinnell or leveled system similar. Then hit done.

4. Go back to the article, and click on the share button (looks like a box with an arrow coming out of it). Tap on ‘add bookmarks’; here you can rename the article if you want but the most important part is to look at the folder you are putting it in, which is indicated in the third box. If the name of the folder you want it in, doesn’t come up, then tap the folder (third box). Now all your folders appear and you can put it into the folder you want it in- the check mark indicates this for you. Hit save and it is now inside that folder for your student. If you want to delete a folder simply swipe to the left and the delete button will appear and you can delete it.

Other great feature that I want to share with you are some of the share button options and how I use them in the classroom. Tapping on the share button again, the next button is ‘Reading List’ I use this button when I do not have time to read the article but the heading looks interesting or I know that this article is good but not sure which folder to put it into yet. To read them at a later time they will be under reading list in the bookmarks. I use the ‘Add to Home Screen’ button for sites I go to everyday or I have my students go to every day, such as my wiki.

Next week I am going to share with you how I use iBooks to differentiate my reading and some tips and tricks to use in the classroom.

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