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Consider the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus

Okay, I hear you. I know I just posted a fake news blog a month ago, but I have just finished my fake news unit, and added a new twist. Parents and teachers, read this next sentence very carefully... twice... daily... out loud... three times on Monday. Say it with me

"Teaching Digital Citizenship Is Everyone's Responsibility!"

Please don't think "I don't teach (stem/tech/computer apps) so it's not my job to (teach/model/help improve) my (student's/child's) about (digital citizenship/copyright/fair use/online etiquette.) Don't sell yourself short like that. It is not difficult to make a positive difference in someone's ability to use technology properly. Most of the time, they just need a positive role model to emulate. You can be that role model, even if you teach Math, Science, Social Studies, ELA, Reading, Band, Chorus, P.E., Ag, Art... just model proper digital citizenship. </rant>

That being said, take yourself through this simple three step lesson. Follow it step by step. Don't jump ahead. Follow the steps, ponder the questions. Ready? Here we go.

1. Go to https://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/ and dig around. Read. Learn. Think. Buy a shirt? I certainly want one. Think about these questions - A. How has the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus adapted to its environment? - B. Why do you think the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus is not on the endangered species list? - C. What are some things you can do to help raise awareness for the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus? - D. What did you think of the website in general? - E. What is the main purpose of the website?

Got your answers? Good. I want to talk about that last question. So, what did you think was the main purpose of the website??? Really? Well, I think the main purpose of the website is to teach people not to believe everything they read on the internet. Tree Octopus? Nope! Fake. Phony. Fraud. Hoax. Great website though. I honestly do want one of the shirts.

2. Go to http://factitious.augamestudio.com/#/ and play the game. Pick a level. Play more than one. Play all six. See how well you do at finding the fake news vs the real news. Consider the source. The point here is to always consider the source. In class, we extend that idea to our real lives as well. If someone tells you something, consider the source. If they are a person that adds nothing but drama, then they are not likely to be a reliable source.

3. Go to https://getbadnews.com/#intro and play that game. This time, you are taking the role of a fake news pioneer. Lie. Falsify images. Spread fear, anger, hared. Sew the seeds of distrust in others, but maintain your credibility. See how many followers you can gather. Play more than once. Take the opportunity to learn about how people will twist information to get clicks.

When it comes down to it, on the internet, the click is king. Some entities on the internet will do whatever they can to get the clicks, so be stingy with yours. Use your clicks wisely. Use them to support worthwhile things. Always leave the internet better than you found it.

Have a great weekend. Please take some time to remember the contributions of Dr. King.


  1. What a fantastic lesson.

    I do very much love the PNWTO website. The level of dedication is astounding.

    I'll have to come back in a bit for the other two links -- I've promised to color. Good job on this post. I'll be sharing it on Facebook. There's so much misinformation and outright lying in the world today. Maybe this will remind people to think before they share, and investigate before they believe.

    1. I couldn't agree more on all your points. You really do have to be careful with the "information" you find on the internet. Often, when you do find something that is true, it is spun in such a way to make the impact of the article something other than the truth. It's truth, weaponized.

      I just found an image that hits it right on the head. It says "If a news article tries to make me feel an emotion, rather than just inform me about the subject matter, I automatically think the article is going to give me misinformation."

      Enjoy your coloring time. It never lasts long enough.


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