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Lesson | 50 minutes

LIVE: MediaWise Toolkit



Through a partnership with the MediaWise Teen Fact-Checking Network and with support from Google, millions of teachers throughout the United States can access this Media Literacy curriculum published by the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs that teach specific online fact-checking skills.

Explore this curriculum guide for suggestions on how to make it fit your classes as a unit, mini-unit, or individual lessons.


Lesson 1: Reverse Image Searches

Is Ukraine using cats to detect snipers? — Students learn how to use a reverse image search to fact-check an image and are introduced to the nuances of how misinformation spreads around major news events. (45 - 90 Mins)

Lesson 2: Lateral Reading

Debunking Denver airport conspiracies — Students learn how to use lateral reading and the Stanford History Education Group’s “Three Questions” - Who is behind the information? What is the evidence? What do other sources say? - to decode a conspiracy theory.

Lesson 3: Reading Upstream

Zeroing in on the “zombie” virus claim — Students practice “reading upstream” to find a primary, credible source and learn what a “zombie claim” is as they investigate a post about melting glaciers releasing long-dormant viruses.

Lesson 4: Effective keyword searching

Trick or Truth: Do drug dealers target kids on Halloween? — Students learn how to do an effective keyword search and find out why it’s important to be wary when social media posts evoke a strong emotion.


Lesson 5: Determining source credibility

Is the continent of Africa really splitting apart? — Students learn how to check the credibility of a source by finding experts to verify or debunk claims they see on social media. They will also be introduced to the concept of “click restraint” - not clicking on the first result - and why it is important when doing a keyword search.

Lesson 6: How social media algorithms create echo chambers

Is there an echo in here? — Are you only seeing posts on your social media feeds that you agree with? You might be stuck in an echo chamber. This lesson will teach students about algorithms, confirmation bias and how to avoid getting stuck in an echo chamber.

Lesson 7: Evaluating a scientific claim

Damar Hamlin’s mid-game collapse — Students will learn how to combat online science misinformation using lateral reading by investigating a post about an NFL football player’s collapse on the field.

Lesson 8: Using Wikipedia Responsibly

The good, the bad and the ugly of Wikipedia — Students will learn ways that Wikipedia can be used as a reliable source, how to make sure a Wikipedia article is legit, and tips on how you can make sure you're using the website responsibly.


fake news2

Lesson 9: Identifying “Pink Slime” journalism

‘Journalistic Meat or Fraudulent Filler’ — Students will be introduced to the term “pink slime journalism” and - by looking into a specific claim from a pink slime news outlet – be able to recognize pink slime websites that spread biased or partisan information online

Lesson 10: Recognizing satire

Sometimes satire is no joke: How to recognize satirical news posts — Students will learn what satire is and how to recognize satirical posts online before resharing them as misinformation. This lesson focuses on a post from a satirical Disney news site.

Lesson 11: Advertising disguised as news

Is that a legit news story - or just an ad? — Students will learn how to figure out when someone is trying to educate them - or pressure them into buying their product. They will understand the importance of finding out who’s behind the information and how to locate credible health agency sources.



Lesson 12 —Detecting deepfakes

No, that’s not really Keanu behind that TikTok account — Students will learn about different types of “deepfake” techniques, how to identify fake videos created by artificial intelligence as well as the positive and negative uses of the technology.

Lesson 13 — ChatGPT

Separating Fact from Fiction in the Era of AI — Students will learn what ChatGPT is, how it works, and how to recognize AI-generated content.

Lesson 14 — More about AI

What can we learn from AI Ian? — Students will learn tips to help them identify content created by artificial intelligence. This lesson touches on synthetic images, AI-generated text and voice-cloning.


Produce a fact-check video

Learn media literacy through media creation —Learn how to produce your own fact-check video about potential misinformation online, demonstrate your new skills, and flex your media literacy muscles.


How2Internet is a MediaWise/PBS series designed to help students learn important skills that will guide them on their journey to becoming good digital citizens.

How2Internet Banner

Episode 1: Safely Setting Up Social Media Accounts

Learn how to safely set up an email account as well as a social media account by creating secure passwords to interact safely with others while online.

Episode 2: Search Online Like a Pro

Learn how to safely search the internet by creating productive keyword searches, practicing advanced search strategies, and using click restraint and lateral reading.

Episode 3: Separate fact from opinion and satire online

Learn to recognize the difference between fact and opinion, and identify objective and subjective news stories, pink slime journalism, and satire.

Episode 4: How to avoid online scams

Identify, react to, and report suspicious online communications, as well as emails, texts, and phone calls to avoid becoming a victim of a scam.

Episode 5: Use media literacy skills to navigate the misinformation highway

Use media literacy skills to navigate the misinformation highway with the Teen Fact Checking Network and analyze your own social feeds.

Episode 6: Produce a fact-check video

Learn to produce your own fact-check video about potential misinformation online, demonstrate your new skills, and flex your media literacy muscles.


Inflation Reduction (F)Act Check

Learn to identify a politically-motivated claim and fact-check it while learning about the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act on energy production. Students will also learn to narrow searches to find original Congressional documents more quickly. For more information and to complete the lesson, go here. (45 - 60 Mins)

Statistically Speaking, Statistics Are Misleading

Introduce students to how data and statistics can be used to spread misinformation online. Students will learn to recognize unsupported data or statistics and equip them with tools to fact-check data or statistics used to politicize the Student Loan Reduction Act. For more information and to complete the lesson, go here. (45 - 60 Mins)

Viral Moments in Political Campaigns – or manipulated media?

A 2019 viral video of Nancy Pelosi slurring her words is one high-profile example of how cheap or free editing software and apps make it easy to create engaging and believable manipulated media that spread misinformation. The 2022 election cycle has had its fair share of manipulated media shared by candidates from both parties. The U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania has produced several examples of manipulated media. Learn about the different types of manipulated media and how to spot when a video has been doctored. For more information and to complete the lesson, go here (45-60 mins)

Gun Laws and Book Bans – How to Find Missing Context

Social media posts that share misinformation about controversial topics out of context go viral because they trigger our desire to act. Students will learn the “Top Five Ways to Check for Context” and understand why understanding the context behind the information in social media posts is important. Saying “I’m sorry” and “My bad” mean the same thing – unless you are at a funeral. For more information and to complete the lesson go here (45-6O minutes)

How to Spot Fake Screenshots on Social Media

Fake social media generator websites have made it easy to impersonate a person or business and spread misinformation. These fake social media screenshots look like the real McCoy, but there are a few clues that can help identify fakes if you find yourself asking “Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?” while on social media. Students will learn four clues that a social media screenshot might be fake and use some online tools that can help verify them – and then put those skills to the test. For more information and to complete the lesson go here (45 mins).

How to Check Photos for Context to Avoid Spreading Misinformation

Photos used out of context are the most common type of low-tech technique used to spread misinformation because we are more likely to believe information with visual imagery. Students will learn to recognize cues that images on social media should be checked and learn how to check images to make sure they accurately reflect the information in a social media post. For more information and to complete the lesson go here (45 -60 mins)

Tactics for Talking with Conspiracy Theorists at Family Gatherings

The political and social division sowed by conspiracy theories can make holiday gatherings with extended family and friends uncomfortable at best – and tear apart families at worst. In this lesson, students will learn what a conspiracy theory is, how people fall for them, and how to talk with family members and friends with differing views without it becoming confrontational. For more information and to complete the lesson go here (45 mins).

Corporate Greenwashing: Is That Big Business as Environmentally Friendly as it Seems?

A 2022 Harris Poll by Google Cloud found that 72% of business executives in North America believe their companies have practiced “greenwashing” to look more climate-friendly than they really are – using misinformation to fool climate-conscious consumers. Students will learn to recognize “greenwashing”, explain why businesses use the misleading practice, and why it is important to be an informed consumer. For more information and to complete the lesson go here (60 mins)

How to Identify “Show Off” Performative Posts on Social Media

Performative social media activism is activism that evokes strong emotions in people eager to share messages — and sometimes misinformation — that match their beliefs around politically-charged issues. In this lesson, students will evaluate and consider bias in online content that is being used for personal gain or popularity as opposed to real support for the issue here. (45 mins)

How to Analyze Climate Change Claims by Finding Credible Sources

The topic of climate change is still hotly debated online, and climate-change misinformation can spread like wildfire on social media. Students will learn how to evaluate the source of climate change posts on social media and analyze search engine results to choose the best sources to verify or debunk them here. (45 mins)

How to throw cold water on conspiracy theories that spread online

People often turn to conspiracy theories to help explain mysterious events or circumstances to make sense of their world. But there are other reasons people with good intentions believe them. Students will learn why people become susceptible to conspiracy theories and how to fact-check them here. (45 mins)

How to uncover the deceitful practice of quoting someone out of context

Quoting someone out of context is commonly used to spread misinformation with potentially serious consequences, such as provoking violence or providing fake evidence to spread conspiracy theories. Students will learn how quotes about the 9/11 attacks have been manipulated to spread conspiracies and read upstream to find the original sources to explain how the meaning changes here (45 mins)

Three types of manipulated video used to spread misinformation

Seeing is believing—which is why manipulated video can be a powerful tool to spread misinformation. Students will learn three ways that video is manipulated to spread misinformation, how to detect manipulated video, and how to fact-check it before sharing it here (45 min)

How to fact-check the “fact” pages on Instagram

Instagram’s so-called “fact” pages feature unbelievable stories that catch your attention and distract your critical thinking powers - and they often contain misinformation. Students will learn to identify these types of sites on social media, understand why it is important to double-check them, and how to fact-check them here (45 min)

How and Why Credible Sources Can Share Misinformation

Credible sources can also spread misinformation when not all the facts are clear, especially during a scary event such as the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. Students will explore an example of a credible source spreading misinformation about acid rain and then apply those media literacy skills to research another issue surrounding the release of dangerous chemicals here (45 min)

How to short-circuit misinformation online—media literacy final assessment

Misinformation is all over social media - and it’s our job to sort fact from fiction to put a stop to it. That's why we've brought you this "Be MediaWise" curriculum. This video is the final episode of the series and will highlight some of the skills we’ve taught over the year—and give students some activities to practice what they've learned (60 mins)


The MediaWise Teen Fact-Checking Network – or TFCN – is a virtual newsroom made up of middle and high schoolers from across the United States who use social media to debunk viral misinformation and share media literacy tips.

MediaWise Teen Fact-Checking Network is a digital media literacy initiative of the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.



A set of moral principles based on standards of right and wrong, usually in terms of obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues.

Source: Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Journalism Ethics

Ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity. Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

Source: Society of Professional Journalist Code of Ethics


Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

Source: Lexico, Powered by Oxford


Media refers to all electronic or digital means and print or artistic visuals used to transmit messages.

Source: NAMLE

News Media

All forms of media created with the purpose of informing the public and delivering news through specific mediums such as radio and broadcast stations, digital news organizations and others.

Media consumption

The act of consuming any form of media including anything that is text or visual. It can be books, television, papers, flyers, advertisements, newspapers, information on the Internet, etc.


A group of people who live in the same area (such as a city, town, or neighborhood). It can also be a group of people who have the same interests, religion, race, etc.

Source: Merriam Webster

Story Angle

In news, it’s a story’s point or theme. It's the lens through which the producer or writer filters the information they have gathered and focuses it to make it meaningful to viewers or readers.

Source: ThoughCo.


The people who read, watch and consume news. Often, journalists think about audience and newsworthiness in similar ways. How will the news story serve their local or national audience? Who am I writing the story for and why?


The availability of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid


Something that is known or proved to be true.


A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.


Something that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.


An investigation into and study of sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.


A source is an individual, company, document or more that can provide information to fuel a new story. In order for a story to be considered verified and to maintain a reputation as a news outlet, it is important to have a credible source.


Free from mistake or error. Coverage of topics and facts in appropriate detail.


Journalists should strive for accuracy and truth in reporting, and not slant a story so a reader draws the reporter’s desired conclusion.


The process of verifying the accuracy of a piece of information.

Speaking and Listening - Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

Empowered Learner

Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving, and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences. (ISTE)

Civic and Political Institutions

In order to act responsibly and effectively, citizens must understand the important institutions of their society and the principles that these institutions are intended to reflect. That requires mastery of a body of knowledge about law, politics, and government. (NCSS D2.Civ.1.9-12 - D2.Civ.6.9-12)




Media Literacy

Digital Literacy/Citizenship

Active Prompts





White board, chalkboard or other visual board



Estimated Time

50 minutes