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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 weekly lesson plans published by the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs that teach specific online fact-checking skills that will be posted right here! 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.

Explore more below and be sure to check this page weekly for new lessons!

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


I Can’t Believe It When I See It: A Primer In Spotting Misinformation

Students will learn how misinformation with an image or video is more believable and can lead them to unintentionally share information that is misleading or inaccurate. The MediaWise Teen Fact Checking Network (TFCN) demonstrates how to fact-check images in social media posts about Ukrainian Snipers using cats to locate targets. For more information and to complete the lesson, go here. (45 - 90 Mins)


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)


How to Spot “Pink Slime” Journalism – Misinformation in Long-Trusted Local News

Students will be able to recognize local pink slime journalism websites that spread biased or partisan information online and equip them to fact-check a suspicious website or article. For more information and to complete the lesson, go here. (45 - 90 mins)


Recognizing Satire is No Joke

How to Identify Satire Before Sharing it As Misinformation – This lesson will equip students with the tools to distinguish satirical news sources from legitimate news sources. Students will also be able to explain why satire is an effective way to communicate an idea and four of the techniques used to create satire effectively. For more information and to complete the lesson, go here. (45 - 90 mins)


Trick or truth: Why social media posts hit the misinformation sweet tooth

Strong emotions cause us to act quickly — but that’s when we especially need to stop for a minute and check things out. This lesson explores all the tips and tricks for how to recognize a post that evokes strong emotion and choose the best search terms to find and evaluate sources. These search skills will help you find better answers to your other interests as well, such as “best exercises to work off all of my kid’s Halloween candy.” For more information and to complete the lesson, go here. (30-45 min)


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)


Detecting Deepfakes: Don’t Be Fooled by Disinformation

Deepfake videos, images, and audio that use artificial intelligence can be very convincing. Even when the intent is harmless, a lot of people can be fooled. Students will learn about the different types of “deepfake” techniques, how to identify fake videos created by artificial intelligence and the positive and negative uses of the technology. They will also explore solutions to protect consumers. 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 Bury Misinformation That Keeps Coming Back to Life

Misinformation that evokes strong emotions like fear can cause us to share information without checking it out first. Students will learn media literacy skills, such as why they should hit “pause” before sharing posts that stir up strong emotions, how to conduct an effective keyword search, and how to sort through search results here (45 mins)


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Facts about Wikipedia

Wikipedia has 6.6 million articles, but that trove of information has been labeled as “off limits” by teachers because anyone can edit the information. In this lesson, students will learn how accurate Wikipedia really is, how to use it responsively for their schoolwork, and how to recognize potential (45 mins)


How to Fact Check Scientific Claims You Find Online

False scientific claims that evoke strong emotions exploit social media algorithms that reward “sensational, eye-catching claims”, like the Instagram post falsely connecting NFL player Damar Hamlin’s medical emergency during an NFL game to the Coronavirus vaccine. Students will learn how to recognize when their social media feeds become an echo chamber and identify and evaluate claims based on (45 mins)


How to Separate Fact from Fiction in a New Era of Artificial Intelligence

In this lesson, students will learn how ChatGPT works, why it could be effective at spreading misinformation and how to identify content created by artificial intelligence. Students will then put these skills to the test to separate AI-generated social media posts from human-generated posts here. (45 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 Lateral Reading Helps Debunk Sensational Claims

It isn't always easy to figure out who's an expert and who's just a TikToker with lots of clicks and likes. In this Be MediaWise lesson, students will learn how to find credible sources to verify or debunk claims they see on social media here (45 min)


How to Detect Marketing Misinformation

The Federal Trade Commission reported that people lost more than $1.2 billion to fraudulent ads on social media in 2022. In this Be MediaWise lesson, students will learn how to figure out when a "news story" might really be an ad for a product here (45 min)


How to debunk Denver Airport Conspiracy Theories

Since 1995, the Denver airport has been a focal point for conspiracy theorists — murals with encoded messages, a giant blue horse statue with glowing eyes, and massive underground bunkers to house elites during a planned apocalypse. Students will learn how to decode a conspiracy theory here (45 min)


AI Ian shows you how not to be duped by AI technology

AI technology has become so good that you might actually think that President Joe Biden mocked people identifying as transgender or that Emma Watson really read Mein Kampf on Twitter. Students are being bombarded with synthetic images, AI-generated text and now voice-cloning. In this video, students will learn how NOT to be fooled by this technology here (45 min)


How social media algorithms create echo chambers

An echo chamber on social media is a place where you only encounter information or opinions that reflect your own, and it's not always the best place to find yourself. It can distort your perspective and make it hard for you to consider opposing points of view. This lesson will explain how algorithms work and how they can create echo chambers (45 min)



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