Teaching kids how to distinguish fake news from real news

Joanie Harmon

UCLA Teacher Education Program Professor Jeff Share advises K-12 teachers on how to educate students in critical media literacy

In his former career as a freelance photojournalist, Jeff Share documented issues such as poverty and social activism, and won awards for his coverage of the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament of 1986.

Today, the lecturer and faculty adviser in UCLA’s Teacher Education Program has turned his lens on two critical issues facing educators and students: climate change and the need for critical thinking skills to decipher the barrage of real and alternative facts in the media.

Share, whose photos once appeared in the Washington Post, was recently interviewed by the newspaper about his critical media literacy courses at UCLA, where he trains current and future K-12 teachers in ways to show students how to deconstruct media, create their own alternative messages and separate fake news from facts. Share is the author of a 2009 book, “Media Literacy is Elementary: Teaching Youth to Critically Read and Create Media.” In 2015, a second edition of the book was released.

At a discussion in April hosted by the Nonprofit Communications and Media Network, Share joined a panel of educators, journalists and media experts to discuss the respective responsibilities of the public and the media in relation to “fake news” and alternative facts.

He described the mission of critical media literacy training in the Teacher Education Program as helping teachers “educate kids to be critical thinkers and to be able to build skepticism about all information, whether it’s coming from a teacher or from a website. That shift from censorship to empowerment is very important.”

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