Online tool helps Arlington high school students spot fake news

It's a question many of us have to ask ourselves as we consume information — is it real or fake?

Hans Cavallero-Garcia, a junior at Wakefield High School explained, "It's information but there's also news where it's biased."

Senior Laurel Veit, 17, added, "It actually makes me a little bit upset that someone would want to deceive the public in a way that could potentially skew a viewpoint."

A recent Stanford University study found more than 80 percent of students surveyed who saw an ad marked "Sponsored Content" thought it was a real news story.

At Wakefield in Arlington, Virginia, students are learning how to assess the validity of what they read.

Using the expertise of journalists from mainstream news organizations, Checkology Virtual Classroom, from the News Literacy Project, teaches students how to recognize the red flags of inaccurate information.

D.C. Regional Program Manager of the News Literacy Project Elis Estrada shared how the online tool works, "These virtual teachers are guiding them through these concepts about what are the types of information that they're coming across. Is it propaganda, is it news, is it an opinion, is it an advertisement?"

Senior Shannon Kelly said the program has made her more discerning.

"I can tell when someone's just trying to get their opinion across or when they're actually reporting something," Kelly said.

Mykayla Duran-Johns continued, "You can easily tell like within an article title whether it's going to be heavily biased."

Teacher Patricia Hunt emphasized how Checkology is improving critical thinking skills.

I want them to have the tools to even check me. So, I've supplied them with an article, have I given them something that's credible?" she asked.

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