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21Things4Students: Identifying 'Fake News'


Tech Product/Equipment:
Computer and projector, Mobile devices for students

Activity Description

The 21st century requires our students to learn how to use technology effectively. That also includes Digital Citizenship. The website 21Thngs4Students addresses 21 areas of Digital Citizenship. In this lesson, students will learn ways to determine if websites or news stories contain real or fake news.


  1. Check the website to ensure it is not blocked at your site.
  2. Read through the lesson plan.
  3. Print and make copies of any handouts.


1. Go to the website, 21Things4Students, Fake or Real News and explore the materials, links etc. Each web quest starts with a video introduction, Key Vocabulary (which includes a Vocabulary Game: Quzlet activity) and Steps.1 and 3 are recommended. Preview the videos. 

2. Preview the video What is the CRAAP Test?

3. Explore the Fact Check websites:, Snopes, and PolitiFact 

4. Explore online news sources: CNN, ABC News, Huffington Post, and Fox News.

5. Watch the TedTalk How We can Protect Truth in the Age of Misinformation

Teacher Tips

The website 21Things4Students is rich with lessons on Digital Literacy. 

More Ways

Preview the handout Real or Fake News.

Program Areas

  • ABE: Adult Basic Education
  • ESL: English as a Second Language
  • ASE: High School Equivalency Preparation
  • ASE: High School Diploma
  • CTE: Career Technical Education


  • Intermediate
  • High
  • Intermediate Low
  • Intermediate High
  • Advanced

Lesson Plan


Asj students what has happened in the world recently. In pairs, have students discuss whether they thing any of the stories are real or fake news. As a whole group, discuss the stories.

Engagement Enhancement

What is 'fake' news? How can you tell? In pairs, students discuss ways they decide if a story is true or false. Join together in the whole group and bring up what was mentioned in each group.

Why is it important to be able to identify if a story is real or fake? Fake news can spread quickly and then, because everyone is saying it, the story appears to be true. 

How does social media factor into this? In pairs students discuss the social media they use and the influence it has. Gather as a full group and discuss.

How can you determine if it is fake or true? show the video on the CRAAP test method 

Using an online discussion area like jamboard or padlet, have students discuss the usefullness and importance of the CRAAP test. Why are each of the five areas necessary? Which is most important? Why?

Engagement Enhancement

Begin the unit, Fake or Real News, by introducing the vocabulary words. (scroll down the page to Key Vocabulary) You can use the handout Fake or Real News in this resource.

Watch the video at the top of the site together. What problems do the characters encounter? How do they plan to solve them?

In pairs, students review the definitions. If you want more practice with the Vocabulary words, select the Vocabulary Game below the list of words. This opens a Quizlet where students can practice the words.

Gather the students as a group, watch the video How false news can spread by Noah Tavlin. It is  Step 1 on the lesson, Fake or Real News 

In pairs, students discuss the video. Gather as a group discuss social media and its influence.

The last element of the CRAAP test is Purpose: why the author wrote the article. Is it objective or biased? To learn more about bias, scroll down to Step 3. watch the video to explore ways to identify bias.

After the video, discuss the ways mentioned in the video. Have pairs discuss then gather the entire group. You can also use Jamboard, Padlet or Flip for students to present their idea.


Engagement Enhancement

Every day there are news stories that are misleading. Are they factual?

  • Select a current news story for the students to explore. You can use one of the online news sites CNN, ABC News, Huffington Post, Fox News
  • Decide on which of the fact-checking sites you want your students to use. If they are tech savvy you can have each pair use a different site, but if they are new to investigating new stories, select one site and have each pair of students use the same site.
  • Demonstrate hoiw to use the three site(s): FactCheck.orgSnopes, and Politifact Point out that ads around the articles can distract your search.
  • For this practice, student pairs will use a fact-checking website to investigate the current news story selected. On a padlet or jamboard, answer the questions: 1. What does the fact-check site say about the story? 2. How accurate is the reporting in the story?
  • Gather as a group to discuss the findings.
Engagement Enhancement
  • As pairs students select a news story from an online news source:  CNNABC NewsHuffington Post, Fox News
  • Use one or more of the fact-ckecking sites to decide how accurate the story is FactCheck.orgSnopes, and Politifact
  • Type your findings on the class padlet/jamboard.
  • Share your findings in a discussion with the class
Engagement Enhancement Extension

Students find a current headline, investigate the facts and report to the class at the next class meeting.

Engagement Enhancement Extension

Watch the TED Talk How we can protect truth in the age of misinformation

Students identify and discuss the five strategies recommended. Students bring stories they find to discuss with the class.



  • Language Arts - Reading
    • Analysis
    • Comprehension
    • Inference and Interpretation
    • Synthesis and Generalization
  • Reading
    • Critical Thinking/Decision Making
    • Vocabulary

CTE Anchor Standards

  • Anchor Standard 2: Communications - Language Standard: Acquire and accurately use general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the (career and college) readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
  • Anchor Standard 5: Problem Solving and Critical Thinking - Writing Standard: Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem, narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate, and synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.


Reading, search, digital footprint, digital literacy, fake news

Creative Commons License

CC BY-SA:This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms.
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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.