Free Fake News Classroom Poster


The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions has released an excellent poster for your classroom identifying 'How to spot Fake News"

It can be downloaded here

Recently we posted an insightful article about teaching Fake News in your classroom and I can highly recommend reading it here.

Discussions about fake news has led to a new focus on media literacy more broadly, and the role of libraries and other education institutions in providing this.

When Oxford Dictionaries announced post-truth was Word of the Year 2016, we as librarians realise action is needed to educate and advocate for critical thinking – a crucial skill when navigating the information society.

IFLA has made this infographic with eight simple steps (based on’s 2016 article How to Spot Fake News)  to discover the verifiability of a given news-piece in front of you. Download, print, translate, and share – at home, at your library, in your local community, and on social media networks. The more we crowdsource our wisdom, the wiser the world becomes.

How to teach students about fake news in the real world

Fake News has been with us for generations

Fake News has been with us for generations

Whatever Donald Trump’s legacy as president of the United States becomes he will forever be known as the protagonist for bringing two key terms to the modern vocabulary.  “Fake News” and “Alternative Truths”

Whilst Trump’s delivery and intent of these terms are contentious there is no debate he called out the elephant in the room when talking about news and journalism in the context of modern technology.  

Facebook, Twitter, blogging and an endless army of social media tools have provided a platform for anyone with a WiFi connection and a device the opportunity to voice their opinion and consider themselves a journalist, social crusader, paid opinion or blatant liar...

The propagation of questionable “news” content has skyrocketed out of control at pace with the growth of the internet.  Content creation today is virtually free without any need for fact-checking or validation.  Today’s news cycle is now driven by the need to be first as opposed to providing insight, truth and depth behind a story.

Our students are growing up in a world dominated by fake news on the platforms they look too most frequently for truth and reassurance.

21st-century media is out of control, living off the reputation of two centuries of professional journalism operating within an environment in which printing, publishing and televising news was an expensive and competitive game in which “fake news” and “alternative truths” could sink an organisation and end a career in instantly.

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook creator and founder has the loudest voice on earth, with 3.15 billion active users log into Facebook at least once per month.  He has the loudest voice in history, and it’s not even close.  No individual or organization has actively controlled what half the earth’s population can see, say or share.  And all without any regulation.

Facebook is valued at over $500 Billion, with Zuckerberg’s wealth entirely generated by selling our data.  The flow of this data is controlled by algorithms.  Secret algorithms that are completely hidden by Facebook.  This denial of transparency underpinned by our governments who clearly value the profitability of big business over free speech, privacy and protection of our rights.

We must understand that Facebook is drinking water from a fire hydrant here and get a lot more wrong than right.  Mark Zuckerberg is still wiping the egg from his face after he was forced to admit they completely bungled the flow of information and content from Russian hackers that may potentially have put Trump in office.

For Zuckerberg, a man with an endless cash flow, and the largest soapbox in history and surely has an eye on the White House at some point will be forever dogged as being asleep at the switch in a critical moment of global history.

As educators, we must value this understanding of fake news, and a greater understanding of algorithmic design and suppression and release of data as an essential skill for our students.  And we are already starting from a long way back.

As teachers and education systems what are we doing to move fake news from the top of our news feed back to the “News of the world?”

What skills and knowledge do our teachers and students need to outsmart a journalist who got their degree from Walmart.

Sugata Mitra, globally renowned educational researcher believes today’s students need only three essential skills beyond a basic elementary education that are based on sorting facts from fiction, enquiring and acting.

Skip ahead to 9:54 to hear Sugata Mitra discussing his three essential skills for modern students

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Information Search and Retrieval Skills
  • Teach students to both question and believe things they read and see.

Mitra identifies these skills as essential for students in arming them with the skills to oppose doctrine and think and act for themselves.

Teaching “Fake News” in the classroom is surely an essential skill for any student with access to social media and uses the internet to seek out information about the world around us.

We need to teach them the key elements of fake news

  • Rumor Mill
  • Satire
  • Paid Opinions
  • Click bait
  • Bias
  • Fake News

What are they?  What is entertainment? What is news?  How can I report or respond to this?

The internet is not driven by free speech or good will, but by search engine optimization and keyword stuffing.  Internet success is more about being page one on Google or first with a news story rather than being correct or the best at what you do.

We have an obligation to our students to share this knowledge with them from a very young age.

We need to explore and discuss what living in a world in which we cannot trust the media and news, in general, might be like.  It’s quite frightening.  Facebook is currently creating regime of doubt and mistrust in news and media as we speak but assures us “they have got this”

Of course, we will never know as there is no transparency or government regulation around the content they run on Facebook.  Ironically the government could shut down NBC tomorrow for major breaches of ‘Fake News” but they can do nothing to control Facebook.

FAKE NEWS (3).png


A complete unit of work on how to teach students to analyze news and social media to get verifiable facts.  ALL CONTENT, RESOURCES AND ASSESSMENT TOOLS INCLUDED.

This is the type of FAKE NEWS we can live with

This is the type of FAKE NEWS we can live with

We must teach our students the difference between a fact and opinion.  Twenty years ago it used to be what someone thinks as opposed to what was published in a nonfiction book such as an encyclopedia.  Today a student probably considers what Siri tells them to be a fact, and maybe what their teacher tells them to be an opinion.  The lines have become very blurred but we cannot avoid dealing with this issue.

How do students seek a second opinion, be it on the internet or otherwise and what weight can I place on different news sources?  These are all issues we just took for granted in a post-internet world.

Technology is not going anywhere, and nor is our dependence upon it for news.  Ignoring this issue will not make it go away.  Become a teacher who understands and accepts that we are the products of organizations such as Google, Facebook and Amazon and if we see content or behavior in these spaces that simply does not pass the sniff test that we can either call it out or step off the train until we are comfortable it is taking us to a better place.

Fake news has and always still exist but we just need to start teaching our students that in the real world they do not have to accept it.

50 Literary terms every English teacher should know

My english teacher knew more cliche's than you can poke a stick at

My english teacher knew more cliche's than you can poke a stick at

Every aspect of life has its own vocabulary.  Jargon, lingo and terminology which is essential to function in that field of expertise and appear credible to those around you.  

As an English teacher, tutor or even a student there are some essential terms required to run and participate in an effective English class.

Knowing these literary terms and their meanings will greatly enhance your students learning opportunities and enhance your own professional understanding of your craft.

Hopefully, you already know most of these but here is the definitive list of what you need to know in order to 'walk the walk, and talk the talk' as a quality English teacher

Accented:   a word, syllable, or musical note or chord) stressed or emphasized.

Allegory:  A story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.

Alliteration:  The occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words. ‘the alliteration of ‘sweet birds sang’’

Analysis:  Detailed examination of the elements or structure of something.

Assonance:  Resemblance of sound between syllables of nearby words, arising particularly from the rhyming of two or more stressed vowels, but not consonants (e.g. sonnet, porridge), but also from the use of identical consonants with different vowels (e.g. killed, cold, culled) ‘the use of assonance throughout the poem creates the sound of despair’

Ballad:  A poem or song narrating a story in short stanzas. Traditional ballads are typically of unknown authorship, having been passed on orally from one generation to the next.

Biography:  An account of someone's life written by someone else.

Character:  A person in a novel, play, or film. - The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. 

Chiasmus:  A rhetorical or literary figure in which words, grammatical constructions, or concepts are repeated in reverse order. 

Chronological:  following the order in which they occurred.

Cliche:  A phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.‘that old cliché ‘a woman's place is in the home’’



Comparison:  A consideration or estimate of the similarities or dissimilarities between two things or people.

‘they drew a comparison between Gandhi's teaching and that of other teachers’

Contrast:  The state of being strikingly different from something else in juxtaposition or close association.

‘the day began cold and blustery, in contrast to almost two weeks of uninterrupted sunshine’  

Description:  A spoken or written account of a person, object, or event.

Dialogue:  A conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or film.

Drama:  A play for theatre, radio, or television.

Epic:  A long poem, typically one derived from ancient oral tradition, narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures or the past history of a nation.

Fact:  A thing that is known or proved to be true.

Fantasy:  A genre of imaginative fiction involving magic and adventure, especially in a setting other than the real world.

Fiction:  Literature in the form of prose, especially novels, that describes imaginary events and people.

A figure of speech:  A word or phrase used in a non-literal sense for rhetorical or vivid effect.

Fairy Tale:  A children's story about magical and imaginary beings and lands; a fairy story.

Folk Tale:  A story originating in popular culture, typically passed on by word of mouth.

Form:  The structure of a word, phrase, sentence, or discourse.

Generalization:  A general statement or concept obtained by inference from specific cases.

Genre:  A style or category of art, music, or literature.

Hyperbole:  Exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.

Idiom:  A group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words (e.g. over the moon, see the light).

Imagery:  Visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work.

Inference:  A conclusion reached on the basis of evidence and reasoning.

Isn't it ironic?

Isn't it ironic?

Irony:  The expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.

Kenning:  A compound expression in Old English and Old Norse poetry with metaphorical meaning, e.g. oar-steed = ship.

Metaphor:  A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.

Metonymy:  A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.

Moral:  A lesson that can be derived from a story or experience.

Motive:  A reason for doing something.

Narrative Poetry:  Poetry that tells a story.

Narrator:  A person who narrates something, especially a character who recounts the events of a novel or narrative poem.

Non-fiction:  Prose writing that is informative or factual rather than fictional.

Novel:  A fictitious prose narrative of book length, typically representing character and action with some degree of realism.

Ode:  A lyric poem, typically one in the form of an address to a particular subject, written in varied or irregular meter.

Onomatopoeia: in action in many comics

Onomatopoeia: in action in many comics

Onomatopoeia:  the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named (e.g. cuckoosizzle ).

Oxymoron:  A figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g. faith unfaithful kept him falsely true).

Personification:  The attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something non-human, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form.

Plot:  The main events of a play, novel, film, or similar work, devised and presented by the writer as an interrelated sequence.

Poetry:  Literary work in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity by the use of distinctive style and rhythm; poems collectively or as a genre of literature.

Point of view:   (in fictional writing) the narrator's position in relation to a story being told.

Predictions:  A thing predicted; a forecast.

Rhyme:   A short poem in which the sound of the word or syllable at the end of each line corresponds with that at the end of another.

Rhythm:  The measured flow of words and phrases in verse or prose as determined by the relation of long and short or stressed and unstressed syllables.

Science Fiction:  Fiction based on imagined future scientific or technological advances and major social or environmental changes, frequently portraying space or time travel and life on other planets.

Sequence:  A particular order in which related things follow each other.

Setting:  The place or type of surroundings where something is positioned or where an event takes place.

Similes are great fun to teach

Similes are great fun to teach

Simile:  A figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid (e.g. as brave as a lion).

Solution:  A means of solving a problem or dealing with a difficult situation.

Stanza:  A group of lines forming the basic recurring metrical unit in a poem; a verse.

Theme:  An idea that recurs in or pervades a work of art or literature.

Voice:  The distinctive tone or style of a literary work or author.

How to automate reading diary collection in your classroom.


I have to share with you one of the best teaching resources we at have encountered in a long time. It is a can’t miss from our perspective.  

This tool will save you and your students a world of frustration and time when it comes to collecting data and evidence about reading at home.

Home reading diaries have traditionally been almost a punitive process for students and parents to manage at home. The notion of simply capturing numbers of pages read alongside a parent has no educational merit, providing almost no insight as to what challenged and captured student attention during the process of reading.

Furthermore, to add insult to injury, you (the teacher) continues this pointless process in the classroom by chasing up diaries just to see who has or hasn’t read recently. What are we teaching and learning here?

In the digital era, collecting reading data could and should be so much simpler, and provide in-depth assessment for students about what they read, and build a meaningful profile of insights, challenges and further learning opportunities arose from it.

"Never collect a reading diary or log again" is the promise associated with the Digital Reading Log and I can totally verify that this to be true.  It also  offers so much more potential for you as an assessment tool than chasing reading diaries on a regular basis.  I will never go back..

It took me about 15 minutes to set this up for my class for the year and now I just log into my computer for a detailed analysis of my students reading habits... That's it I'm sorted for the year...

I get crucial information about aspects of reading that challenged my students and data I can use to guide future English lessons and my data collection for reports on reading is all here in one place waiting for me.

The feature I love most of all about this resource is how it adapts depending on the genre of book being being read. Non-Fiction and Fiction books are completely completely different reading experiences and require their own set of questions about how they were read, and what was learned from them.

Even though this resource will set you back a few dollars, ( I paid $8.00 USD ) this lifelong tool will save you hours of conflict and provide a wealth of reading data for years. Furthermore, you can customize any aspect of it to suit your student needs.

Check out the link and the video for yourself.  It cost me the same as a couple of cups of coffee but I would pay double in a heartbeat to have done this earlier in my career.  

Check it out here for yourelf, and if you have used this or something similar we'd love to hear about it. 

Free Facebook profile activity for English students

You kids will love creating their own Facebook Character Cubes with our completely free and simple to use template.

This versatile mock Facebook cube can be applied to any number of activites such as a character profile from books, films, games etc, quick biography task, all about me or plenty of other alternatives.

It contains the 6 elements of Facebook most relevant to students.
- Photo
- About
- Status Updates
- Friends
- Timeline
- Share a memory

It is completely editable and can be undertaken as a simple pen and paper task or an editable PowerPoint and Google Drive (Slides) task for students who have access to a technology.

Simply follow the instructions and away you go... NO PREP REQUIRED!!

Download it here completely free today!!

Tips for Managing Guided Reading with Large Class Sizes

This list was compiled by Christine Fankell, Elementary Literacy Facilitator, Livonia Public Schools, MI

Create a guided reading group meeting schedule. Vary the frequency that you plan to meet with each group. Meet more frequently with struggling readers and less frequently with proficient readers.

  • Use a timer to keep your guided reading lessons to 20 minutes. In Next Step Guided Reading, Jan Richardson makes suggestions for the length of each part of the lesson. You can also time the individual parts of the lesson to get a feel for the recommended pace of the guided reading lesson.

  • Work with short texts. The text that you use should be something that can be read in one or two guided reading lessons.

  • Have all the materials you will need for the guided reading lesson organized and ready so that you don’t need to search for things once the lesson is underway. There are suggestions for organizing materials on Jan Richardson’s website as well as in Spaces and Places (Diller).

  • Consider what you can prep ahead of time to save precious minutes during the lesson. For example, you might consider tabbing the student text to mark spots where the students should stop and write about their thinking.

  • With a larger class, you may also have to increase the size of your guided reading groups. Ideally you would want your groups to consist of no more than 6 students. With larger class sizes this maximum may have to be increased to 8 for students reading on and above grade level. Keep your below level groups at six or less.

  • Try to limit the total number of guided reading groups to no more than five. Remember that you can form groups of students that are reading a few levels apart. For example you might have an M/N guided reading group that has a common instructional need. For upper grades, you might work with students who are reading at levels S, T, and U because they all need to work on summarizing.

  • Where it makes sense to do so, thread the teaching point from your reading workshop mini lesson into your guided reading work. This will give you the opportunity to provide additional scaffolded support for students who need it.

40 Amazing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Teaching ideas

This week we are giving away a freebie to one of the most loved children's books of all time.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

This matrix offers over 40 activities for students based on Bloom's Taxonomy and Gardiner's multiple intelligence's for Roald Dahl's timeless Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  It is a must have for students and teachers looking for new and innovative ways to teach this great story with you Over 40 great Wonka Activities

Click here to download the freebie and if you really want to go all in Charlie and teach a complete unit on it I can strongly recommend this 57 page book full of great ideas about Willy Wonka and his amazing chocolate factory.

Free Fable Planning Tool

Fables are an excellent genre of writing that has served a purpose in literacy and society for thousands of years. 

Fables were originally created as short stories intended to teach children a message or moral through great story telling.  Almost everyone is aware of the story of "The boy who cried wolf" and any child can make the connection from the story that consistent lying will cause you grave harm.

Aesop is the undisputed master of the Fable and he created hundreds of them using animals as key characters to portray certain human traits.

The reason a fox is referred to as cunning or the lamb as a perpetual innocent victim comes from Aesop's fables.

This tool assists students to create engaging fables based upon the model we have been using for generations.  It is best printed in a larger format so as your students can visually represent their ideas alongside written ones and is completely free and available here.

The fable planning tool is part of a massive 90 page unit of work around fables.  It has been incredibly popular (read the reviews.) and is available as a premium product here.