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Teaching Critical Reading and Writing in the Era of Fake News


Edited By Ellen C. Carillo and Alice S. Horning

This collection offers support for instructors who are concerned about students’ critical literacy abilities. Attending to critical reading to help students navigate fake news, as well as other forms of disinformation and misinformation, is the job of instructors across all disciplines, but is especially important for college English instructors because students’ reading problems play out in many and varied ways in students’ writing. The volume includes chapters that analyze the current information landscape by examining assorted approaches to the wide-ranging types of materials available on and offline and offers strategies for teaching critical reading and writing in first-year composition and beyond. The chapters herein bring fresh perspectives on a range of issues, including ways to teach critical digital reading, ecological models that help students understand fake news, and the ethical questions that inform teaching in such a climate. With each chapter offering practical, research-based advice this collection underscores not just the importance of attending to reading, particularly in the era of fake news, but precisely how to do so.

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2. The Reading Moves of Writing Teachers Debating Online



“Look fellas …. I’m feeling just a little ‘mansplained’ here,” Michelle LaFrance wrote on October 22, 2018, in an email to the Writing Program Administrators Listserv (WPA-L), the most prominent online forum in writing studies. The day before, LaFrance had asked scholars and teachers on the list for examples of “Rubrics to Assess Writing Assignments.” While a few folks responded to share examples, a few others responded to comment more broadly, and skeptically, on the use of rubrics. Those folks, senior scholars in the field, were men. LaFrance’s reply reading their comments as “mansplaining” lit a heated debate about that term that blazed through the end of the month, sparking over five hundred posts from more than two hundred readers, with an unknown number of folks, including me, reading along silently.

This fractious discussion reproduced some negative features of the larger political discourse in the United States, including polarization, willful ignorance, sexist and racist comments, personal attacks, and drastic misreadings. “Frankly, I blame Trump for all of this,” wrote Steve Krause six days in. “We are all constantly bombarded with a political climate that is so crass, unhinged, combative, mean, stupid, and balkanized … This toxicity is leaking into our daily lives” (Oct 27). But while Krause saw toxicity reproduced, Janet Zepernick saw it also repudiated. “This has been by far the most transformative instance of discourse in any community of practice I have ever witnessed,” she wrote a few days later (Oct...

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