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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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11. News as Text: A Pedagogy for Connecting News Reading and Newswriting



The most important thing I learned was that bias can be unintentional and sneaky. It is really important to always question if things were written as stated facts or opinions.

—First Year Writing Student

When they enter the first-year writing classroom, students do not always know when—never mind how—to question if things were written as facts or opinions, as the first-semester freshman notes above. The problem is not confined to students alone. As Dana Gioia wrote in the preface to his executive summary for the National Endowment for the Arts’ study To Read or Not Read, that reading in general is declining across the American populace, and that, “as Americans, especially younger Americans, read less, they read less well” (2007, p. 3). While Gioia’s study concentrates on literary reading, his caution that these developments “have demonstrable social, economic, cultural, and civic implications” (2007, p. 3) feel particularly relevant even a decade on, when we consider students’ news reading abilities in the fake news era. The recent Stanford History Education Group’s study of more than 7,000 student responses to civic online reasoning exercises found that middle school, high school, and college students alike were “easily duped” when evaluating information passed along through social media channels (Evaluating information, 2016, p. 4).

In A Writer’s Guide to Mindful Reading (2017), Ellen Carillo urges students to see reading and writing as active, meaning-making processes. She encourages students to create...

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