Stanford Releases “Civic Online Reasoning” Curriculum: Powerful Lessons in Discerning Fact from Fake

I am delighted to share the new set of curricula from the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG), “Civic Online Reasoning.” This set of teaching resources adds to SHEG’s already impressive contributions to the field of media literacy. A key proponent of the “lateral reading” method of online fact checking, SHEG’s “Civic Online Reasoning” curricula takes this method and makes it much more accessible for students.

Here’s the intro video explaining their approach:

Their curricula is divided into three collections: “Intro Lessons,” “Teaching Lateral Reading” and “A Little of Everything.” Within those collections, a teacher can find a variety of lessons and activities that they can use to get their students exploring how to discern fact from fake on the web, social media, and elsewhere.

I really appreciated the use of real world examples, from web sites to tweets to Instagram posts. These really ground the lessons into skills that a student can use every day, whether they are in class or anywhere.

The videos and graphics associated with the lessons are all very high quality, engaging, and age-appropriate. And while the curricula don’t recommend what grades or ages the lessons would be most appropriate for, most of them have a “basic” and “in-depth” version that a teacher can choose from.

I do think that while the content is excellent, the organization of the materials could be better. A busy teacher would be looking for the following when they decide whether or not to use these in their classroom:

  • Grade Level
  • Curricular connections
  • Time to implement

But none of those important bits of information are included in the lessons.

That aside, “Civic Online Reasoning” is a tremendous contribution to the field, and one that I know I will be returning to again and again when teachers ask about how to teach media analysis and online source evaluation to their students. Definitely check it out!

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