Magazine Feature

Digital Literacy Toolkit

In this toolkit, you’ll find discussion questions and activities that build on TT’s Digital Literacy Videos. The videos, questions and activities are designed to introduce students to the skills and competencies outlined in the Digital Literacy Framework.

These discussion questions and activities will help you make the most of TT’s Digital Literacy Videos. The short, student-friendly videos take the skills and competencies outlined in the Teaching Tolerance Digital Literacy Framework and make them fun! For each video, you’ll find a series of discussion questions along with activities or “Do Something” tasks. Teach them individually or in sequence. 


Essential Questions

  1. How does “fake” news become news?
  2. How can we balance our media diets?
  3. How can we counter hate speech online?



The short Digital Literacy Videos can be streamed online. Questions and activities for each video are available below.


How Does “Fake” News Become News? 

Discussion Questions

  • Think of a time that confirmation bias persuaded you to believe something you should have been skeptical about. For example, maybe you once believed an article that states “people who are late are the most creative” or a rumor about someone you didn’t like. Do you think you might have other confirmation biases? About what?
  • What are some “filter bubbles” that you—or we as a class—might be living in? For example, we may rarely hear about international news that doesn’t involve the United States. How could we break out of this “filter bubble”?  
  • How do “echo chambers” and “filter bubbles” limit our ability to check facts?
  • What is a “signal booster”? How do they contribute to the spreading of misinformation?
  • What are some ways we can fact-check for ourselves?
  • How has the meaning of the term “fake news” changed over time?


Activity: The Telephone Game

Try out a real-life version of the “telephone game.” Start by telling one of your students about a fake event that is going to take place in the classroom the following day—a guest speaker on a specific topic or a reward for a particular accomplishment. Let them know they can share the information with their classmates, but they shouldn’t share how they found out.  

At the time the fake event is supposed to take place, ask students what they expect. Explain that the original message came from you, what it was, and debrief how even simple messages can quickly be distorted. Discuss ways students could have fact-checked the rumor. Some possible answers include asking you, questioning the student who told them, checking a school calendar or talking to another friend. After the activity, consider sharing a reward with them anyway for taking part in the “fake news” exercise.


Do Something: Spread the Word 

Have students create a brochure, infographic or PSA outlining ways to verify information they find online. If possible, find a way for them to share their products or presentations with other students at your school.


How to Balance Your Media Diet 

Discussion Questions

  • Where do you get your news? When significant events happen, how do you learn about them?
  • How has the format of television news (and cable news) changed the way topics are discussed and presented to their audience?
  • How does the design of the current media landscape (e.g., news alerts, app badges, algorithms and news tailored to our interest) encourage “filter bubbles” or “echo chambers”?
  • How do you seek out differing perspectives or stories that are not trending? 
  • How can we benefit from reading stories that are not trending?
  • We use context clues to help us read. How can they help us determine if a story is trustworthy? What might be some clues to look for? Point out that possible context clues might include the source of the story, the inclusion—or lack—of evidence, the choice of experts or eyewitnesses quoted, the index on infographics and the article’s grammar and word choice (including academic or biased language). 


Activity: Analyzing Photographs

Access photographs of Manzanar Internment Camp through the NPR Code Switch article “Photos: 3 Different Views of Japanese Internment.” Two images, particularly, can be used to show students how framing can be used to create a false narrative.

Begin by showing students the image of the woman standing outside the door. Ask them to write down their observations about the photo and make assumptions about the woman and her surroundings. Next, show the image of the horse stall barracks where Japanese-American people were forced to live. Have them repeat the observation process with what they see now. 

As you discuss the ways in which framing can affect the story we take from the news, encourage students to consider not only what is different in the two photographs, but also how the two different photographs might be used to back different stories about Japanese-American internment, who might be presenting these stories, and why they might want readers or viewers to believe their story. Consider having students research and look for their own examples of framing impacting narrative, past and present.


Activity: Social Media Scavenger Hunt

Give students a short amount of time (say, five minutes) to look through a few of their social media accounts. Ask them to find the following:

  • A link to an article they agree with (one that confirms their values).
  • A link to an article they disagree with (one that pushes against their values).
  • A link to news that they’re interested in.
  • A link to news they’re not interested in. 
  • A piece of news from a trustworthy source.
  • A piece of news from an untrustworthy source.

After they’ve looked, ask students: Which of these were easiest to find? Which were hardest? Ask them to hypothesize why this is the case.

In small groups or as a class, brainstorm ways that students could diversify their social media accounts. Brainstorm people or accounts they might follow to broaden the range of ideas and news they encounter.


Countering Online Hate Speech 

Discussion Questions

  • Think of a time when you saw someone say something hurtful or offensive online. What did you do? If you could go back to that moment, what would you do differently, if anything?
  • What is a “digital footprint”? How does it relate to online hate speech? Do you think that people would be less likely to post offensive or hateful speech online if they knew the consequences? Why or why not? 
  • What are some potential consequences of online hate speech?
  • Which strategies can be used for countering hate speech? Which strategies should we avoid? Why?


Activity: Speak Up Online

Provide students with online or paper copies of TT’s Speak Up At School, which includes four recommended strategies for speaking out against biased language. Ask students to consider:  How could these strategies be used in online?  

Provide students a few scenarios in which they might have to “speak up” online (e.g., they encounter a sexist comment on a YouTube video, an acquaintance tweets an ageist meme, or a neighbor makes bullying comments beneath a Facebook post about immigration.) Ask them to work in groups to respond to the scenario, adapting the four strategies of the guide for online interactions. Have them present their responses in writing or act them out for the class.


Do Something: Make a Meme

Have students create their own meme that combats stereotypes, spreads a positive message or builds up a group of people. Students could even create an image or comic to help spread positivity around a certain identity or group. 

Once they have worked individually or in groups to create their memes, have students post them around the room for a gallery walk so that their classmates and invited staff or peers can see. Taking into consideration how the memes are created (digitally or physically), compile the memes so that students can access them outside of class time. Perhaps they will even have an opportunity to share them online, and can report back to tell the class about their experience.

Add to an Existing Learning Plan
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