Catholic School Matters

January 22, 2017

SPECIAL ISSUE: Combatting Fake News

As the presidential campaign wore on last fall, there was a lot of fake news being circulated. And despite the best efforts of Facebook, I don’t imagine this will stop any time soon. I think educators have been slow to react because so much is political and discussions about politics can become explosive in our schools. But we cannot ignore this issue. I suggest there are two approaches to combat this problem and educate our students (and parents) effectively. We must establish a certain level of facts and simultaneously begin a program of media literacy in our curricula.


What facts are certain? I’ve even heard the assertion that we living in “post-facts” world where everyone’s opinion is valid. We have to resist this relativism. After all, when someone argues that the Holocaust didn’t happen, it’s not only wrong, it’s dangerous. When people argue that our President wasn’t born in the United States after it has been widely disproved, it is dangerous. We simply cannot allow anyone with an opinion or a website or a microphone to spout lies that undermine our country.


Our schools need to do better to establish scientific facts: vaccines don’t cause autism, species evolve, climate change is happening, segregation and oppression are part of our heritage. Schools are not intellectual democracies where every idea is as good as the next one. Schools should teach the truth. Now if someone has religious beliefs that don’t allow acceptance of those truths, those people can believe what they want on their own time. But in schools, truth should be espoused. And conspiracy theories should be met with large amounts of skepticism.


The second tactic should be media literacy. As a history teacher, we spent time looking at original sources to ascertain their veracity, their biases, and their message. We have all learned that just because something is written, it’s not true. But I don’t think we’re there yet with the Internet.


Below are a collection of stories, articles, and links which will help you learn about fake news, how to teach it, and what you can do.


How to Identify Fake News

1. 10 Ways to Spot a Fake News Article by EasyBib Blog

2. 4 Steps Schools Should Take to Combat Fake News by HuffPost

3. Lisa Nielsen’s take on Fake News

4. Battling Fake News in the Classroom by Edutopia

5. Fake News Antidote: Teaching Kids to Discern Fact from Fiction by NPR

6. 5 Strategies for Spotting Fake News (and why you need to) by Global Citizen

7. The Greatest Gift: Teaching Kids to Fight Fake News by Todd’s Brain

8. Combating Fake News by web20blog

9. The Problem with Fake News and how you can solve it (video) by John Spencer

10. Can you Tell Fake News from Real? by NPR

11. Most Student Don’t Know When Stories are Fake by Wall Street Journal

12. The Best Tips for Identifying Fake News in the Age of Trump by Teen Vogue


Social Media Curriculum

1. Eight Document-based Lessons by the University of Portland

2. Why Every High School Should Teach a Social Media Class by Medium

3. How to Integrate Social Studies Passages Across the Curriculum by ClassTechTips


General Fake News Articles

1. The Pot-Belly of Ignorance by Medium

2. Schopenauer on the Dangers of Clickbait by Farnam Street

3. Raising Media-Savvy Kids in the Age of Fake News by CNN

4. The Remedy for Fake News? History Teachers by Smithsonian

5. Why People Believe Fake Stories like ‘Pizza-gate’ by CNN

6. How a Fake News Story was Written by New York Times


Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

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"Catholic School Matters" Podcast

Tomorrow, Episode #20 will drop. It will include an interview with John Eriksen of the Drexel Fund. John will discuss the philanthropic efforts of the Drexel Fun investing in the future of Catholic schools. Last week, Episode #19 dropped and included an interview with the dynamic leader of the Catholic schools of the Diocese of San Diego, John Galvan. John talks about new intitatives in his Diocese and his philosophy of leadership


Here is the link to the podcast on iTunes. Please subscribe to the podcast so new episodes will automatically download. The show is also available on Stitcher and Google Play. If you don't have accounts with any of those content providers, here is the link to my basic page with the podcasts.

Last week, Dr. Uhl blogged about:


  • TUESDAY: Reflections on John Galvan's podcast entitled "Relational Leadership"
  • WEDNESDAY: The Wednesday Book Blog about Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. The father of cognitive psychology and the concept of learned helplessness, his ideas formed the basis for Growth Mindset and Grit.
  • FRIDAY: "Fake News"


This week, Dr. Uhl will blog about:


  • TUESDAY: Reflections on John Eriksen's podcast.
  • WEDNESDAY: The Wednesday Book Blog will be about Song of the Dodo by David Quammen. Does the study of island biogeography and extinction apply to Catholic schools?
  • FRIDAY: "Vouchers & School Choice"


You can find and subscribe to the blog at drtimuhl.com

The Week Ahead

Monday: office (Helena)

Tuesday: Virtual Administrator Meetings (9 am & 1 pm)

Wed: School Choice rally & Missoula Catholic School Board mtg

Thurs: Helena meetings

Fri: office (Helena)


Next week: 315 miles

Last week: 1,346 miles

2016-17: 21,665 driving miles; 14,376 air miles

What I'm Reading 2016-17

  1. Redeeming Administration by Ann Garrido.
  2. Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be by Frank Bruni. (finished)
  3. Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer (finished)
  4. Stall Points by Matthew S. Olson & Derek van Bever (finished)
  5. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (finished)
  6. Why Don't Kids Like School? by Daniel Willingham (finished)
  7. Tom Clancy: Commander in Chief by Mark Greaney (finished)
  8. Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert Putnam (finished)
  9. The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (finished)
  10. Reading with the daughter: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (7 books, finished).
  11. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (finished)
  12. The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey (finished)
  13. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (finished)
  14. The Purple Goldfish by Stan Phelps (finished)
  15. The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen (finished)
  16. Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. (finished)
  17. Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption Cragun & Sweetman (finished)
  18. Cultures Built to Last: Systemic PLCs at Work by Fullan and DuFour (finished)
  19. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (finished)
  20. Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time by Margaret J. Wheatley (finished)
  21. The Orange Frog by Shawn Achor (finished)

For Principals & Teachers

  1. National School Choice Week is Jan 22-28. Click here to receive your free materials. There is a School Choice rally in Helena on January 25th. Catholic Schools Week is the next week (Jan 29-Feb 4).
  2. Montana Catholic Schools now has a new Facebook page. and Pinterest board. Please like them so I can share marketing material there.
  3. On the Horizon:
  • Virtual Leadership Meetings Jan 24th 9 am or 1 pm. Here are the login details. Here is the link to the Principal Portal and you can find the meeting slideshow link.
  • 7th/8th grade days at the legislature Feb 24th

How To Identify Fake News

The Problem with Fake News (and how our students can solve it)

Social Media Curricula

Miscellaneous Fake News Articles