One of the great and scary things about teaching and working with elementary students is that they believe much of what they read on the Internet. I’ve had students raise their hands in the computer lab and tell me that they’ve won a million dollars with such excitement that it kind of breaks my heart. One of my favorite sites to take students to in order to help battle the sorting of reality and not-so-reality on the Internet is http://city-mankato.us/. It is a little dated, but still relevant when it comes to teaching students to sort the truth from the lies online.
My husband originally told me about this site when we team taught. Together we included it in our lesson plans for teaching research and information fluency. We allowed students time to explore the site and learn about Mankato. We then gave them ‘share time’ and they shared all of the wonderful things that they discovered; many of them were so impressed that they wanted to visit Mankato. We then explained that it is important to do fact checking on the Internet because you can not necessarily believe everything you read on the Internet (or elsewhere for that matter). One simple fact check for this site was with the National Weather Service. They were able to easily see that the temperatures did not match up. Additionally, they were able to read the Mankato Free Press article for further detail about the origins of the site.
There are several of these hoax type sites out there. If you are a parent or a teacher, it is well worth the time to allow your children and students to explore a few of these sites and learn just how believable (and unbelievable) the Internet can be.