This facts and assumptions activity will help students with the Check It Out skill: knowing the difference between facts and assumptions, and finding out what’s really true.

In the current climate of “fake news” and misinformation spread so easily online, this is a critical skill for any age. Making assumptions is a lot easier and faster than taking the time to gather facts, especially when people you trust on other topics are sharing their own opinions and assumptions as fact.

A few weeks ago, Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina. We didn’t see much damage here in Durham, but the southeastern coast was devastated. Before and after storms like this, a lot of information can be spread online.

For example, a few of my Facebook friends shared an image of a shark swimming on 1-40. It looked pretty real, but people are great at Photoshop these days.

Even wilder still is people spreading the rumor that Hurricane Florence was picking up sharks like in Sharknado! I hope most people knew that was satire, but I’m sure a small few were sharing it based on the assumption it was true.

There’s also the tip to store your important documents and other valuables in the dishwasher. It keeps the water in while you’re washing the dishes, so it will keep the water out if your house floods, right? People think they’re being helpful sharing tips like this, but it can cause more harm than good when they aren’t necessarily true.

It’s never too early to learn to differentiate fact from assumption.

Download the activity for your students here.