Fake News in First-Year Writing

Paul T. Corrigan

These pages describe and present assignments for a first-year writing course I developed around the theme of “fake news.” The course proceeds through four sequential, scaffolded writing projects to help students develop an understanding and practice of “Empathetic Information Literacy”—a specific model I have developed for students to write a research paper that integrates feeling and factchecking. The first unit explores what truth is, why we should care, and how we might practically sort out the distortions we encounter. The second unit introduces the five moves of empathetic information literacy—pausing, asking, caring, checking, and acting—and gives students a chance to practice those moves together in a group research essay. The third unit gives students a chance to apply the moves again, this time on their own individual research essays. The final (and shortest) unit asks students to reflect on what they have learned and on how they may use it in the future.

Key Terms: Truth, Empathy, Information Literacy