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Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Resources to Help Students Recognize Logical Fallacies and Cognitive Biases

Every year as the new school year begins I'm asked for recommendations for helping students improve their ability to discern good information from bad when conducting online research. One of the first recommendations that I always make is help them understand logical fallacies. To that end, I frequently recommend Your Logical Fallacy Is. It is a website that provides short explanations and examples of twenty-four common logical fallacies. Visitors to the site can click through the gallery to read the examples. Your Logical Fallacy Is also provides free PDF poster files that you can download and print.

The same people that produced Your Logical Fallacy Is also hosts a website called Your Bias Is. Your Bias Is provides an interactive guide to understanding 24 cognitive biases and how those biases affect how we interpret information that we find. Your Bias Is also offers free PDF poster files that you can download and print.

The Guide to Common Fallacies is a series of videos produced by the PBS Ideas channel. Each video covers a different common fallacy. Included in the series are lessons about Strawman, Ad Hominem, Black and White, Authority fallacies.

Wireless Philosophy offers 35 videos that explain various logical fallacies and how they are employed by authors and public speakers.



Why People Fall for Misinformation is a good TED-Ed lesson about critical thinking. The video does a nice job of helping viewers understand the role of simplistic, narratives in spreading misinformation. The video also provides a good explanation of the differences between misinformation and disinformation.


An Interactive Map of Historical Sites in Every U.S. State

The Traveling Salesman Problem is a website developed by William Cook at the University of Waterloo. The site features interactive maps that chart the short distance between a series of places. One of those maps is of all of the places in the United States National Register of Historic Places, all 49,603 of them.You can view the whole country in one map or visit each state's individual map.

Naturally, I jumped to the map of Maine's historic places to see how many I was familiar with. One that's close to my home is this old cattle pound that I often stop at while riding my bike in the summer. I clicked on the image on the map and was able to click through to the asset detail provided by the National Parks service. The asset detail includes when the site was added to the national registry and why it is significant.

Applications for Education
These maps of the National Register of Historic Places could be useful assets for teachers developing lessons on state history. You might ask students to look at the images and try to determine the significance of the sites before looking at the site asset details.

Three Audio Slideshow Projects for Students to Try

Tools like Adobe SparkTypitoShadow Puppet Edu, and old-standby Animoto make it easy for students to quickly create videos. I often use these tools when introducing video production projects to teachers or students who have never attempted make videos in their classrooms. Here are three types of assignments that you can build around audio slideshow video tools.

Biographical/ Autobiographical Stories
Have students arrange a short audio slideshow about historical figures they're learning about in your classroom. Shadow Puppet Edu offers a built-in image search tool that makes it easy for students to find public domain pictures of historical figures.

Or have students tell short stories about themselves to introduce themselves to their classmates. Students can pull pictures from their personal cell phones or social media accounts to complete this project. (If social media is blocked in your school, ask students to download pictures at home and place them in a Google Drive or Dropbox folder to use in school).

Book Trailer Videos
In place of or in addition to a traditional book report have students create an audio slideshow video about books they've recently read. Students can use images they made or grab images from sites like Photos for Class to use in their videos. 

Video Timeline
Whether they're studying current events or historical events students can create video timelines by arranging images into a sequence that demonstrates the development of a significant event. Ask students to layer text onto their images to include dates and descriptions.

The knock against tools like Animoto has always been that they make it "too easy" for students to make a video and therefore students don't learn anything by making videos through these tools. As with most things in the world of educational technology it's not so much the complexity of the tool that matters, it's the assignment that you give to students that matters.