“Hack or be hacked! Program or be programmed. Programming is the Latin of our empire. It is the literacy that forms the basis of citizenship in the Internet era. They don’t need to become experts but they need to know the logic behind technology.”  –Jesse Hirst, CBC Technology Columnist

Hacker Badge

In this badge, you’ll explore recent events like the 2014 kidnapping of hundred of Nigerian girls by the terrorist group Boka Haram, learning how real people are harmed by the production and circulation of fake news. You’ll use your evaluative skills to identify fake news and common strategies that the producers of such clickbait employ. Finally, in the culminating project, you’ll use Mozilla X-ray Goggles to “hack” a fake news story, working to correct deceptive language, rewrite poorly written headlines, provide verifiable facts, and use trust-worthy evidence to counter spurious claims.

Note: This is a research-intensive badge.

Level I Activities

  • Choose two (2) of the videos to summarize. Write a 250 word summary for each video. Remember to use the author+rhetorically accurate verb+umbrella statement in your first sentence (see summary guidelines in Resources).
  • Write a 250-word response to the videos by addressing the following question: how do these videos expand, contradict, or support your current understanding of fake news?

Level II Activities 

Assembling a toolkit to spot fake news. The news literacy project has put together a set of questions to help consumers spot fake news. They are represented in this chart. Use them to decide which of the following are trustworthy, untrustworthy, and sensationalized sources.

Once you have accessed the chart in Google Docs, select “File” and “Make a Copy” to save the chart to your Google drive.

In Rhody Writes, read student hacker examples on pp. 99-101 and the original article that the student revised, “Maine: House Democrats Vote to Allow Female Genital Mutilation.”  Then watch the student’s screencast to learn more about his process. Write a 250 word analysis that compares and contrasts the original and the revised article. How did the student rewrite the article to provide a more balanced account of events? How does the student integrate sources to support the main points?

  • Read about and Activate Mozilla X-Ray Goggles.  Note: you must use Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome browsers with Goggles. Play around with the program, learning how it works. Notice how easy it is to copy code and produce a credible-looking website! NOTE: Go ahead and sign up for a Mozilla Webmaker account so that you can save your revised article in the program.
  • Choose a fake digital news story, one listed in Activity II or one that you find on your own, to “hack.” You will eventually rewrite the story to produce an evidence-based, accurate, fair, and credible article, targeted to the original audience of your news hack. Your fake news hack must:
    • be centered on the same topic as the fake news story
    • substantially rewrite the text to avoid bias
    • include 3–5 credible, verifiable sources to support your claims
    • include new images, links, or other material on the fake news website to help you achieve your purpose
  • Use the library to find 3-5 credible, reliable sources. Create an annotated bibliography. Each entry MUST BE IN MLA FORMAT and must include all of the following:
    • A one-sentence summary of the source (use summary guidelines in Resources)
    • An evaluation of the source (use the CRAAP test.  You must state why the source is credible, timely,  and accurate.
    • A statement of how this source will enrich your audience’s understanding of this subject.
  • Create a design plan for your website hack.

stop_sign       SHARE AND DISCUSS YOUR PLAN WITH YOUR INSTRUCTOR.            stop_sign

Level III

  • Using either the Mozilla Firefox web browser or the Goggle Chrome web browser, sign into your Mozilla Webmaker account and activate the X-Ray Goggles bookmark. Navigate to the article you will hack. Now compose a draft on the original website using X-Ray Goggles to change text, pictures, links, and video. Remember to use your sources to correct inaccuracies and to help you write a fair, accurate, and credible article. Use attributive tags and an MLA Works Cited list to credit your library research sources. Don’t forget to publish your draft!


  • Based on peer feedback, revise your news hack.
  • Write a three (3) minute script (see pp.194-195 in Writer/Designer) that explains your news hack. Make sure to cover the following:
    • Summarize the original article and your news hack
    • Describe your purpose, audience, and format
    • State some of the most important choices you made about production and revision
    • State how you used peer and instructor feedback to revise
    • State whether or not you think fake news presents a serious threat to democracy. Why or why not?
  • Use the script as a basis for creating a screen-cast exploring your website hack using Jing or Screencast-o-matic.

Required evidence for to submit in Google Folders for this pathway:

Level 1

  • Fake news response (GDoc)
  • Summary of video (GDoc)
  • Fake news reaction (GDoc)

Level 2

  • Completed Fake News Analysis Chart (GDoc)
  • Student example analysis (GDoc)
  • Annotated bibliography with 3-5 credible sources (GDoc)
  • Design plan for fake news hack article (GDoc)

Level 3

  • Revised fake news article hack (link)
  • Peer review recording (audio or video file)
  • Screen cast video (link)
  • Video transcript (GDoc)

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