This is the latest installment of a weekly feature on this blog — lessons from the nonprofit News Literacy Project, which aims to teach students how to distinguish between what is real and what is not in this age of digital communication.

The material comes from the project’s newsletter, the Sift, which takes the most recent viral rumors, conspiracy theories, hoaxes and journalistic ethics issues and turns them into timely lessons with discussion prompts and links. The Sift, which is published weekly during the school year, has more than 10,000 subscribers, most of them educators.

The News Literacy Project also offers a program called Checkology, a browser-based platform designed for students in grades six through 12 that helps prepare the next generation to easily identify misinformation. Checkology is available free to educators, students, school districts and parents. Since 2016, more than 29,000 educators and parents in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., have registered to use the platform. Since August, more than 1,000 educators and parents, and over 34,000 students, have actively used Checkology.

You can learn more about the News Literacy Project and all of the educational resources it provides in this piece, but here is a rundown:

Founded more than a decade ago by Alan Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter at the Los Angeles Times, the News Literacy Project is the leading provider of news literacy education.

It creates digital curriculums and other resources, and it works with educators and journalists to teach middle school and high school students how to recognize news and information to trust — and it provides them with the tools they need to be informed and engaged participants in a democracy. It uses the standards of high-quality journalism as an aspirational yardstick against which to measure all news and information. Just as important, it provides the next generation with an appreciation of the First Amendment and the role of a free press.

Here’s material from the Feb. 22 edition of the Sift:

Viral rumor rundowns

NO: Frozen wind turbines were not the primary cause of the recent power outages in Texas.

YES: Texas mostly relies on natural gas for power and heat.

YES: Wind energy makes up only 10 percent of the power in the state generated during the winter, according to energy experts.

YES: All sources of power in Texas — including natural gas, coal and nuclear energy, in addition to renewable sources like wind and solar — were affected by a record stretch of cold temperatures, with freezing components causing shutdowns in operations and supply chains.

NO: This video shared on Twitter is not a statement from Sen. Ted Cruz’s director of communications.

YES: It’s a satirical video posted by comedian Blaire Erskine about Cruz’s controversial trip to Cancún.

Tip: It only takes a moment to check the profile of unfamiliar accounts on social media — particularly on Twitter, which displays a snapshot of the profile when you hover over the username:

NO: Cruz (R-Tex.) did not tweet in 2016 that he’ll “believe in climate change when Texas freezes over.”

YES: That’s an image of a fake tweet.

Tip: Convincing images of fake tweets are extremely easy to create. Beware of old, “too perfect” tweets from public figures. They are often fakes.

NO: The second impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump did not cost $33 million.

YES: This is a baseless copy-and-paste — or “copypasta” — rumor that previously circulated on social media in 2020 after Trump’s first impeachment trial.

NO: That trial didn’t cost anywhere near $33 million, either.

Note: This is an example of a “sheer assertion” — a claim made without evidence. When these kinds of claims are copied and pasted by individual users on social media, it obscures their provenance — or origin — and can make them seem to others like authentic comments.

Sift Pick

“Who Deserves to Have Their Past Mistakes ‘Forgotten’?” (Rachael Allen, Slate). More newspapers are establishing policies to decide on requests from people asking for previous news coverage about them to be updated or removed. This Slate report offers a good overview of recent efforts and details actions taken by the Plain Dealer in Cleveland — which began its “Right to be Forgotten” policy a few years ago — and the Boston Globe.

The Globe’s initiative was announced in January, after the newsroom reflected on “its own practices and how they have affected communities of color.” Globe staff — in a sentiment also included in Slate’s piece — said on the appeal form: “We are not in the business of rewriting the past, but we don’t want to stand in the way of a regular person’s ability to craft their future.” Requests to newspapers sometimes come from people who want their names removed from older stories that still exist online about minor crimes or public mistakes. The Globe noted it will have a high standard for removal regarding serious crimes and stories about public figures.

Discuss: Do you agree with newspapers’ efforts to give people a “right to be forgotten”? Or should all coverage remain part of the public record? Why or why not? Do you think elected or public officials should have a “right to be forgotten”? Why or why not? If you were in charge of your local newspaper, what would your policy about this issue be?

Idea: Contact an editor or reporter at a local news outlet and ask if they would discuss this issue with your students on a videoconference.