Thursday, May 7, 2009

Zombies: A Teachable Moment

"Zombies Night of the Living Dead" from Wikimedia Commons


You just never know when opportunity will present itself!

A few Study Hall students were discussing an article they had seen online, purportedly from the BBC, which announced the appearance of a dangerous new Swine Flu variation:

There has been a small outbreak of “zombism” in London due to mutation of the H1N1 virus into new strain: H1Z1.

Similar to a scare originally found in Cambodia back in 2005 , victims of a new strain of the swine flu virus H1N1 have been reported in London.

After death, this virus is able to restart the heart of it’s victim for up to two hours after the initial demise of the person where the individual behaves in extremely violent ways from what is believe to be a combination of brain damage and a chemical released into blood during “resurrection.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the alert to phase six, its highest level, and advised governments to activate pandemic contingency plans...


I did a quick online search and shared my findings:

According to Snopes, versions of this hoax have been making the rounds since April 1, 2005, where the "Zombism" was allegedly caused by mosquito bites. Since an actual BBC article was cannibalized for the joke, the page appears authentic at first glance.

Entertainment Weekly pointed to the Zombie Swine Flu report while chastising Twitter users for spreading misinformation.

Internet searchers and surfers of all ages, child, teen, or adult, need to be aware that good digital citizenship requires users to check and verify sources they are sharing. In an educational setting, learning how to evaluate websites should be a prerequisite for research projects.

There are a number of resources available to teachers:

CyberSmart! Education Company addresses Evaluating Websites in its free K-12 curriculum.

Kathy Schrock focuses on grades 6-8 in her "Critical Evaluation of a Web Page" unit.

A collection of bogus websites, posted by the Australian Department of Education and Training, can be used to test your students' skill at detecting inaccurate sources - and provide material for some interesting class discussions!

Information literacy is a key concept in our connected world. Without guided practice, students will be unable to effectively function as critical information users, collaborators, and creators.



Full disclosure: I am a part-time employee of CyberSmart! Education Company as well as a full-time teacher librarian


2 comments:

paul c said...

'Information literacy is a key concept in our connected world. Without guided practice, students will be unable to effectively function as critical information users, collaborators, and creators.'

You're right; this humorous example provides an engaging teachable moment for students. Excellent post for educators with links.

diane said...

Thanks, Paul. I like "real life" lessons, since they make more sense to the students.