Fake fact: Zoologists have found out the voles reincarnate either as mice, rats or gophers depending on their diet in the previous life. (image: CC0)


EDIT 15 Jan 2017: The following post is called ‘Fake facts’ and it describes a writing assignment that requires students to come up with fake “facts”. It was intended as a creative and quirky exercise. In light of current world affairs it might, however, sound quite irresponsible and ominous. I still think the exercise works but I next time I do it with my students I will spend some time talking about the concepts of fact and news and the ethical questions that need to be kept in mind.  —

This is a stroke of genius though  I say it myself. The thing with any kind of presentation or written assignment, if it’s not based on the student’s own life, is that there are always students who find it easier to go on Wikipedia or some other source, do a bit of copy-pasting and submit a work that is not their own and has required them no actual brainwork. Very frustrating. But what if the task didn’t ask for facts but non-facts? You wouldn’t find them on Google!

Inspired by 100 Facts about Pandas, I told my students to come up with fake facts about animals (We’ve just learned about animals is Australia and New Zealand along with words like ‘marsupial’, ‘protected’ and ‘flightless’). And off they went – creating info sheets with text that was completely their own! With one group we worked with iPads, the other with pen and paper. I reminded the students to include the ‘fake facts’ disclaimer on the info sheets in case we put them on display. I feel the students were also quite happy to do this assignment as they could use their imagination and make it fun.


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