Introducing the #CheckPlease Tag

One of the things we have learned as we’ve run the student fact-checking project is the hardest thing is to get all the students unique stuff to check.

It’s not that there aren’t enough facts out there needing checking — we see them daily. But consider a teacher of history who wants to do a claim checking project in their class. Let’s say they have 60 students, working in pairs. How long does it take them to compile a list of cool claims for those students to check, complete with the use of those claims in context?

What we’ve found is it takes a lot of time. It’s one of those memory things — I’m sure you’ve heard two dozen songs with the number 19 in the lyrics, but can you list them? (Note, if you try this, you’ll start listing off songs with 19 in the title). We don’t have a box in our memory of “false history claims I’ve seen on Twitter” any more than we have a box labeled “Songs containing prime numbers”.

So I’d like to propose we use the power of annotation and tagging to solve this. When you see a claim that might make a good fact-checking mini-project for students, use your favorite annotation or tagging engine to capture it and throw it into a library that faculty can draw on for projects.

Make sure that you choose claims that are both true and false. The idea is not to use #CheckPlease to claim something is wrong, or evenly wrongly supported. It really just notes the claim is interesting, and might make a good subject for student research. Use it during your daily reads when you stumble on something that fits. For example, I like Jeet Heer, and I think I remember this claim being true — but wouldn’t it be a great subject for a student wiki article?


Jeet Heer makes the claim that trains in Mussolini’s Italy did — contrary to received wisdom — did *not* run on time.

Let’s capture this with the #CheckPlease tag. In this case I’ll do it with First I make sure that I am on this particular tweet (clicking the time at the bottom gets me there). Then I select the claim and hit the annotate button.

trains 2

I add the “CheckPlease” tag in (no hashtag needed here as Hypothesis uses a plain word format. For findability, I add a few more tags.


Now this shows up in a Hypothesis feed:


And students can click the link to see the claim in context and start their investigation. Additionally, they can use replies to indicate they are working on the claim or have published something on the claim:


And the students can work on that document in the format of their choice. In this case we show a link to Digipo, but it could just as well be a WordPress Blog:


Simple, right? You could also choose to collect this stuff in Diigo, or Delicious, or Pinboard, or any other platform that supports tagging URLs. Try it. Help us out! The wider variety of these things we collect, the more authentic projects we have for students and the better we can provision classes with meaningful tasks.


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