Critical thinking and the “filter bubble”

The recent U.S. elections in the United States have brought to light the need for all of us to be better critical thinkers and fact-check those Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WeChat posts that enter our feeds and fuel our anxieties.

Here are some steps to take when you read something shared by a friend but not supported with reliable evidence:

  • Google it. Or Bing it or Yahoo! it or Baidu it or Naver it or do whatever you do to look up information quickly;
  • Look to see if a reliable news source (a news site that pays its reporters to do real, investigative journalism) has reported on the event in question;
  • If you can verify that the information is true, share it;
  • If you realize that the information is not true or you can’t be sure it’s true, challenge it. Comment on it and send a message to your friend to let them know that they need to question their sources.

Here are two sites that make it their business to verify information that we find online: Attempts to give accurate information about rumors and urban legends on a variety of topics, including war, business, events, toxins, science, military, popular… Monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases.

In 2011, Eli Pariser gave a TED Talk on the topic of the “filter bubble” and the ways in which Google, Facebook and other sites tailor what we see depending on our past web-browsing behaviors.  Parents and (pre-)teens (preferably together) can watch his TED talk (see below) and discuss what this type of invisible editing does to our world-view. Pariser warns that we need to balance our “information diet” and not just feed on the “junk food” diet fed to us by those who have decided what’s most “relevant” to us–not necessarily what’s important.

Pariser went on to co-found the good-news sight, Upworthy, and to write the book titled, The Filter Bubble: What the internet is hiding from you.

Do you have a resource that you use (perhaps in your mother tongue) for fact-checking or promoting critical thinking? Please let our librarians know so we can share it with our community. Email us at or

Interview with Stephan Pastis, Panda Book Award Winner

4 - Timmy Failure - Top 8 August to November 2013

Stephan Pastis is the author of Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, the first book in the series about boy detective Timmy Failure. This book won the Panda Book Awards for Middle Readers this year. Our library book distributor, Follett, interviewed Mr. Pastis at his home and created a video from that interview.

Students in grades 3 to 5 will be watching the interview in their library sessions and will be invited to checkout other detective stories from the library collection.

If the video below doesn’t load, click here to go to a separate window.

Reading is Fun!

This is Jeremy Soulage, a French student in Gr. 9. Once finish reading the book La cité perdue de Z Jeremy would like to introduce it to more people as he really likes the story while it was not so easy for him to read though it is in French. This book is the French edition of The Lost City of Z: a Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon.It is a panda mature readers nominee and the library has English, French and Korean versions of the above title. Grade 9 students are lucky as they can enjoy books from both older readers and mature readers categories.


Jeremy has read another two panda books and he wants to share his reading experience with all IST readers. Thank you, Jeremy! While waiting for the Panda Awards announcement let us review the stories and hope the books that we like and voted for will be among the final winners!

Elementary Student Council Elections

The elections for officer positions in the Elementary Student Council were held on Friday. There were 20+ candidates running for President, Treasurer, Secretary and Communications Officer. Each candidate was required to present a 1-min speech explaining why they felt they were the best for the job.

I have been a teacher at IST for 10 years now, which means I have sat through at least 8 student council elections. Many years I have been bored senseless, disengaged from the process except for modeling good audience behavior. Many other years I have squirmed with irritation at uninspired, rushed, and poorly crafted speeches. One year, the teachers even had to call a do-over because the speeches were so poor. So it is with knowledge that I say to you that this year’s speeches have been the best ever. Every single candidate was prepared and articulate in showing the reasons why we should vote for them. They all pronounced their speeches  clearly and with conviction. They all deserved being voted into office. They are all winners in my eyes.

Below is a link to a short movie I made with clips from some speeches. Unfortunately, my camera was running out of power and I was unable to record everyone’s. I hope someone else did because those speeches deserve to be archived and used as models for next year’s candidates.

Student Council Elections 2010