Navigating the Fake News digital landscape

We have been talking about the new Colossal Squid exhibition soon to be opening at Te Papa. Take a look at the sensational photo captured in May

My story was verified with some links to Te Ara, Te Papa, some reference to recent events both locally and nationally, and a picture of a stamp due to be released. Here are some facts:

1. The photo was taken in 2012, not 2018

2. The photo is from White Rock in British Colombia, Canada

3. This was in fact a whale that beached, not a squid.

Here is the original:

Now see how the fake news creator has doctored the image to make it look very credibly like a Colossal Squid

This may have been recognised as fake news by news agencies in 2015 when this story first came out, but the photo and back up information given to students makes it very believable and highlights the problem we have of the sheer volume of information available to us and how to decipher fact from fiction.

Snopes is the website where I found these pictures and is an excellent place to verify international media claims. They try where possible to contact the main subject of claims to sort the fact from the fiction, and failing that use knowledgeable, qualified experts and organisations, plus authoritative journals. Nothing like this exists in New Zealand and it is up to us to decide how well we trust our media outlets to be providing good quality news.

This video highlights how mis-information circulates and becomes actual news very quickly:By sharing fake news, we become part of the circular news problem.

Fake news is used by football agents to create excitement and build value in their players. Look at these headlines about the possibility of Ronaldo returning to Manchester United during the transfer window this year. Ronaldo did not once sit down and have talks with United.

Ronaldo signed for Juventus for $174 million. His agent will have earned a good % of that figure.


All of these other 57 players were linked with United during this transfer period of one month. Only one of them actually signed for United, the others will have benefitted from the link and raised good prices for themselves and their agents.


Have a look at another example of fake news in action. Recently anti-1080 protestors used an image of a group of dead kiwis to show the effects of 1080 poison on native wildlife. It turns out that this photo was previously released by a conservation group who were highlighting the number of deaths of kiwi by dog attacks and cars. The Facebook post was quickly taken down, but not before it had been shared 1000 times.

Newshub article highlighting misuse of photograph.

Another side  to the story! Who do we trust?

Department of Conservation take on the dead kiwi story.

Breaking News!!!! Media bias can create news where there isn’t really any. This article talks through the damage that can be caused through breaking news not being entirely accurate.




 Wikipedia get some bad press when it comes to being a reliable source – but just look at the number of sources they cite for their entry on the Colossal Squid! Their strict Verifiability Policy gives them a strong basis for choosing whether to allow posts to be published.


Basic things to consider before you reach for that share button:

1. Avoid following events in real time – give the news outlets chance to verify their breaking news and check in every hour or so

2. Follow actual news reporters – they are on location and often post actual photos on instagram of events as they happen

3. Media bias – find several news sources to help seperate fact from opinion. Find one you trust.

4. Verify before spreading – don’t become the source of fake news! Look at the sources your news has quoted – how expert are they? Can they possibly be verified?

This poster from the National Literacy Trust in the UK gives good advice about how to spot fake news and choose whether to share.



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Year 3/4 Stone Art in the library

Inspired by a beautiful picture book, this term in their Monday afternoon enrichment sessions the year 3/4 students from rooms 10, 11, 12 and 15 have been looking at the artwork of Nizar Ali Badr, a Syrian artist who creates incredibly moving images using nothing but stones. Author Magriet Ruurs heard about his work and found him through Facebook and a determined search through Syria and convinced him to reproduce some of his images for her book Stepping Stones: A refugee family’s journey.

During the session we watch a couple of videos about the making of the book and see the artist himself in action. By clicking on an image you can watch the video on YouTube.

Finally this video shows a group of children’s entertainers who have travelled to refugee camps to bring some joy and laughter to the children there. This has been a good way to help us imagine what it must be like by seeing the faces of actual children just like us who are living in quite difficult conditions and who have been through desperate hardship leaving their homes and communities.

We used some stones collected from the the beach and topped up by the generous people at Ablaze Firewood. Students then created a brief Book Creator document to capture their art and describe the ideas behind them. Have a look at some of their creations inspired by what they had seen:



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The Story Cure – new book for our parent library

Here is another great book we have found for our FOSS Parent Library. The Story Cure by Ella Berthoud & Susan Elderkin was recommended by a fellow librarian. Here is what a Goodreads reader had to say about it:

“Presenting recommendations grouped alphabetically by theme, it makes it really easy for parents/teachers/librarians to find exactly the right book(s) to propose to their children/teens according to their interests/questions/challenges they are facing in that moment of their lives. Of course, it’s not an all-encompassing compendium – it’s good starting point, though.”

This sums it up for me – it is not all encompassing – there are a great many fabulous books not on this list that we can recommend from our library, and what is right for one child going through something is not necessarily going to be a quick fix “read this and then you’ll understand” for another. However, it is a gorgeous book full of ideas of beautiful, funny and appropriate books for children and is wonderful to browse through. If we don’t have a title you like the look of from this book it can probably be found at the Wellington library or The Children’s Bookshop, and if you recommend it we can put it on our wish list too.

This book can be borrowed by coming to the library and registering as a parent borrower – a process which takes about 30 seconds.

To see all of the books in our parent library, go to the library catalogue at this link!dashboard

Once here, click on Quicklists and then select FOSS Parent Resources.

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New Zealand Children’s Book Awards Winners announced

At a fancy ceremony at Te Papa last night the winners of the 2018 New Zealand Children’s Book Awards were announced, and I am very happy with the results!

The Margaret Mahy Book of the Year

This is an absolutely stunning visual history of New Zealand, full of information and beautiful illustrations. We have several copies of this book and will be enjoyed by students for reading for pleasure, by teachers for use in the classroom, and as a wonderful book to own and dip into whenever you feel like it. A worthy addition to every home I believe, excellent present for anybody. Can I say any more?



Best Picture Book

 A firm favourite with our youngest junior classes, I am Jellyfish tells the tale of this unassuming creature who simply lives in the ocean and keeps herself to herself, until a hungry swordfish forces her into the depths. Our children recognised the lovely flowing words that fit beautifully with the bright and engaging illustrations, with most scoring it 5/5, 10/5 and even 1,000,000/5. Granny McFlitter and her penguin pyjamas must have been a close second,  but I’m glad our junior favourite won the prize. Here’s our bar chart of results from their vote:

Best Junior Fiction

A plucky lead female character leads us through a tricky time in her life when she is desperate to become a Bee on her farm, a prestigious position where fruit trees are physically pollinated by children in lieu of the bees which have declined in numbers. A change in circumstance sees her working alongside her mother in the dreary and divided city, where an unlikely friendship keeps her on track. A look into the future of New Zealand without bees, this book has an ecological message but is actually mostly about grit and loyalty. A fantastic book for year 5-8.


Other award winners:

It has been a lot of fun reading the picture books with all of our junior classes and having interesting discussions about what makes one picture book better than another. I have handed some of the other finalists in the junior fiction category to year 5 and 6 students to read and shared the YA finalists around a great group of year 8 students who were willing to give them a go. All of the finalists and winners will be enjoyed in our library, in the classrooms and at home.


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Further parent resources in school library

With FOSS support we are continuing to add resources to our school library for parents to borrow. You may recognise these titles above from FOSS parenting presentations, the latest of which supports Term 3’s presentation on raising empathetic children. All of these titles can be borrowed for up to a month, or reserved by emailing

A previous post here details the first group of our collection. Here are some more:

Steve Biddulph shows parents how to provide the firm, loving guidance that boys need. Updates include information on mitigating the dangerous effects of online pornography, male specific hearing problems, and teen driving on boys. Biddulph also discusses:
• The three stages of boyhood, and how to help them go smoothly.
• Testosterone! How it changes behaviour.
• The impact of competitive sports on boys, and how to ensure it stays positive.
• Questions to assist in finding boy-friendly schools

These are great resources for parents to read with their intermediate age children, particularly just before they leave to go to high school where pressure to make decisions both on an academic and social level can become quite overwhelming. Having the grit to go for it and take risks is something we all hope to achieve, however recognising that we show more grit in some situations than others is a great first step to improving this quality. These books offer simple exercises which you can pick and choose from.

In Glow Kids, Dr. Nicholas Kardaras examines how technology―more specifically, age-inappropriate screen tech, with all of its glowing ubiquity―has profoundly affected the brains of an entire generation. Kardaras will dive into the sociological, psychological, cultural, and economic factors involved in the global tech epidemic with one major goal: to explore the effect all of our wonderful shiny new technology is having on kids.

Rated 4/5 on,  The Out-of-Sync Child broke new ground by identifying Sensory Processing Disorder, a common but frequently misdiagnosed problem in which the central nervous system misinterprets messages from the senses. This newly revised edition features additional information from recent research on vision and hearing deficits, motor skill problems, nutrition and picky eaters, ADHA, autism, and other related disorders.

For harassed parents struggling to understand why they end up screaming at their kids and tearing their hair out trying to make them understand that bad behaviour has inevitable consequences, this popular book might help your family make it through the crucial first decade or so and still enjoy each other’s company. Practical commonsense answers and real life examples, logical and realistic strategies, and innovative behaviour modification tools that work in the real world – all from a parent and family therapist who’s seen almost everything there is to see and offers some hard-won battlefield wisdom. A donation to the school library that is well worth a browse.


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Anne Frank exhibition in Wellington and other WW2 reads

Many of our year 4-8s enjoy stories of hope and courage in the large selection of wartime historical fiction we have in our library and so the travelling exhibition from the Anne Frank house that will be in Wellington until the end of the holidays might be of interest. It is at the Dominion War Museum from 9-6 and that exhibition is free of charge. You can also get a virtual tour of the Anne Frank house here at the Anne Frank website, plus watch interviews with survivors from her diary. (Videos may need FlashPlayer to work).

Alan Gratz writes gripping, fast-paced novels for older readers, none more so than Prisoner B-3087 which tells the nightmare true journey of Yanek Gruener, a Jewish boy caught up in the unimaginable horrors of the Nazi invasion of Poland. A book trailer for this book is here. The raw nature of this account makes this suitable for students in Year 6 and above.

This is just a small selection of our wartime historical fiction – searching our library catalogue under “world war” reveals more, have a look here.


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From Russia with Love…. for Football and Exciting Stories


Tom Palmer is a writer who loves to combine his love of football with thrilling reads about all kinds of things – spies, secret agents, ghosts, combat, fighter planes, kidnapping, to name just a few. He has written many great series for readers of all ages and we now have the first book in each of these series in the library, with more to follow. See below

Especially for the start of the FIFA World Cup this week he is writing a new Defenders story set in Russia during the tournament. Seth and Nadiya are The Defenders. They solve problems. Ghostly problems. With Seth’s ability to see people from the past and Nadiya’s passion for history, they are the perfect team to take on anything. And that anything is about to kick off in Russia at the World Cup finals.

Tom will write a chapter every weekday night and use the events around the live matches to inspire what happens in the story. We have been having a taster of this in the library this week – if you have missed out you can come and see Mrs Bamber and read it so that you are ready to join in. I will be reading each new chapter at 8.30 each weekday morning in the library starting Monday 18th June.

 Jake loves his football and has a shot at joining one of the world’s biggest clubs when he has a trial for their Under 12s training academy – even though he supports the other big club in the town. He worries his height might affect his chances, but it turns out there are other factors that he should be more worried about… This is excellent for Year 3/4 and older.




Danny Hart is an ace detective – at 14 he is too young to join the police so as the next best thing he follows crime reports in the newspapers and investigates them himself. When one of his favourite football players at his local club goes missing and a ransom is demanded, Danny is onto it – if he is missing, how come Danny saw him the night before at the club?

A great read for year 4/5 up




As a major football tournament is about to get under way, MI6 receive intelligence that a terror group plans to assassinate the England Football team. Time to send in The Squad – your best team of 13 year olds who have all the training they need – just not in football skills! The nearby Youth Tournament is the ideal way to be on the ground in the right place, but do they even stand a chance? Exciting and fast paced for year 5/6 and up.




Jatinder gets mad with himself because he keeps taking the safe option – until summer school that is. His life is in danger and suddenly that free kick he keeps mulling over is not such a big deal after all. How do you combine actual events of World War Two air combat and football – Tom Palmer knows how! This series is perfect for anyone looking for an adventure, and if you are interested in World War history, even better!



Tom Palmer is an inspiration – he didn’t read a whole book by himself until he was 17 and found the love of reading through a football magazine. He has since written these tremendous series to engage reluctant readers and works with The Literacy Trust in the UK, with The Premier League and libraries and schools everywhere to help everyone discover something great in a book. Find out more about him and his books on his website here.

Look out in the library during the tournament for some World Cup related activities and a treasure hunt – there may even be prizes!

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