Breaking the Chain

18th Century "Letter From Heaven"; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chain_Letter_from_Heaven.jpg

Seventh grade teacher Paul Monheimer and I put together a lesson on email chain letters on short notice yesterday. We tried out some new ideas for teaching kids to “break the chain.”

Nearly all email chain letters are false. Students reviewed a list of 30 well-known email chain letters and tried to identify the one that was actually true.

You are being scammed! Think twice before forwarding something that is designed to fool you. Most appeal to some aspect of human nature to encourage you to forward (you will earn bad luck, someone needs your help, you will gain lots of money or friends).

Chain letters have been around for a long time.

Pyramid schemes” are illegal. The Catlin Gabel acceptable use policy asks students to not forward chain letters.

We directed the students to Snopes.com and ChainLetters.net to determine the veracity of an email message.

I was surprised that the new Common Sense Media curriculum does not include a lesson on this topic. What other teaching strategies or lesson plans do you have for email chain letters?

One comment

  1. Miss Capri says:

    There’s also hoax-slayer.com truthorfiction.com and urbanlegends.about.com as well as breakthechain.org and another way to break chain letters and have fun at the same time is to tear them apart bit by bit and ridicule them, exposing why they are manipulative junk. cbcf.boardhost.com is a place for that. And breaking chains through creative writing, does something similar, but in more story type format. Bloody Mary and several other “forward or die” death chain letters get trounced at fictionlands.pbworks.com/hoaxton so by the time you’re done reading, the scare should be completely taken out of any chain letters for you.