Thanks to its partnership with publisher Eye on Education, EducationWorld is pleased to present this lesson from Common Core Literacy Lesson Plans: Ready-to-Use Resources, 6-8 by Lauren Davis. The book is an easy-to-use guide containing 25 Common Core-aligned model lesson plans for middle-school teachers. This lesson is designed to meet Writing Standard 8 by having students gather relevant information and assess each source.
Common Core State Standards
Background Knowledge Required
Students should be beginning an informational essay on a topic that you assign or that students select.
Copies of the handout: Analyzing a Web Site Activity Sheet
Ask students if they’ve ever looked up a health or nutrition topic online. Let’s say a student sprains an ankle playing soccer and wants to know how to treat it. How can the student know the information is reliable? Is content from a chat room the same as information from a doctor? How can a person tell? Is information from a company that’s selling ankle support guards as reliable as information from a health organization?
Make a list of students’ responses on the board. From their responses (and your own additions), decide as a class on the criteria that should be used when evaluating a Web site. Criteria should include currency (When was the site last updated?), author/agency (Is there bias? Is someone trying to sell something?), and reliability (Is there a list of sources? Were experts consulted?). This site offers questions to ask when evaluating a Web site.
Point out to students that the ending of a URL can offer a clue about the Web site’s accuracy, which means searchers can narrow results before analyzing sites. For example, .gov means it’s a government Web site, and .org could mean that it’s a nonprofit organization.
Do part 1 of the handout as a full class. Then have students do part 2 independently. Go over their answers as a class.
Assign part 3 of the handout for homework.
Extend the Lesson
Display sample Web sites on a whiteboard, and have students point out where the “last updated” and “about the author” information appears. Ask students where a researcher can find out if the author of the site is an expert or consulted expert sources. Ask students if there is evidence of bias.
Look at the sites as a class. Have students analyze sites on all kinds of informational topics throughout the year; they need to develop this skill for high school and beyond.
For students who need extra support, provide more examples of each type of Web site ( .gov , .com, etc.). Give students a list of topics from which to choose for part 3 of the handout.
Advanced students can do Internet research on a more complex topic and evaluate each source.
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