It's on the Internet; It Must be True: Analyzing and Evaluating Internet Sites Using the CRAAP Test

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SWBAT evaluate Internet sites using the Internet Site Evaluation Rubric and the CRAAP test

Big Idea

The Internet is full of crap, which is why we need the CRAAP assessment.

Teacher to Teacher: Lesson Context and Time Frame

This is lesson # 4 in the senior project research unit. I teach students the lesson on evaluating internet sites early in the unit for several reasons: 

  • I want students to be aware of the importance of being savvy consumers of internet information and not waste time with general internet site searches. 
  • I want to direct students to data base research by first getting them to see the pitfalls of just using Google. 
  • I want to give students a little fun in an often stressful unit. 

It's important that teachers help students see that research is nuanced and that they can be more efficient with their time by being aware of the abundance of unusable information on the internet. 

In this lesson, students 

  • View a mockumentary about penguins to set the tone for the lesson,
  • Learn about how to evaluate internet sites using a rubric,
  • Evaluate fake internet sites,
  • Learn about the CRAAP test for evaluating the currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose of information on the internet, 
  • Apply the CRAAP test to their research. 

I've actually found myself fooled by postings on the internet, as I discuss in this short screencast: Internet Site Evaluation.mp4


When Penguins Fly: A Mocumentary from the BBC

10 minutes

Getting students engaged in a discussion about the internet as a source of information for their research projects is easy when I use the mockumentary "Penguins--BBC." I simply show the video and the kids start talking.

I ask, "What do you think? Is this a good source of information on my research project about penguins?"

A student always asks, "Is that real?" 

Another says, "I didn't know penguins could fly." 

Invariably, students get ino a debate about whether or not penguins can fly until eventually they realize the video is a hoax. In fact, it's an elaborate April Fool's joke. Still, it's an excellent introduction into the lesson and my thesis that students need to be savvy consumers of internet information. 

Fake Websites are Never in Fashion: How to Evaluate Internet Sites

45 minutes

To proceed w/ the lesson, I ask students to use the Rubric for Evaluating Websites, Rubric for Evaluating Websites, which I first learned about from my district's tech department and a wonderful media specialist, Cheryl Spall. 

Next, I direct students to look at several websites and evaluate them based on the rubric. There are many on the internet, but these are some of my favorites:

Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus: This is an extensive site that requires time to navigate, so I encourage students to look at the information throughout the site. Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus Homepage

Pomegranate Phone: Students will headphones will enjoy the descriptions of the many uses of the phone. 

Dihydrogen Monoxide: Expect a savvy student to recognize the site as fake but others will assume it is real simply because of the terminology. 

Depending on lab availability, teachers can have students look at the websites individually or in class if laptops are available. Another option is to have a whole-class discussion as the teacher or a student volunteer navigates through each website. 

Additional fake websites are suggested here and here.

As students work, I circulate around the room and field questions. Typically, students ask about finding information on the site. When they can't find information, they often assume all is well w/ the site. Additionally, I help students navigate the Tree Octopus site because I want them to see the videos in the media tab.  

When students finish looking at the fake websites, I ask them to find a website they want to use for their research. I give them the CRAAP test handout and instruct them to use this form as well as the Internet Site Evaluation form to evaluate their topic site, as in Website Evaluation 1 page 1 and Website Evaluation 1 page 2.



A Real Discussion about Faking It on the Internet

15 minutes

Once students have completed the tutorial, ask students the following questions about each website:

  • Is it fake or real? 
  • Why do you think the site is fake? Why do you think the site is real? 
  • What makes the site most believable?
  • Did the rubric help you evaluate the site? In what ways?
  • What did you learn about using the internet for academic research?
  • How will you proceed with your research?

After discussing the websites, ask students to hand in their evaluations as an exit ticket. Website Evaluation 2 page 1 and Website Evaluation 2 page 2 provide an example