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:
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
I've actually found myself fooled by postings on the internet, as I discuss in this short screencast: Internet Site Evaluation.mp4
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.
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.
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.
Once students have completed the tutorial, ask students the following questions about each website: