Due to the ubiquitous nature of the internet in our lives, students tend to believe that they already know how everything there is to know about performing searches online. However, when asked to perform a search of information on an unfamiliar topic, they tend to become overwhelmed by the vast amount of information available to them and have a difficult time distinguishing from reliable and unreliable sources.
Learning to search effectively and efficiently is a skill weaved throughout the ELA Common Core standards, and specifically addressed in the Anchor Standards for College and Career Readiness for Writing, including:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
I use the three lessons in this unit to teach the strategies explicitly, and the skills are evaluated every time my students use the internet for research.
To tie the lesson to the day before, I tell the students that I heard that you can power an iPod with an onion, and ask the students what key words would help me find that information. As they respond, I type the key words (iPod charge onion) into a Google search. This retrieves these search results:
I ask the students which link should I click on to find out more - This usually is the video, which we then watch. Regardless of their choice, I ask students to Think-Pair-Share, "How do you decide whether a resource you find on the internet is "good" to use in a project?". During the share out portion of the TPS, I chart their ideas: title, author, date of creation, date of update, source of the information, contact e-mail address, layout of page, ease of use, fast to load, etc.
I display the purpose of today's lesson:
"I can evaluate an internet site to determine if the information it presents is true and reliable."
I then tell the students that they will work in pairs (triads if a student is absent) with their 5 o'clock partner (Clock Buddies), and allow a minute for the students to get settled with their partners.
I hand out three copies of the evaluate website rubric to each group and allow them to work for the rest of the session.
The rubric is a modified version of the web page rubric developed by the Ron E. Lewis Library - based on the CRAAP Test created by Meriam Library at California State University-Chico. While the CITE IT acronym might be less memorable to the students than CRAAP, I believe it more appropriate for the middle school audience.
CITE IT ties directly into CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8: Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source.
If you do not have 1:1 classroom computing, you could print copies of the different web pages and have the students write journal entries instead of blogs.
As the students are working, I circulate the room asking for explanations to scaffold the blog post writing. I expect the students to finish the evaluation of the three sites before the end of the session and begin writing the blog post. However, I do not expect the blog post to be finished, and tell the students the due date for the blog post. I evaluate the blog post itself using a short critical thinking rubric.
This is what the student work looks like, with some ideas on what to do about it.
To bring the lesson to a close, I have the students reflect quietly on what they learned before a quick share out of how the CITE IT strategy helps them to not get their electronics taken away.
This is what they shared.