Each day, I begin my ELA class with Reading Time. This is a time for students to access a range of texts. I use this time to conference with students, collect data on class patterns and trends with independent reading and to provide individualized support.
Students needed more time from the previous lesson on determining credible sources to complete the work. They needed to analyze four different web sources and determine whether or not they would be credible. They did not complete the work so I extended the lesson into two classes.
I start the class by pulling up the Determing Credibility Part Two presentation on the Smartboard. (Here is the Determing Credibility Part Two PDF version if needed). This reviews what students will be doing today, which will be to continue filling out the Credibility Chart based on the either the Helpful Hints web-site or Credible v. Non-Credible Sources handout, depending on the class. The chart has students objectively input data on each web-site. This is a struggle for students. Their thinking can be very subjective. They will use a web-site for anything just because they like it or because it "looks" good or because it's the first site that shows up after a Google search. Students need to be mindful that those are not always the best sources to use. By spending so much time on determining credibility, students are really able to master those research skills. This can be a challenge so our students are part of the instant gratification generation but using a lesson like this that forces them to slow down will eventually, hopefully, allow them to master this skill. After doing this kind of work, they will eventually be able to find credible sources since they were forced to analyze many sources to find just one.
Through the lesson, I also include a mention of the site Readability Score. I model using different web-sites and show them how to determine the grade level by copying and pasting the text. This gives them an additional component to consider as they evaluate these web-sites. While I have no problem students using web-sites that above their reading level, or even slightly below, students greatly benefit from determining the readability of certain web-sites. This allows them to further analyze the web-site to see if it is on their level or not. Many of the web-sites they use are below their level and by having them see exactly why, they can begin to make informed decisions about which web-sites to use to benefit not just their research skills, but also their reading skills as well.
For the rest of class students are able to finish filling out the credibility chart mentioned in the previous section. This gives them time to work on analyzing the web-sites so they can objectively choose one as part of their research project. Students are always wired up so I try and work with that when possible so students can become more engaged in the lesson for the day. Finding the balance between using technology and not can be tough but little moments always help me out.
As students are working I circulate around the classroom to answer questions. Many times there are questions specific to certain web-sites so I make myself available to the students to help them with these questions. The questions usually involve repetitive information on their topic or lack of information to determine credibility. When needed, I highlight certain questions or observations to the class as a whole. These observations usually focus on the sources of information and whether or not we can trust them.
To analyze their data, I have students answer the following questions in one paragraph:
1. What conclusion about credibility of sources can you make based on your findings?
2. Which web-site would you consider the most credible and why? The least and why?
3. Which web-site, if any, will you use as part of your research paper and why?
This is mentioned towards the end of class and most students will need to complete this for homework. This will help them look at their credibility chart as a whole and make important decisions about which web-site will be credible enough to use for their research project.
Here are two videos of students discussing their charts and the process of using them: