Using Lateral Reading Strategies to Fact Check News Sources with Adobe Acrobat

Students use lateral reading strategies to fact check news sources
2 teachers like this strategy

About This Strategy

This 60-minute strategy helps students answer the big question: who is behind  information?  Students practice lateral reading skills from the Stanford History Education Group’s Civic Online Reasoning website using Adobe Acrobat Pro. This strategy can stand on its own or be a part of a broader unit on research and determining the credibility of sources.

Because Adobe Acrobat Pro enables students to view, create, and manipulate PDF documents, this strategy empowers students to become critical consumers of the information they read online as they annotate and practice the skill of lateral reading in a deep and meaningful way.

Supporting Tools and Resources

  • Student sample
  • Adobe Acrobat

  • Editable Resource Bundle

  • PDF Resource Bundle

Outline for Teachers

60 minutes


Students explore resources from The Stanford History Education Group’s Civic Online Reasoning website  as an introduction to using lateral reading as a strategy for  sorting  fact from fiction online. [Presentation and mini-lesson notes for teacher] (25 minutes)


Students choose and annotate a current events news article as though they were professional fact checkers using Adobe Acrobat to practice lateral reading strategies.  If you would prefer to teach this with more controlled groups, here is an alternate reading assignment for this creation task. (30 minutes)


Students evaluate the reliability of sources and deepen their civic online reasoning skills by practicing lateral reading strategies using these steps to guide them. Students can examine an example here and use these steps to guide their use of Acrobat. (5 minutes)


Students share and publish their demonstrations of lateral reasoning as directed.

Steps for Students

This 60-minute strategy introduces you to lateral reading skills from The Stanford History Education Group’s Civic Online Reasoning website.  In this strategy, you will demonstrate your ability to sort fact from fiction in the news by applying lateral reading strategies in Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Adobe Acrobat Pro enables you to view, create, and manipulate PDF documents in order to critically evaluate information you are reading!


1. Watch a video on how to sort fact from fiction online using Lateral Reading. When you are done viewing the video clip, answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper and then share your answers with a partner. (5-7 minutes)

  • Summarize what you learned about lateral reading

  • What kinds of sources should we use when we read laterally? Why?

2. Explore a mini-lesson presentation about lateral reading from The Stanford History Education Group’s Civic Online Reasoning website. (25 minutes)

3. Act like a professional fact checker and annotate and highlight a current news article of your choice using Adobe Acrobat Pro to practice lateral reading in order to distinguish between real and fake news. (30 minutes)

As you read, annotate by following the steps below:

  • Highlight the  sponsoring organization and consider the author’s perspective, their expertise on the topic, and why they’re presenting the information.

  • Fact check your news source from at least two lateral sources such as:  Wikipedia, Politifact, Snopes, and/or FactCheck.

  • Based on claims from these fact checking organizations, how reliable is your source? Answer this question on your annotated document.

Check out this student sample here for inspiration.  If you would like a  quick tutorial on how to use Adobe Acrobat Pro, go here.

4. Share your work in Adobe Acrobat  as directed by your instructor.

Rubric for Successful Analysis

Consult the attached rubric in order to evaluate students' work.