Common Core Literacy Lesson Plans: Ready-to-Use Resources, 6-8 by Lauren Davis is an easy-to-use guide which contains 25 model lesson plans for middle school teachers. In addition to identifying the Common Core State Standards covered, each lesson includes differentiation ideas, rubrics, and scoring guides. This lesson is designed to meet Writing Standard 8 by having students gather relevant information and assess each source, and includes a three-part sample handout. (See the Infographic here.)
Common Core State Standards
6: Writing, Standard 8: Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility of each source.
7-8: Writing, Standard 8: Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source.
- Students will look at the URL of a site ( .com, .gov, .org, blogspot .com, en.wikipedia.org, etc.) and identify what kind of site it might be (official government site, a site to which anyone can contribute, etc.).
- Students will examine which kinds of sites would be the most useful for different purposes and information needs.
- Students will evaluate a source’s accuracy, currency, and reliability.
Background Knowledge Required
Students should be beginning an informational essay on a topic that you assign or that students select.
- Introduction: Ask students if they’ve ever looked up a health or nutrition topic online. Let’s say a student sprains an ankle playing soccer and wants to know how to treat it. How can the student know the info is reliable? Is info from a chat room the same as info from a doctor? How can a person tell? Is information from a company that’s selling ankle support guards as reliable as information from a health organization? Make a list of students’ responses on the board. From their responses (and your own additions), decide as a class on the criteria that should be used when evaluating a website. Criteria should include currency (When was the site last updated?), author/agency (Is there bias? Is someone trying to sell something?), and reliability (Is there a list of sources? Were experts consulted?). Point out to students that the ending of a URL can offer a clue about the website’s accuracy, which means searchers can narrow results before analyzing sites. For example, .gov means it’s a government website, and .org could mean that it’s a nonprofit organization.
- Activity: Do part 1 of the handout as a full class. Then have students do part 2 independently. Go over their answers as a class.
- Wrap-Up: Assign part 3 of the handout for homework.
Extend the Lesson
- Display sample websites on a whiteboard, and have students point out where the “last updated” and “about the author” info appears. Ask students where a researcher can find out if the author of the site is an expert or consulted expert sources. Ask students if there is evidence of bias.
- Look at the sites as a class. Have students analyze sites on all kinds of informational topics throughout the year; they need to develop this skill for high school and beyond.
For students who need extra support
- Provide more examples of each type of website ( .gov , .com, etc.). Give students a list of topics from which to choose for part 3 of the handout.
For advanced students
- Have students do Internet research on a more complex topic and evaluate each source.
- Evaluate the three parts of the handout to make sure that students understand how to sort through search results and evaluate a site.
- Require the use of accurate sources for writing and research projects throughout the year.
- This site offers questions to ask when evaluating a website.