Evaluating Information: Lesson Plan
Information is available in many formats these days. For this reason, it is very important for students to know the proper ways of going about evaluating information and improving their media literacy.
Lesson plans geared toward instructing students on understanding where their information is coming from are vital. No longer does a student go to the library catalog and sift through the cards to find an appropriate book or other resource. Today the first choice for research is usually the Internet. The lines between blogs, newspapers, books and essays can become blurred, and it is important to find the distinctions. The following evaluating information lesson will help your students learn how to do just that.
Lesson Focus: Evaluating Information
Grade Level: 6-8
1. Review the copyright page of a book.
- The date of most recent publication will tell the students how timely the information is. Depending on the topic, timeliness can be the most important factor to consider.
- Note the publisher. A self-published book does not have the same prestige as one that was chosen, edited, and printed by an established publishing house.
2. Get to know a website.
- What does the extension mean?
The extension ".org" implies an organization or group that is not a commercial enterprise. They are often non-profits or associations. The information is generally reliable because they are maintained by groups with a sincere interest in the topic dealt with n the site. However, they may have a political, social, economic or some agenda the user should be aware of when evaluating information. Impress on students that is is always important to know who is behind your information.
The extension ".com" is commercial.
An ".edu" extension is used by colleges and universities. Data and information is almost always reliable.
A ".biz" is a business.
The extension ".mil" is used by the military
A ".net" is a network such as an internet provider.
- When the site was last updated?
This date can be found at the bottom of each page and will demonstrate if the information is timely, and if the website is maintained regularly.
- Find out About Us.
This is important. Who produces the information and why can be found in the About Us section. Biases and agendas will usually become clearer when this section is read. These do not mean the information isn’t any good, just that it might be shown in a light favorable to the website developer’s point-of-view.
3. Is it an editorial or article?
Students need to know the difference. An editorial expresses an opinion about events or facts while an article give the “who, what, where and when”. Straightforward articles make great resources, and editorials can be used to support an argument.
Assignment: For homework, give your students a topic to research online which will serve as an evaluating information lesson. They can choose any source they prefer but must prove its information is dependable in a two or three page paragraph that includes the following:
- When was the information produced and does this affect its accuracy?
- Who created the source? This should include the publisher, author, and owner of the material (basically who holds the copyright).
- Does the "who" listed above suggest any biases or agendas?