After first distinguishing among the subtle differences of copyright, public domain, and fair use, we then move on to learning how to properly cite resources. Of course, after that, the students think it's necessarily time to start researching and note-taking, and in the past that would be the next logical step. I mention the past (well, my past) because, back in the day, the only thing we had were books. (Remember those?) Now, as you know, students immediately start Googling for information...and of course grabbing everything they find.
What I most remember from those long ago nights secluded in my college library, is sitting cross-legged on the floor of a dank and dusty aisle, surrounded by a tower of books, scanning indexes and tables of contents, evaluating whether or not each book in the pile would be useful for my research, discarding some and keeping others.
I repeat this scenario to my students when it comes time to teach them how to evaluate websites. In this respect, I point out to them, the printed word isn't that different when it comes to the Internet. It's all about taking a good look at the information presented and determining if it's useful, relevant, and truthful.
As I mentioned in a previous post, teaching kids how to research on the Internet is, in my opinion, one of the hardest things to do, precisely because of our students' belief that the Internet has everything they need (which it does), and that everything is truthful (which it isn't isn't).
Which is exactly why I feel the need to teach my students how to evaluate websites for their accuracy and relevancy.
Research Chunk #3
How to Evaluate Websites
- As a hook to the lesson, I love borrowing the introduction from the Identifying High-Quality Sites lesson plan by Common Sense Media.
- Depending on the age and maturity of your students, they can either guide themselves through this website evaluation lesson, recording their opinions and explanations in a Word document to submit, or you can guide them through it as a class. The interactive, from Kids Computer Lab, visually presents to students a clear idea of what to expect and how to go about meeting those expectations.
- Using sites you've pre-selected, or if your students seem to have grasped the concept of website evaluation, assess student understanding of this concept with one of the first two critical evaluation surveys located at Kathy Schrock's site.
- To finish up the lesson, I show them a slide of the above photo, wait a beat or two for it to sink in, and then finish up the lesson with a laugh.
Usually, that's enough for one day. It's a lot for the kids to process, recognizing that everything on the Internet isn't always what it seems. I always feel like Toto after I teach this lesson, pulling back the curtain to expose the great and powerful Oz as a hoax.
Image via Flickr