Lesson Plan

Website Evaluation

Looking deeply at websites for evaluation
Miriam K.
Media specialist/librarian
Cornell Elementary School
Coraopolis, United States
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts

Students will be able to...

Evaluate websites for accuracy, bias, and relevancy

Discuss what website evaluation looks like

Complete a website evaluation using the Common Sense Media checklist

Create a Website Evaluation "Cheat Sheet" as a reference for when they are researching


English Language Arts
Grades 7 – 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Introduction

Free to Try, Paid

On the Flocabulary website there are a couple of different topics that they provide lessons and songs for.

Under the Language Arts tab there is a Research and Study Skills section. Under that section there is a video entitle "Source Evaluation"

This is a great introduction. It is silly and the kids love it but the song uses repetition to get the point across for different sites and  why accuracy is important. The songs is only about 3 minutes long and is a fun introduction to the topic.

To go along with this song the website provides a printable activity to reinforce the lesson. The students look at 3 different "websites" and evaluate them loosely with the topics that the song touched upon. The worksheet has the students provide evidence for why they believe the website to be credible or why they should not trust the site.

Student Instructions

After listening to the video work in pairs to complete the worksheet associated with the song. You must provide 3 different pieces of evidence for why you find the website to be credible or why you find the website to be untrustworthy

2 Examining Website Accuracy

Common Sense Media has a great lesson on Identifying high quality sites.  This is a resource that is available under their scope and sequence for digital citizenship. The lesson that I use is under the 6-8 grade level and is in the 3rd unit and entitled Identifying High Quality Sites.

For this lesson they have the students examine pictures from Hurricane Sandy and try to pick which ones they think are actually accurate. This lesson is designed to show the students that not everything that is posted online is reliable.

I do this as a class discussion. I have taken the images that the lesson references and made them into a PowerPoint presentation. We discuss weather they believe the tweets, images, articles to be true and what evidence supports their claim.

Next we go over the students answers and we talk about the reality of the pictures. We talk about why these sorts of "mistakes" or intentional untruths happen

Student Instructions

Looking at the PowerPoint answer the following question about each individual picture:

1. Is this accurate?

2. Provide at least 2 pieces of evidence to back up your claim.

After we have gone through the pictures as a class you will participate in a class discussion about the nature of the pictures and information on the internet as a whole.

3 Evaluation of Website Using checklist

The Common Sense Media lesson on Identify High Quality Sites has a checklist in the lesson that can be used to help students begin to think about the sites that they are using. This is a helpful checklist and while it is a good start it is not the only thing that students need to think about.

We go over the checklist as a whole and the students will then be directed to the site "Save the North American Tree Octopus". This website is really well put together for a fake site and almost always the checklist comes back with a semi good to good rating. This helps the class have discussion about thinking critically.

The students will use the checklist to evaluate the website on 30 different topics and then give their rating of reliability. The students will need access to a computer and the Internet for this part of the lesson. I have had the students do this as individuals and also in pairs depending on the ability of the students.

After working through the checklist we come back together as a class to discuss their findings and ask their findings. We talk about how a website can be evaluated well and still be false. This is a great time to talk about verification and the "Check 2 Rule". I have all the students verify their information on at least 2 other sites.

Student Instructions

Following the discussion about the website checklist go to the given website and evaluate the website based on the checklist topics.

Make sure to think about all of the questions associated with each of the topics.

When you have finished evaluating the website, add up your points and give the website a final rating.

When finished you will come together as a group to discuss your findings and thoughts on the process.

4 Wrap-Up

Activity: Creating

After completing all of the steps of this lesson I have the students create a "Cheat Sheet." The students create a small poster that they can display by the computers to remind them of some important things to keep in mind as they are completing research.

I have the students work in pairs for this part of the lesson that way the students can have a couple of ideas that they bounce off of the other student. I have the kids print out the little reminder and attach to the computer that they use to do most of their work and that way it serves as a reminder for them as well as other students.

I grade the students on the spelling, grammar, originality, and accuracy of the topics. I give the students a rubric with the directions and the point value for the poster.

Student Instructions

You will be creating a "Website Cheat Sheet", think about the lessons that we just worked through, what important ideas or questions should you keep in your mind as you are researching? What are some factors that might be useful to remember as you find a website that you think is accurate? What evidence should you look for as you look for information online?

You may work with 1 partner to create a small poster that will be posted next to the computer that you use in class.

You will be graded on the spelling, grammar, originality, and accuracy of your poster.