Best Practice: How do I critically evaluate a website?

Each nine weeks I collaborate with our Computer Applications teacher on a website evaluation unit with our seventh graders. I have a PowerPoint that I made into a webpage. The students follow along on the laptops while we work on answering the essential question: How do I critically evaluate a website?

This week we tried something new and I am happy with the result. I had been using The Dog Island website as the model for working through the Five W’s of Website Evaluation. This is a great hoax site to show the value of critically evaluating a website and being a cautious consumer of information. However, I wanted to emphasize the questioning aspect of the lesson more so than is possible with Dog Island.

This time, we used the DHMO website. A colleague pointed me toward a DHMO video on TeacherTube that is a teen talking about the website and how upset she is with the state of contamination by this chemical, DHMO. The video is a great hook for the students as I explained that I wanted us to examine this website to see if we should join this girl in her crusade against DHMO contamination. After we worked through the Five W’s of the website ( Who, What, Where, When, Why) we determined that the chemical must be a hazard. I then had the students discover and realize what compound DHMO is by working through the chemical formula.

They were blown away by the result. I think the lesson shook them up a bit about Internet research. The point I made was that all the information on the website is accurate, but the premise behind the information is completely misleading. A great teachable moment for information literacy.

Do you have a best practice example to share? Leave a comment or contact me about a guest post on your best practice.

Kris Woods
M. A. Teasley Middle School
Canton, GA

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Posted on February 9, 2008, in Best practice, Information Literacy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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