Today's students complete most of their homework on a computer and do the bulk of their research online. When tasked with learning something new, they often equate research with “Googling”; assume that the information they find online is true; and produce cut-and-paste work that reflects little original thinking or regard for accuracy. Because the Internet provides direct access to huge volumes of information, students must learn how to filter and analyze their search results to distinguish reliable content and credible sources from incorrect, incomplete or speculative information.
Lesson Description: For this lesson, students will go on a treasure hunt for information on a website dedicated to world explorers, only to discover that the facts provided on the site are wrong.
Begin with a group discussion about students' preconceptions of the Internet. Next, explain that they will be studying world explorers, and ask them to Google the phrase “all about explorers” to gather information on the topic. Have students browse the first website in the results list (allaboutexplorers.com), and then ask them to click on the “Treasure Hunts” tab near the top of the page.
Divide students into pairs to research one of the 12 explorers listed on the “Treasure Hunts” page. Each pair should research and answer three questions about their explorer using the resources provided. Pairs researching the same explorer should then discuss their findings and answer “The Big Question”: What were the similarities and differences in the information you found on the two sites?
Students typically are astounded to discover that there's erroneous information on the Internet – especially when it comes from the first source provided in Google's search results. Follow this revelation with further discussions about where to find trustworthy information and how and why to examine a website before trusting the information found there.
Subject Area: This activity focuses on digital literacy and social studies subject matter and can be adapted for all grades.
Curriculum Standards: This lesson addresses curriculum standards set forth by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the International Society for Technology in Education's National Educational Technology Standards for Students.
The standards challenge students to:
Grading Rubric: Students should be evaluated on their: