I’ve spent most of the month discussing website evaluation with 6th and 7th graders. It’s been the typical sage on the stage routine--me at the podium, showing the DHMO or Guinea Worm websites, reviewing the handout. I don’t have a lot of time with these students--maybe 20-25 minutes before they check out. But I made some small adjustments, and it seemed to stick with the kids, so I thought I’d share.
I still used the DHMO site with the 6th graders. I introduce the unit with a photo of a freeway in China, then ask students to share other forms of pollution. Once they name a bunch--air, water, noise, light--I show the environmental effects of DHMO from the website. When they agree it’s very bad stuff, one student will always be brave enough to ask, “What IS it?” We all agree that since we’re already online, we can Google it. AND, since we know nothing about DHMO, it’s OK to read the Wikipedia article to find some quick information. We quickly find out about the hoax, leading right into my handout for quick website evaluation.
I didn’t change much about discussing currency, relevance and accuracy. When talking about bias, I always referred to the Martin Luther King website hosted by the white supremacist group stormfront. (Yeah, I’m not capitalizing it. No apologies.) Since we have blocked it at school, and I wouldn’t show it anyway, it was a lot of me talking, and talking. And talking.
This time, we looked at the McDonalds website. I asked for one word descriptions of their food, and got words like "unhealthy." We then looked at the Happy Meal page. WOW! In each class, we had amazing insights from students about promotion and persuasion and bias. In the first class, someone mentioned that McNuggets were made of pink slime. Bonus! I was able to show them Snopes.com, and we learned that while many nuggets are pink slime, McDonalds stopped using it in 2003.
We spent a lot of time on bias, but judging by the way the conversation continued as they left the library, I think it stuck!
Finally, to end the day, we had time in the afternoon to watch Bat Kid and I got to talk about Google News, evaluating news sources, citing your sources and one crazy adorable kid! Just one of those days in the library. One of those “Yes, it’s all worth it” days.