Purpose: Students will develop their critical thinking skills by evaluating and rating the trustworthiness of an article and will practice presentation skills by sharing the information with the class. By evaluating articles from a variety of news outlets, a class can begin to build a library of trustworthy news sources.
Procedural overview: Each student group will read an article about measles from a different news outlet and evaluate the article to try to determine its trustworthiness. Then groups will rate the article on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being least trustworthy and 5 most trustworthy) and present the findings to the class. As an optional extension, students can compare their articles to the Science News article “Measles erases immune memory.” The comprehension section of this guide asks questions that offer clues for evaluating the trustworthiness of that article.
Note to teachers: You can apply this activity to any topic beyond measles.
Approximate class time: 1 class period.
News You Can Trust? student worksheet
Computers with internet access or printed articles from various news outlets*
*Teachers supplying printed articles should consider a range of news outlets while being careful not to encourage the spread of misinformation.
Poster board and markers or other supplies depending on the presentation type desired
Directions for teachers:
Divide your class into groups of three to four students and instruct each group to find and read a news article about measles (or another topic). You should encourage groups to find articles from various news outlets (or supply groups with printed articles from various news outlets). Tell students to use the following prompts to determine whether they think the article they have read is trustworthy or not. After evaluating the article, they will present their trustworthiness assessments to the class and answer additional questions. Question 16 asks students to compare their article to the Science News article “Measles erases immune memory,” which is highlighted in this guide’s comprehension questions.
Directions for students:
Find and read an online news article about measles (or read the printed article supplied by your teacher). Answer Questions 1 through 12 and then present your findings to the class using materials provided by your teacher. After all student presentations, answer Questions 13 through 15 (and 16 if your teacher assigns it).
1. What is the main point of the article?
2. What information is provided to support that main point? List at least three specific facts.
3. What can you find out about the author of the article?
4. What organization published the article? What can you find out about that organization?
5. What is the purpose of the article? Do you think the author or organization has an agenda? If yes, what makes you think so?
6. When was the article published? What does that reveal about the quality of the information?
7. Does the article appear to draw on primary sources? If so, how do they support the main point?
8. Does the article raise unanswered questions? If so, what?
9. Is there anything in the article that you’d like to verify elsewhere? If so, what?
10. Are there any red flags that make you skeptical of the article or its author? If so, what are they?
11. How does the information in the article compare and contrast with other information you know or have read?
12. On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being least trustworthy and 5 most trustworthy), how trustworthy do you think your article is? Why? Give at least two reasons for your rating.
13. How did the trustworthiness rating for the article you read compare with the ratings other groups assigned their articles?
14. What factors did the other groups weigh most heavily in determining trustworthiness? Were these factors similarly important to your group’s rating?
15. List the steps that you will take in the future when trying to determine whether an article is trustworthy. How will you change your approach to evaluating general news? What about science news?
16. Read the Science News article “Measles erases immune memory” and answer the comprehension questions provided (or review the answers if you’ve already done so). Based on those answers, how trustworthy do you think the Science News article is? How does the article compare with articles about measles from other news outlets that your class has read for this activity?