By Bob Thomas, Education Technology Specialist at Michael Driscoll School, a K-8 school in Brookline, Massachusetts

Fake news has been a topic of great interest in the past few months. Recently, I took advantage of the phenomenon and the native cynicism of middle schoolers to teach web credibility skills. I presented a lesson to seventh graders embarking on a research project in their Language Arts class.  Attached here is the presentation with accompanying notes that I used to spark discussion.

Students were engaged and intrigued by examples of fake news and fabricated photos from Hurricane Sandy. They were quick to grasp the power of Google Ads and the lure of quick money earned with provocative links and stories. They provided many examples of “click bait” from their online experiences. Students seemed able to make the connection between the importance of seeking news from reliable news organizations with an editing staff, and the value of seeking information from a reliable research source.

Students were presented with a set of evaluation questions based on guidelines developed by EasyBib. The questions included:

  • Who’s the author?
  • Who’s the publisher?
  • Why was the site published?
  • How accurate is the information?
  • Is the work presented in a professional manner?

Students were shown a simple tool for citations and seemed to have a new appreciation of citations. (How will readers know that you know what you’re talking about?)  In a follow up quiz, students were able to distinguish between examples of reliable and questionable research sites.

Questions? Get in touch with Bob at
You can download Bob Thomas’s full Powerpoint for use in your own classroom here:


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