How to Search, Understanding Copyright, Credibility & Bias

Time to teach: 2 Weeks
Tags: Web search      Evaluating credibility and bias      Online Collaboration      Web Tools      Multimedia      Copyright      Citing/Attribution     


Our broad goal is to encourage students to become critical consumers of information they find on the Internet. A "critical consumer"does not take for granted that the information he or she finds on the web is necessarily accurate or unbiased, and is willing to do the legwork necessary to uncover reliability and credibility. A critical consumer is also a conscious and conscientious consumer of information, paying attention to where information comes from, and making sure to attribute ideas and materials when necessary. Finally, we use "consumer"here because students should be aware that they are using information from the Internet to inform not only their school projects, but their personal decisions as well. When on the web, students are not merely students; they must behave responsibly, self-consciously, and critically if they are to truly benefit from online resources.



We believe that students learn best in authentic situations.

Web-search lends itself to issues that are meaningful to the real lives of students, and we have tried to capture those issues whilst maintaining intellectual and academic rigor. Students should be encouraged, throughout this curriculum, to look at their personal search habits and strategies. It is our hope that the natural of both the subject material and the pedagogy of this curriculum will lead to a meaningful improvement in the real lives of students.


We believe that students want to learn.

We have intentionally kept graded evaluations and homework to a minimum in this curriculum, because we believe that students do not need extraneous pressure to make them learn. If subject material is sufficiently interesting and relevant, and pedagogy appropriately engaging, students will take their learning outside of class naturally. Forcing students to complete meaningless and unwanted tasks, on the other hand, is a sure way to destroy their interest in a subject. To that end, we encourage teachers to adjust this curriculum to fit the interests and needs of students.


We believe teachers know how evaluate their students.

We have not provided an explicit evaluation system for this unit. Teachers are free to develop their own evaluative measures; we rather have suggested formative "assessment questions" in each lesson without necessarily attaching grades, especially since much of what we feel it is most important to assess is also extremely difficult to grade. Rather than provide advice on this admittedly complex issue, we have left the matter of grading to teacher discretion.


We believe in teacher creativity.

Though we have provided a fairly rigorous structure, we understand that teachers know their classes better than we do. For that reason, we have left much of our curriculum open to interpretation and adaptation. Discussions can be made into activities, activities into discussions. Homework could be more frequent, evaluative assessment eliminated entirely. All of that is up to the implementing teacher, ultimately, and we believe that is how it should be. It is our hope, then, that the reader of this curriculum will understand and implement the gist - the Enduring Understanding and three primary goals - without necessarily following the letter of the curriculum as a whole.


We believe in student creativity.

Students are just as capable of adapting this curriculum as teachers are, and we would encourage implementing teachers to allow student choice during this unit. If students, for example, want to change the nature and composition of the groups in the anchor task, they should be allowed to do so (within reason). If they wish to present in an unorthodox way, that too should be encouraged. Thinking creatively and critically - thinking outside-the-box - should always be encouraged.


We believe that all students are capable of critical thinking.

It is our hope that this curriculum allows for all students to shine. We believe that teachers will find scaffolding in this curriculum sufficient to aid any students as they learn how to search the web and how to make critical decisions about the nature and quality of information they find.


We believe in metacognition.

Reflecting upon personal learning experiences not only reinforces learning, but helps students to better learn about their own learning. In addition to explicit metacognitive tasks in our curriculum, we encourage teachers to seize upon situations where metacognition can effectively encouraged.


We believe learning is fun.

While our anchor task is meant to be challenging, it is also meant to be fun. It is a simulation, but it is also a game. We hope that students to throw themselves into their roles.