Hoax or No Hoax?

This lesson plan provides opportunities for students to evaluate websites for validity in research.  Without a rubric, students evaluate websites given by the lesson plan to determine how valid they are.  Students then discuss what makes a valid website and explore pairs of websites (one valid and one hoax) using a rubric.  Students create their own hoax websites in sketches, switch, and apply the rubric to why that site is not valid.This is fun way to introduce valid vs. invalid websites for research projects. This activity should be used in a larger research unit in order to extend the validity discussion to websites applicable to the class's research project at hand. 

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
GLE 0601.4.3
Make distinctions about the credibility, reliability, consistency, strengths, and limitations of resources, including information gathered from websites.
GLE 0701.4.3
Make distinctions about the credibility, reliability, consistency, strengths, and limitations of resources, including information gathered from websites.
GLE 0801.4.3
Make distinctions about the credibility, reliability, consistency, strengths, and limitations of resources, including information gathered from websites.
 
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
 
Learning objectives: 

Student Objectives:

Students will

  • Use research-based comprehension strategies to read and evaluate websites
  • Practice analysis by comparing hoax and real websites and identifying false or misleading information
  • Apply what they have learned about hoaxes by creating an outline of their own hoax website and evaluating the outlines of their peers

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Understanding
Extension suggestions: 

Extensions:

  • For more practice with identifying credible websites, have your students take the tutorial at Vaughan Memorial Library: Credible Sources Count!
  • Students can use the outlines from Session 4 to create mockups of their websites including pictures and text for articles.
  • Have students use their Compare & Contrast Maps to write essays that outline the components of a real versus a hoax site using the specific sites they explored as examples.
  • Have students write either hoax or exposé newspaper articles that they publish using the ReadWriteThink Printing Press.
  • Have students create their own hoax webpage or website that is based on a real website they use routinely.
  • Have students create video public service announcements about Internet hoaxes and online safety. Instructions for creating video public service announcements can be found in the lesson MyTube: Changing the World With Video Public Service Announcements.

Helpful Hints

Preparations:

  • Before teaching this lesson, your students should be familiar with satire and parody. You may teach some or all of the following lessons:
  • Exploring Satire with The Simpsons
  • Exploring Satire with Shrek
  • From Dr. Seuss to Jonathan Swift: Exploring the History behind the Satire
  • Additionally, if you feel your students need more practice with website literacy prior to completing this lesson, you may want to review some of the lessons in the Jo Cool or Jo Fool Teacher's Guide and see if they are appropriate.
  • This lesson focuses on helping students discern that a website is a hoax, with the goal of teaching them to evaluate information they find online. It uses four specific comprehension strategies intended for reading online that are outlined in the first article in the Theory to Practice section and can also be found in the Online Comprehension Strategies Diagram. These strategies will be repeated many times during a single website evaluation. You should familiarize yourself with them and should be prepared to share them with your students.
  • All four sessions of this lesson plan require a computer for every one or two students in your class; if necessary, reserve time in your school's computer lab. During Sessions 1 and 2, you will be modeling the comprehension strategies and will need one computer that is connected to a projector or has a large screen.
  • Familiarize yourself with the Media Awareness Network exercise titled Deconstructing Web Pages. Questions from this webpage are used in the Is This a Hoax? evaluation sheet.
  • Visit and familiarize yourself with Jo Cool or Joe Fool For Kids, the Compare & Contrast Map, and the following hoax websites:
  • Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus
  • Mike the Headless Chicken
  • Dog Island
  • For background information on hoax websites as well as links to some additional examples of hoax websites see Better Read That Again: Web Hoaxes and Misinformation and Teacher Tap: Evaluating Internet Resources. Note: Make sure that you check any hoax websites before allowing students to view them to make sure that the content falls within your school's Internet usage guidelines.
  • Bookmark all of the sites listed under Websites for Student Use in the Resources section on the computers you and your students will be using.
  • Make one copy of the Online Comprehension Strategies Diagram and three copies of the Is This a Hoax? evaluation sheet for each student in your class.

 

Materials and Technology:

  • Computers with Internet access
  • LCD projector (optional)

 

Printouts:

  • Is This a Hoax? evaluation sheet 
  • Online Comprehension Strategies Diagram 
  • What I Learned self-evaluation 
  • Teacher Evaluation Form for Online Comprehension

 

Websites:

  • Teacher Tap: Evaluating Internet Resources
  • Better Read That Again: Web Hoaxes and Misinformation
  • Jo Cool or Jo Fool Teacher's Guide
  • Jo Cool or Jo Fool For Kids
  • Deconstructing Web Pages
  • Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus
  • Mike the Headless Chicken
  • Dog Island: Free Forever
  • Ripley's Believe It or Not!
  • Nova: Dogs and More Dogs

 

References

Contributors: