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“Just the Facts, Ma’am”: Evaluating Sources

Main Core Tie

Secondary Library Media (6-12)
Strand 5: Standard 1

Additional Core Ties

English Language Arts Grade 9-10
Reading: Informational Text Standard 1

English Language Arts Grade 9-10
Writing Standard 7

English Language Arts Grade 9-10
Writing Standard 8

Time Frame

1 class periods of 90 minutes each

Group Size

Large Groups

Life Skills

  • Thinking & Reasoning
  • Communication


Brooke Ipson
Michelle Miles


In the Library Learning Center, students will learn searching strategies to find valid and relevant articles in EBSCO, Gale and Google Scholar.

  • Using the 5 Ws of website evaluation (Who, What, When, Where and Why), students will evaluate 7 websites and complete a Website Evaluation graphic organizer.
  • Students will be given 8 resources about a common current event topic (in our case, the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union), and are required to evaluate and rank the websites according to credibility and write a short defense of the ranking. (The sources used are from Wikipedia, EBSCO, Google Scholar, Gale, Newspapers, Blog Posts).

Note: This assignment is part of a weekly exercise done every Friday in an AP class.


  • Specific Websites to Evaluate (Brexit list is below).
  • Website Evaluation (website link below listed as the 5 W's of Website Credibility).

Background for Teachers

Familiarity with resources in Utah’s Online Library, Google Scholar and the Internet, advanced searching techniques, and website evaluation strategies.

Student Prior Knowledge

  • Computer Skills
  • Basic comprehension strategies for non-fiction text
  • Chosen Current Event topic

Intended Learning Outcomes

AP Students will be able to access and analyze informational text within various databases using Utah Online Library resources, Google Scholar and Internet websites.

AP Students will be able to evaluate the bias and credibility of a variety of on-line informational sources.

AP Students will successfully find, evaluate, cite, and defend the credibility of one printed article.

AP Students will leave with the first week’s assignment completed.

Instructional Procedures

Instructional Sequence:

  1. Students are shown resources for current events in Utah's Online Library (Gale, EBSCO),Google Scholar and the Internet.
  2. Instruction will be given in advance about Internet searching strategies. Website evaluation strategies using the 5 W’s will be discussed. Students will then evaluate 7 websites from list on Critical Evaluation ( using a graphic organizer.
  3. Students are given list of websites on a contemporary issue (e.g. Brexit) to evaluate in pairs and complete credibility ranking and defense graphic organizer.
  4. Students will research their selected topic and print a credible article.

Strategies for Diverse Learners

Number of websites to be assessed with the 5 Ws can be reduced.


Students can apply the 5 Ws criteria to additional websites of their choice during the class period once the assignment is done.

Assessment Plan

Students will be assessed for use of website evaluation language in their defense of website credibility using a rubric.

Exit tickets: Website Evaluation graphic organizer and printed article on individual research topic.


Reviewed by Michelle Miles


Created: 09/08/2016
Updated: 02/05/2018