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By way of introduction

This lesson occurs between two other lessons teaching students how to critically evaluate
websites. The lesson before this one does not have to occur immediately prior to this lesson. The
lesson that follows does not have to occur immediately after either. The essential ingredient is
that the lessons come in order, following the gradual-release-of-responsibility model.

Prior Lessons

The initial lesson in the series focuses on teacher modeling (I do it) with student practice (we do
it). The objectives are for students to learn what are top-level domains or TDLs (.Whats) and
what do they tell the reader about the sites origins. Using the teacher-created chart available on
the website, the teacher reviews the .Whats and how looking at those is a critical first-step for a
student who is trying to decide whether a website is worthy of a second look.

This lesson is not complicated nor should it take a long time. Probably the most difficult part of
the lesson is directing students to where to find the .What part of the URL as it can become
hidden by all the letters, slashes, numbers, and symbols that frequently follow it.

The other difficult part of this lesson is that there are no black and white answers. There is such a
plethora of TDLs, especially .coms, teachers have to stress that this is only a starting point.
Once the teacher introduces the TDL chart, the teacher and students spend time researching
teacher-assigned topics in groups. The groups then report out what they found about the websites
and the domain and the connection to the topic, if any.

The second lesson introduces Kathy Schrocks 5 Ws for evaluating websites. This also begins
with teacher modeling and then transitions to teacher and students working together using the 5
Ws chart. The outcome should be a student-produced response to a given website. It is critical
that the teacher circulate while students work on this in partner groups (no larger). If there are
other lessons between this lesson and the Internet-based student-guided lesson, when websites
are being used in the classroom, the teacher should have available both the TDL and the 5 Ws
chart so students can determine whether the website is worthwhile and useful.

Critically Evaluating a Website Lesson

This lesson is designed to be a self-contained, Internet-based activity. It focuses on the last two
components of the gradual release of responsibilitypartner work (you do it together) and then
individual work (you do it alone).

The lesson begins with a formative assessment using a whole-group response system such as
Socrative Teacher or iResponse. The purpose is to review students understandings of TDLs and
the 5 Ws. If the formative assessment shows class-wide misunderstandings, this needs to be
cleared up before embarking onto the website. If only a few students are still unclear, these
students are better served in one-to-one conferences while students are working on the website.


Approximate completion time: 3 50-minute classes including the formative assessment
Resources: Student computers
Personal earbuds or school-supplied headphones
Screen-sharing equipment or screen-mirroring software

1. Students are directed to access the website and navigate around the site for 2 3 minutes.
Students are instructed not to start any videos or other directed work.
2. Students are given the opportunity to discuss what they uncovered as they looked around
the website.
3. Teacher directs all students to close their computers and direct their attention to the Home
page displayed using screen-sharing equipment.
4. Teacher reviews the Home page with the students, paying particular attention to the
objectives of the lesson.
5. Teacher demonstrates the purpose of the tabs, noting that the tabs are to be accessed from
left to right. Teacher also notes that 2 tabs, Evaluation Resources and Websites, have
drop-down menus. Students must read and respond to the opening page of both of those
tabs then respond to the drop-down menu pages.
6. Teacher points out that on the Websites tab the last activity is an Exit Ticket. On the
Whats Next? tab, there is a video to watch but no further action is required.
7. Teacher points out that the More tab is for other teachers who would like to use the
website in their classes and includes all the resources the teacher used.
8. Teacher responds to any questions.
9. As students work, the teacher circulates, visiting partner groups as well as individuals.
The teacher should direct attention first to any students who did not understand TDLs
and/or the 5 Ws when interacting with the formative assessment. Most support should be
provided when students are working in partner groups and again when they are working
for the first time independently.
10. Once students start completing the Google form under the Websites tab, the teacher
should check the responses to make certain students are completing them correctly.
Special Note: Because the 2 Google Forms are not linkable to other teachers, paper
versions of the forms should be made for distribution to the class or recreated using
teachers own Google Docs accounts.

The Whats Next

As this tab indicates, students are moving into a project-based end-of-unit lesson based on a
Grade 7 reading module topic. The critical-evaluation skills developed from this web-based
lesson are to be applied as the students search for appropriate websites and/or through databases
or printed text concerning their project topic. Before beginning the project, students should
review the outcomes of this lesson and investigate how critical evaluation of printed material or
information from school-sponsored databases is different from evaluation of websites.

Feel free to contact me using the contact icon in the top right-hand corner of every page. I would
also appreciate feedback on how to improve this site if you use it.

Created July 2014 by Annie Herbert