Computer Science
Material Type:
Middle School
  • Lesson Plan
  • License:
    Public Domain Dedication
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    Promoting Student Curiosity Online

    Promoting Student Curiosity Online


    In this lesson students will learn how to use the internet to spark their curiousity, as well as take a critical look at their information sources.


    Citizen 3b: Promote student behaviors that encourage curiosity as they examine online resources

    In this lesson, we will teach students how to use the internet as a tool for sparking their curiousity, as well as some ways that they can examine their sources with a critial eye. The internet is a wonderful place full of ways to learn more about the things that interest us, but as we all know, the internet is also a platform that anyone can push their own agendas on, and it's important that students learn how to make sure their sources are valid.

    -It should take rougly 40-60 minutes.

    -It should be targeted toward children grade 7-9


    Watch the following video with your students:

    Digital Literacy

    Then, discuss the following questions with your class:

    -What are some skills that our generation needs to have online that past generations may have not needed?

    -How can we use digital literacy to our advantage to help us with every day life?

    -What are some different ways that we can use the internet to learn?

    -Why do we need to be weary of the information we gather online?


    Take turns reading the following page from the ebook "Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers" (by Mike Caulfield)

    What people need most when confronted with a claim that may not be 100% true is things they can do to get closer to the truth. They need something I have decided to call “moves.”

    Moves accomplish intermediate goals in the fact-checking process.  They are associated with specific tactics. Here are the four moves this guide will hinge on:

    • Check for previous work: Look around to see if someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research.
    • Go upstream to the source: Go “upstream” to the source of the claim. Most web content is not original. Get to the original source to understand the trustworthiness of the information.
    • Read laterally: Read laterally.[1] Once you get to the source of a claim, read what other people say about the source (publication, author, etc.). The truth is in the network.
    • Circle back: If you get lost, hit dead ends, or find yourself going down an increasingly confusing rabbit hole, back up and start over knowing what you know now. You’re likely to take a more informed path with different search terms and better decisions.

    In general, you can try these moves in sequence. If you find success at any stage, your work might be done.

    When you encounter a claim you want to check, your first move might be to see if sites like Politifact, or Snopes, or even Wikipedia have researched the claim (Check for previous work).

    If you can’t find previous work on the claim, start by trying to trace the claim to the source. If the claim is about research, try to find the journal it appeared in. If the claim is about an event, try to find the news publication in which it was originally reported (Go upstream).

    Maybe you get lucky and the source is something known to be reputable, such as the journal Science or the newspaper the New York Times. Again, if so, you can stop there. If not, you’re going to need to read laterally, finding out more about this source you’ve ended up at and asking whether it is trustworthy (Read laterally).

    And if at any point you fail–if the source you find is not trustworthy, complex questions emerge, or the claim turns out to have multiple sub-claims–then you circle back, and start a new process. Rewrite the claim. Try a new search of fact-checking sites, or find an alternate source (Circle back).


    Discuss the following questions:

    -Why is it important that we check our sources online?

    -What are some reasons that people would lie or "hide parts of the truth" online?

    -What are some reputable sites that you know you can trust?'


    After the discussion, explain the assignment


    This is a spin on "two truths and a lie" game. Have each student get online and create a document with two true fun facts about something that interests them and one lie. They are encouraged to back up all three of their "facts" with as many sources as they wish. Next, seperate them into groups of three. Taking turns sharing their three "facts" their job is to spend the next five minutes convincing their two group members that all three facts are real. It's up to the other two students to determine which of the three are fake. They are welcome to click on any of the sources the poster linked. The lie will have much less credible source compared to the two truths.



    Post Activity Discussion

    Reconvene after the activity and have the students discuss the following questions:

    -What are some true fun facts that we learned?

    -What were some giveaways that some of this information wasn't real?