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This lesson plan brings together several of the skills covered in this guide. As such, students are expected to have read the guide before engaging in these activities. The learning outcomes for this lesson include the following:

  • Students will learn about themselves as researchers by reflecting on their online searching habits.

  • Students will be able to examine results from a Google search and speak to the different kinds of sources the search returns, including whether they are scholarly sources, wikis, personal websites, blogs, and so on.

  • Students will be able to analyze sources for their credibility by reading laterally.

  • Students will be able to track down any primary documents or sources relevant to the subject.

This lesson opens with an opportunity for students to write for five to ten minutes about how they search for information online. Students’ reflections might focus on information searches they have conducted for academic projects or for personal reasons. Students might also address the differences—if any—between their search practices when conducting research for school and for personal reasons. This activity will help students understand their own practices and reveal what they already know (and don’t know) about conducting online searches.

The instructor introduces a research topic or question (or decides on one with the class) that will serve as the example for the remainder of the lesson. Together, using Google (the most widely used search engine), the class conducts a search for that topic or question. The class then reviews each entry on the first three pages of results. Instructors may divide the class into three groups so that each group has one page. Alternatively, all students may work on the results from all three pages. Students may refer to figure 3.1 in chapter 3 as they engage in the activity.

Questions that should guide students’ analysis of the results:

  1. What kind of sources appear on the page (e.g., news sources, scholarly sources, wikis, blogs)?

  2. What are the vetting practices associated with each kind of source (that is, are the sources reviewed, and by whom)?

This activity concludes with the students sharing their answers to the questions above and the instructor filling in any gaps that emerge during the discussion with relevant information from the guide.

RELEVANT CHAPTER: 3

Working alone, in pairs, or in small groups, students read laterally about two to three of the sources that were returned in the search. It is fine if some students focus on the same sources since this offers opportunities for them to compare their processes of reading laterally. To take their bearings, before they begin students should develop a short written plan for reading laterally about the source, its place of publication, and its author. Students take notes on what they find as they go, making sure to move purposefully from one source to the next. Students then share their processes and findings with the class. The instructor reviews or refers to sections of the guide that are relevant as the discussion proceeds.

RELEVANT CHAPTER: 6

Students practice locating primary sources mentioned in the links that the Google search returned in activity 1.1. Depending on the subject or research question, there may be few or many sources that refer to original documents (such as a scientific study, speech, or video). Students must scour the sources to find places where a primary source is mentioned or linked to. Working alone, in pairs, in small groups, or as a whole class, students track down the primary source. This activity concludes with a full-class review of the difference between primary and secondary sources and the benefits of working from primary sources.

RELEVANT CHAPTER: 5

This lesson plan brings together several of the skills covered in this guide. As such, students are expected to have read the guide before engaging in these activities. The learning outcomes for this lesson include the following:

  • Students will learn about their reading practices by reflecting on their reading habits.

  • Students will be able to apply reading strategies to help them understand the content of their sources.

  • Students will be able to recognize bias in sources.

  • Students will be able to judge and describe the relevance of sources to a subject.

This lesson opens with an opportunity for students to write for five to ten minutes about how they read. Students’ reflections might focus on what they read, where they read, and whether they regularly annotate their reading or take notes in some other form as they read. Students might also address the differences, if any, between their reading practices when reading for school versus reading for pleasure. This activity will help students understand their own reading practices and reveal the strategies they may already have for making sense of what they read.

To complete this lesson, students must have at least one source to work with. This source might be one of those gathered in lesson plan 1, a source selected and distributed by the instructor, or one that students found and will be using for a research project. The instructor should choose one or two of the reading strategies from chapter 5 to focus on with students. Students should review the section “Strategies for Reading Texts” in chapter 5 about the reading strategy or strategies selected. Then, students read the source by applying the strategy or strategies. Depending on the strategy or strategies, students should be able to discuss what they found by reading in this way. For example, if students rhetorically read the source, they should be able to discuss its rhetorical elements and the rhetorical appeals it makes. If the students were asked to compose twenty-five-word summaries, they should share those. If the students were asked to develop a map representing the reading, they should share it. As students share their readings with the class, the instructor can expand the discussion by asking some of the following questions, which will help develop students’ metacognitive awareness of the usefulness of these strategies.

  1. Having applied [instructor names the strategy] to the source, do you think you understand what the source says? If so, what aspect of the strategy helped you achieve an understanding of the source? If not, why do you think the strategy failed?

  2. Are there other strategies we did not practice but that you read about in the guide that you think might help you understand the source?

  3. Are there texts outside this class that you think would be easier to read if you applied these strategies? Can you name specific texts or classes and why applying the strategies would be helpful?

RELEVANT CHAPTER: 5

As is the case with activity 2.1, students must have at least one source to work with to complete the activity. This activity works best, however, with two or more sources. With two to three sources on the same subject, students read the sources for bias. Using the discussion of bias in chapter 7 as a reference, students track the forms of bias (i.e., bias by omission, by selection of sources or experts, by emphasis) that they see in the sources as they compare their perspectives on the subject. As they do so, students also describe the features of the source that reveal this bias (i.e., overstatements and generalizations, loaded words, labeling). The class discusses its findings, and the instructor reviews any relevant sections from chapter 7 of the guide.

RELEVANT CHAPTER: 7

This activity asks students to read for relevance. With a hypothetical (or real) research question or topic in mind, ask students to return to the sources they just read for bias in activity 2.2. Now ask them to read for relevance. With their research question or topic in mind and using the list of the ways that a source may be relevant from chapter 4, students write a paragraph about how each source might be relevant to their research question or topic. Students share their findings with one another, and the instructor concludes the discussion by reviewing the concept of relevance with students.

RELEVANT CHAPTER: 4

This lesson plan brings together several of the skills covered in this guide. As such, students are expected to have read the guide before engaging in these activities. The learning outcomes for this lesson include the following:

  • Students will be able to articulate and reflect on what they already know about fake news.

  • Students will be able to describe the complexities that characterize the concept of fake news.

  • Students will be able to develop a working definition of fake news.

  • Students will be able to write a source-based essay on the subject of fake news.

Although this lesson culminates in a source-based essay and potentially a remix of that essay, activities 3.1 and 3.2 can be assigned as a sequence that does not lead to activity 3.3, the source-based essay. Alternatively, activities 3.1 and 3.2 can be used as stand-alone lessons.

This lesson opens with an opportunity for students to write for five to ten minutes about what they know about fake news. Students’ reflections might focus on where they have heard the term fake news, what they have heard about it, and what they think about it. They may also consider whether they think fake news matters and for whom.

Students reread “A Real History of Fake News” in chapter 7 and then read widely through sources on the World Wide Web about the concept of fake news. Students might also conduct a search for the term fake news in the library’s catalog and databases, although this search will likely be less successful even if it does produce some early uses of the term. Students synthesize these sources to represent the complexity of the concept of fake news. Questions that might guide their inquiry into fake news include the following:

  1. How does each source define fake news? Where do these definitions converge and diverge?

  2. What kinds of bias play into how the sources define fake news? Where can this bias be detected?

  3. Do the sources offer terms other than fake news to describe the same concept? If so, why? What are these terms?

Students can answer these questions alone, or the answers to these questions can become part of a more formal annotated bibliography or similar assignment. Students can compare their findings with classmates or continue this work outside class.

RELEVANT CHAPTERS: 4, 7

Using the sources they located in activity 3.1, students develop their own working definition of fake news. Students articulate to the class or in writing how they came to this definition, what they chose to include in the definition, and what they chose to leave out. Students also address how their definition compares with the definitions put forth by the published sources. If students move on to writing the formal essay (activity 3.3), this definition should be used there.

RELEVANT CHAPTERS: 48

Students compose a formal, source-based essay on the concept of fake news by developing a research question or line of inquiry within the broader subject of fake news. Students explore this specific question or line of inquiry through sources, using the skills for locating and evaluating sources covered in this guide. Some of the questions that might inform students’ writing include the following:

  1. What is the history of fake news? To what extent does this history matter?

  2. For whom and what is fake news a problem? What are its consequences?

  3. Does the term fake adequately represent the phenomenon? Are there other descriptors that are more relevant, accurate, or effective?

  4. Can you imagine solutions to the problem of fake news? What would these solutions look like, who is responsible for developing them, and why should they be developed?

As part of this activity, you can also ask students to remix or remediate their source-based essay into another mode for a specific audience. Depending on their audience, students might choose to compose collages or infographics that condense material, thereby allowing audiences to process it quickly. Alternatively, creating a podcast, which is in the aural mode, would give students the opportunity to experience how the linguistic mode (i.e., the script for the podcast) and the aural mode work together. No matter the mode students choose, they should reflect on the shift from the primarily linguistic mode of the source-based alphabetic essay to the new mode, including why they chose the mode they did as well as the affordances (benefits) and limitations of the new mode.

RELEVANT CHAPTERS: 48, 10

This lesson highlights the attention this guide has paid to the ethics of algorithms and allows students to explore firsthand how algorithmic personalization and bias work. The learning outcomes for this lesson include the following:

  • Students will be able to articulate and reflect on what they already know about algorithms.

  • Students will be able to describe what algorithms are, how they function, and the relationships between cultural and systemic biases and those that appear in algorithms.

  • Students will be able to demonstrate through their own online searches, and comparisons with their classmates’ searches, how algorithms work.

  • Students will be able to write a source-based essay or compose a project in the visual mode on the subject of algorithmic bias.

Although this lesson culminates in an essay or visual project, activities 4.1 and 4.2 can be assigned as a sequence that does not lead to activity 4.3, the project. Alternatively, activities 4.1 and 4.2 can be used as stand-alone lessons.

This lesson opens with an opportunity for students to write for five to ten minutes on what they already know about algorithms. This knowledge may come from the reading they have completed in this guide, from other texts, and from their experiences using search engines and visiting various websites. Students’ reflections might also focus on whether they think algorithmic personalization and bias are a problem and for whom.

Students conduct a series of Google searches using the same search terms. They might try searches for “best book,” “job openings,” and “news.” Students answer the following as they conduct the search:

  1. Did autofill offer suggestions when you began typing? If so, for what? To what extent do these suggestions reflect earlier searches you have conducted?

  2. What are the first five results for each search term? To what extent do these reflect earlier searches you have conducted?

Ask students to switch to the search engine DuckDuckGo, conduct the same searches, and answer the same questions. Once students have conducted the searches on both Google and DuckDuckGo and answered the questions above for each, put students in small groups and have them compare their results and answer the following questions:

  1. How do your results from the Google searches compare with one another?

  2. How do your results from the DuckDuckGo searches compare with one another?

  3. How can you make sense of the differences and similarities you notice?

RELEVANT CHAPTER: 2

To complement students’ experience with algorithms in activity 4.1, ask students to read and view some of the widely available sources on the World Wide Web (e.g., articles, TED talks) about algorithms and search engine bias. Ask students to write a short response about how their experiences converge and diverge with what experts have to say about algorithms. For example, in what ways do these experts’ theories capture students’ experiences and where do they fail to do so?

RELEVANT CHAPTERS: 28

Students compose a formal, source-based alphabetic essay or a project in a visual mode—such as an infographic, collage, or photo essay—on algorithmic bias by developing a specific line of inquiry within this broader subject. Students explore this specific question or line of inquiry using the material in this guide to support their composition, whether alphabetic or in one of the visual modes listed. Some of the questions that might inform students’ compositions include the following:

  1. Is algorithmic bias a problem? If so, for whom and why? What are its consequences? If it’s not a problem, why not?

  2. Where does algorithmic bias come from? What is its source?

  3. Can you imagine ways to address and potentially mitigate or totally erase algorithmic bias? What would these mitigation tactics look like, who is responsible for developing them, and are they worth developing?

RELEVANT CHAPTERS: 28, 10

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