Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Something's Rotten in the City of Verona

Information Literacy

William Thompson, Diana Gedye, Will Thompson, David Thomas | Published: September 24th, 2020 by K20 Center

Summary

In this lesson, students build key information literacy skills related to collecting, evaluating, and using information from different media types and formats to support a conclusion. Students start by playing through The Detective: Verona, a digital game-based learning (DGBL) module, to introduce the concepts. The DGBL module allows them to explore those concepts within an interactive world by solving a series of mysteries and enables them to use those skills in the real world by connecting information literacy to everyday topics and information.

Essential Question(s)

How do you know when something is true? How can you tell if a piece of evidence, or any piece of information, is reliable?

Snapshot

Engage

To see where students are at in their understanding, they write a two-minute paper and then discuss their understanding with the class.

Explore

Students play part of The Detective: Verona to learn about collecting and evaluating information for verifiability, objectivity, authority, timeliness, and detail.

Explain

Using the Justified True or False strategy, students will test their information literacy skills and explain how they used the evaluation methods they've learned to come to their conclusions. They will then play the final scenario of The Detective: Verona.

Extend

Students will look at the type of media they interact with on a daily basis, compare reliable and unreliable sources, and then identify both the differences and how they can evaluate the information from an unreliable source.

Evaluate

Students will show their understanding of the concepts by completing the I Used to Think . . . But Now I Know strategy and applying their ability to evaluate information to three articles.

Materials

  • Computers with Internet access or an iPad for each student

  • K20 Game Portal accounts or iPad apps of The Detective: Verona for each student

  • Whiteboard

  • Writing materials - pen, pencil, paper, etc.

Engage

Start by introducing the concept of information literacy to your students. Give students a definition and discuss the types of media they consume on a daily basis. Find out if they ever check to see if the information they are being presented is true and, if not, why.

Have students use the Two-Minute Paper strategy to write a short paper about evaluating the credibility of information and how they might go about doing so. Have them think about the criteria they would use to assess a piece of information, like a news article or a social media post.

Once your students have finished writing their papers, explain to them that good information literacy skills are needed to find and evaluate information for its accuracy, credibility, and usefulness in a variety of situations. From identifying fake news to identifying good sources for research papers. Have students discuss their Two-Minute Papers with the whole class, sharing the methods that they might use to identify the credibility of information. As students say their responses aloud, write each of their ideas on the board. Pick out examples from their ideas to introduce the criteria you will actually be using for evaluating information. For this lesson (and the DGBL module) our criteria are verifiability, objectivity, timeliness, detail, and authority.

  • Verifiability – Look for the original sources for any story or article and then investigate to ensure they also meet the criteria. You will often see articles cite things that aren't verifiable themselves.

  • Objectivity – Be aware of and look for biases. Also, make sure to evaluate the information to see, for example, if the article is meant to be reporting the news or if it's more of an editorial or commentary which express more opinions than facts.

  • Authority – Is the person presenting the information credible? Are they citing credible experts?

  • Timeliness – Check the dates on the story and on the sources. Is the information you are looking at current or is it outdated?

  • Detail – Is all the information presented clear and specific? Does it answer the questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how, or does it leave a lot up to interpretation?

Explore

Once you have introduced these topics and gotten students thinking about how they look at information, introduce them to the DGBL module The Detective: Verona. Click here to learn more about the game.

Set students up with their computers or tablets to play the game and have them play through the first two scenarios, which should take roughly 25-30 minutes. You do not need to give them further instructions here. The game will introduce them to its mechanics, concepts, and story. At this point, take time to walk around the room, helping students who are confused or stuck and observing their progress.

Explain

Now that your students have played some of the game and have some experience applying their information literacy skills, you can use the Justified True or False strategy to explore their understanding of the concepts a bit deeper and better explain the different criteria.

Write three to six statements on the board (including the name of the person or organization who said it) that meet, or fail to meet, the criteria of verifiability, objectivity, and/or authority. Then, have your students evaluate each statement. You can have them do this individually on sheets of paper or in small groups. Example statements and student handouts can be found under Attachments.

Once the students have completed the Justified True or False activity, discuss their answers as a class, focusing on the criteria they used to determine if a statement was true or false. At this point, you can spend some time discussing misconceptions about these criteria, especially detail and timeliness.

Then, have your students go back to The Detective: Verona DGBL module to play scenario three. This should take students roughly 25-30 minutes. This final scenario covers the final two criteria of detail and timeliness and reviews the previously introduced criteria. Once they have completed this scenario, students will have been introduced to and had practice using all five criteria.

Extend

Now that students have been introduced to all five criteria and have had a chance to apply them within the DGBL module, discuss more ways they can check for each criteria and remind students to look for all five criteria when evaluating information.

Discuss the different types of media students interact with on a daily basis. Have students write down some of the media they consume, and then discuss which ones can be considered reliable sources and why. Focus on digital sources—especially social media. Discuss the ways that people can check on the reliability of information presented to them by unreliable sources such as Facebook, Twitter, or blogs.

Discuss the concepts of fake news and joke articles with your students and the difference between deliberate misinformation and satire. Then, discuss methods of identifying fake news in their social media.

  • Watch for clickbait headlines—those that are in all caps, have lots of exclamation points, or make shocking or unbelievable claims.

  • Look closely at the URL. Is it from a site you don't recognize or one that is known for unreliable information?

  • Compare the article with other reports from verified sources.

  • Check the article's sources? Does it have any and are they reliable?

Present the students with several news articles, both from reliable and fake news sources, such as this one from the "Miami Herald," this one from the "New York Daily News," and then this one from the satire/fake news site "World News Daily Report." Handouts of these articles are also available under Attachments. Have students examine the articles, determine which are reliable and which are not, and write why they made those decisions. Have students form groups to discuss their conclusions. Then, have each group share their conclusions with the whole class.

Evaluate

To conclude the class, have your students participate in an I Used to Think . . . But Now I Know activity to evaluate understanding about information literacy, the evaluation criteria, and their importance.

Have students take out a blank sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle to separate it into two columns. At the top of one column, have students write "I used to think," and at the top of the second column, have students write "But now I know." Under the first column, they should refer back to their Two-Minute Paper to write down what they used to think about information literacy, and then under the second column they should write how their thinking has changed since the start of the lesson.

Resources