Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Street Cred

Evaluating Sources

K20 Center, Gage Jeter, Josh Flores, Brian Sexton | Published: November 9th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th, 10th, 11th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course
  • Time Frame Time Frame 3-4 class period(s)
  • Duration More 150 minutes


There's more than enough information at our students' fingertips, but how do they determine if that information is credible? In order to determine the credibility of a source, students first examine the credibility of individuals and then investigate their own authority and expertise on a particular topic. Students read and analyze an article, arguing for or against its credibility while quoting and citing textual evidence to support their claims. Through research, students locate an informational text and determine if the writer/article is credible and why or why not. Applying their knowledge of credibility, students locate sources and use textual information to support their own ideas. While this lesson is currently aligned only to 10th grade standards, it would be appropriate to teach in grades 9 through 11, adjusting standards as needed.

Essential Question(s)

What is credibility? How do we, as writers, become experts of our craft by demonstrating credibility?



Students' prior knowledge concerning credibility is assessed. Furthermore, students identify and discuss qualities of credible individuals.


Students prepare brief talking points about their expertise. Much of their credibility will be based on hands-on experience. Students share their knowledge with other students and gain knowledge from their peers.


Students read a selection on credible sources and properly cite information from the article.


Students analyze an informational text for its textual evidence and use of citations, determining if and how a writer and source is credible.


Students research information and argue for the credibility of a source.


  • Writing materials: pens, pencils, paper, etc.

  • Index cards

  • Student devices with internet access

  • Copies of Appointment Clocks and "Choosing Credible Sources" article


To begin this lesson, students will engage in a Circle Maps activity. This will provide a variety of ways for students to create substantive conversation centering on credibility and develop their critical thinking skills. Here's how Circle Maps works in this lesson:

  1. Provide students with a Circle Map template electronically, via a teacher-provided template, or have the students draw it on their own.

  2. Prompt students with the key term for this lesson: credibility.

  3. In groups of three or individually, ask students to record as many descriptors (adjectives, nouns, or any words relative to the concept/main idea/key term) as possible in a teacher-allotted time span.

  4. Have a representative from each group (or ask individuals) to share out some of their descriptors to maintain substantive conversation. Provide positive feedback and make relative connections between the students' shared words and the concept being covered.

  5. During the sharing period, have the listening groups add ONE new word to their circle and literally circle it. This is to increase the students' depth of knowledge by making connections between their prior knowledge and new knowledge.

After students complete the Circle Maps activity, move into a Think-Pair-Share activity in which students develop a list of people they believe are credible. Here's how Think-Pair Share works in this lesson:

  1. Ask students to individually create lists of people they believe are credible. These could be family members, friends, historical figures, celebrities, etc. Students should write their generated list down.

  2. Each student should then pair with a partner and share responses. Each student should feel free to edit/revise their list during this time.

  3. Pairs can either choose the best response from their lists or create a shared response.

  4. Each pair should share out one or two people who they agree are credible with the class.

  5. The teacher should generate the whole-class list on the board.


Transitioning from the Think-Pair-Share activity, ask students to determine as a whole-class what makes the people listed credible. Pose the questions "What makes these people credible? What is their area of expertise?" Encourage students to discuss with their partners and then ask for volunteers to share out. During this activity, students should be offering reasons and support for why a person is credible.

Students come to class with certain expertise, whether it is on video games, sports, fashion, movie trivia, academics, or something else. Transferring the idea of expertise to students' lives, ask them, "What is your expertise?" Give students time (approximately five minutes) to write or list everything they know about a topic of their expertise.

Then, ask students to summarize their knowledge in a single sentence. Remind them to try and explain it “simply." You can incorporate the GIST method (20 words or less) if students require a little more structure.

For students to share their summary/GIST statement with several classmates, hand out the Appointment Clocks template (see Attachments). Students will then discuss their ideas with several classmates. Here's how Appointment Clocks works in this lesson:

  1. Pass out a clock appointment handout to each students. Students walk around room and create mutual appointment times on the clock—as many asfour are possible.

  2. Once students have created their appointments, ask them to return to their seats and revisit their summary/GIST statement.

  3. The teacher then directs the movement of the participants. When the teacher says,“Discuss your question with your 3 o’clock appointment," the participant willmove to the mutual partner and discuss their summary/GIST statement concerning their area of expertise.

  4. Once all participant appointments are completed, the teacher can have students return to their desks and draw a conclusion from the discussions orsummarize the discussions.


To complete the previous activity, ask students to report which clock appointment (classmate) they felt was the most credible and explain why. Students could take a few minutes to write down their response before sharing out with the class.

Distribute the attached Choosing Credible Sources handout to students. Ask students to read the article individually or in pairs.

Advise students to work with a partner to make an argument for or against the credibility of the author and article. Instruct students to quote and cite information from the article on index cards to support their arguments.

Students should consult the Purdue OWL website as they cite information from the article.


If technology is available, direct students to one of the informational texts below for students to analyze. Students can also locate an informational text on their own. If technology is not available, print out and make copies of articles for students to read and analyze.

Suggested articles for analysis:

Ask students to identify strong textual evidence that supports the writer as an "expert."

Encourage students to share their responses regarding the text (agree or disagree) and support their opinions with citations using the Commit & Toss instructional strategy.

Here's how Commit & Toss works in this lesson:

  • Ask each student to write down examples of strong textual evidence in the article that supports the writer as an "expert." Be sure students write why this evidence is strong and supportive of the writer's credibility.

  • Instruct students to crumple their paper up and gently toss it into a box or across the room.

  • Each students then collects a crumpled paper and reads it silently to him/herself. The student should comment upon the original statement and return to the owner.


Either assign research topics or allow students to choose a research topic of interest.

Using technology, ask students to locate three articles that can be deemed credible according to criteria discussed in class. These articles should be related to their research topic.

Students should then write paragraph over each article to support the credibility. Encourage students to consider if/how the writer is an "expert."

A further extension could involve students writing an essay using credible sources to support an argument they are making.

An example rubric that could be used to grade the research essay is located under Attachments.