Credibility, Citation, and Curation: a 21st Century Take on Research Skills

A 2-week unit appropriate for the English Language Arts classroom, grades 7-10

Created by: Lauren Borrero

Winter 2018 - Seattle Pacific University - Digital Education Leadership MEd

Stage 1 - Identify Desired Results

Established Goals (with standards)

  • Students will effectively and ethically find and use online sources. Throughout this unit, students will: 1) use search terms effectively, 2) assess the credibility of each source, and 3) use online information while avoiding plagiarism and citing sources.
  • Unit addresses CCSS ELA Writing 8 (which covers researching, evaluating, citing, and synthesizing multiple sources) and ISTE Student Standard 2c (the respect of intellectual property online). The unit is appropriate for students grade 7-10.

What essential questions will be considered?

  • What tools can be used to find relevant sources online?
  • How can a reader determine if information online is trustworthy?
  • What makes one source more beneficial than another in terms of answering an essential question?
  • How can writers avoid plagiarism and properly credit their sources?
  • What does it look like when researchers actively read and interact with sources? Why is this important?
  • Why is it important to curate and publish information online?

What understandings are desired?

  • Students will understand how to refine their online searches for more precise results.
  • Students will understand what makes an online source credible and relevant to their research.
  • Students will understand how to use information from online sources in a legal and ethical way.
  • Students will understand how and why to actively read (using notations, underlining, and comments) online sources.
  • Students will understand how and why to curate information online.

What key knowledge and skills will students acquire as a result of this unit?

Students will know…

  • Advanced search operators
  • When and how to credit the author of an online source using MLA format
  • Criteria for determining a credible source (CRAAP)
  • Process of online note-taking and curation

Students will be able to…

  • Use search operators and key terms to narrow search results.
  • Evaluate online sources for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose (using the CRAAP test framework).
  • Use online tools to collect and annotate online sources.
  • Use online tools to publish a curated list of information based on research from multiple sources.
  • Properly cite online sources and avoid plagiarism.

Stage 2 - Determine Acceptable Evidence

What evidence will show that students understand?

Performance Tasks

  • Show You Know with a Curated List: Students will research, evaluate, and critically respond to a topic of their choosing. The research and evaluation process will look similar for all students, but the topic and curated list is unique to their interests. They can choose to explore a future career, a hobby, social or political concerns, etc. The end result will be a curated list published online via elink.io  A curated list is essentially a collection and synthesis of information on a single topic from a variety of sources. It requires the traditional research elements taught in the ELA classroom with the addition of analyzing and evaluating the quality of sources in order to meet a specific publishing goal. For example, “3 Must-Read Harry Potter Fanfictions” would involve the creator’s personal preference and also their ability to summarize the stories and persuade readers to read them. Instructional topics such as “So You Want to Play the Drums” require students to present their findings in a sequential way that is clear enough for a beginner to benefit from their curated list. In addition to the academic benefits, curated lists are an ideal classroom tool because they require higher-order thinking and they may be published to an authentic audience (at teacher/parent discretion). Student example on differing interpretations of free speech. On the elink.io platform, students customize each element of their list (title, photo, and commentary). Because of this, the possibilities really are endless.

What other evidence needs to be collected in light of Stage 1 Desired Results?

  • Topic proposal, along with keywords and Boolean search terms
  • Google Form for source evaluation (including bias and CRAAP test elements)
  • Bibliography
  • Annotated articles as evidence of research via Diigo
  • Notes with proper credit for quotes/summary/paraphrase

Student Self-Assessment and Reflection

  • Students will self-assess their curated list
  • Students will reflect on knowledge gained through the unit as well as consider future application of the skills

Stage 3 - Plan Learning Experiences

*Note on resources: All resources for this unit are included as hyperlinks. Links in blue are resources created by other authors. Credit for these sources may be found in the footnotes. Links in green are resources created by myself, Lauren Borrero, and may used by educators for non-commercial purposes.

**Note on class discussions: Each teacher has their own preferred method of facilitating discussions. My personal method is to first allow students to discuss the questions in either partners or small groups. Then I either call on volunteers or random call. I ask additional questions to encourage students to dig deeper when needed. Digital options for discussion also exist: Padlet, Lino, and Google Classroom discussions.

Introduction 30 mins

  1. Credibility quiz: students participate in Kahoot game[1] to test their skills in determining real/fake online news stories. H
  2. Small group discussion: Why is it important to share and use sources that are credible? What happens when unreliable sources are shared and used? W, H, T
  3. Teacher talk: set purpose for unit and sub skills by presenting the goals and essential questions presented in Phase 1.  Students will use this note sheet throughout the unit to collect evidence from class discussions and answer each essential question. Use the puzzle graphic to introduce the research ‘pieces’ that will be learned during the unit. W

Strategic Searching 1 day

  1. Class discussion (part 1): What advice would you give a younger student about using Google for research? W, H
  2. Watch a short guide to generating keywords[2] from essential questions on YouTube. E
  3. Watch the video introduction to Boolean Search Operators[3] on YouTube. E
  4. Using the Strategic Search reference guide[4] and the Google Advanced Search engine, students work in pairs to practice searching skills by completing the Search Smarter handout. E
  5. Class discussion (part 2): How would you amend your original advice on Google research? R

Credible, Quality Sources 4 days

  1. Class discussion: 1) What makes a source trustworthy? 2) What red flags alert you to the possibility of a source being biased or untrue? As students respond, record their ideas to a Coggle bubble map, which can be posted online for later review. W, H, T
  2. As a class, watch this video presentation on Bias and Credibility.[5] E
  3. Students will use a website evaluation form[6] using components of the CRAAP test to evaluate a website of the teacher’s choosing. E
  4. All students receive the guide, How to Detect Bias in News.[7] Read and discuss as a class. E
  5. Using AllSides.com, students will read news stories on the same topic from different political perspectives: left, center, and right. Students will then use the Bias Detection handout to gather evidence of bias in each of the three news stories as well as analyze the appropriateness of the various sources’ categorizations by AllSides. E
  6. Watch the following video on skimming online articles[8] for relevancy as a class. E
  7. Complete the guided practice on comparing the quality of reliable sources. For this practice, students develop their own research question and explore the search results that come from that question. E, T

Credit Given to Authors 2 days

  1. Class discussion (part 1): When you think of plagiarism, what comes to mind? W, H
  2. As a class, watch the short video presentation, How to Avoid Plagiarism.[9] E
  3. Class discussion (part 2): 1) Did your definition of plagiarism change after viewing the video? Why or why not? 2) What is one new thing you learned from the video? R
  4. Using a device, students read the OWL guide on note taking.[10] Students then complete a practice handout on the different note-taking methods with the included article excerpt. E
  5. Present students with options in creating bibliography page: use Purdue’s MLA guide to write citations independently or use the EasyBib citation generator. E
  6. Students review the Purdue Online Writing Lab guide to in-text citations.[11] E
  7. Students create a practice bibliography page using sources of their own selection. E

Meaningful Interaction with Sources 1 day

  1. Class discussion: 1) What is the difference between active and passive reading? 2) How can readers interact with a text to show understanding, connections, and questions? W, H
  2. Students will demonstrate active reading by making digital annotations on sources using Diigo (a free tool). Students will utilize the Diigo extension for Google Chrome to annotate and share their sources. As a class, watch this walk-through tutorial for annotating and sharing[12] articles via Diigo. Students should choose a news story that interests them from Student Daily News to complete the assignment. E, T

Performance Task 1 week

  1. Introduce the project by playing this YouTube video which showcases examples of curated lists and instructions on creating the project using elink.i.o W
  2. Review the project guideline with students. W
  3. Creating a project proposal: Students form an essential question on topic of choice. Question will guide their research and creation of their curated list. Students identify keywords and potential search terms. E, T
  4. Sharing essential questions via Padlet: Students will post their essential questions to a shared class Padlet and then provide feedback on peers’ questions. E, R, E2
  5. As students carry out independent research, the following evidence of learning will be collected:
  • Submit Google Form - Website Evaluation and Citation for each source.[13] E
  • Annotate each source using Diigo. Annotations shared with teacher via email. E
  • Notes completed using preferred format (digital or paper). E, T
  • Bibliography page with all sources cited E

6.  Using elink.io (free tool), students will create and publish a curated list that answers their essential

      question and shows findings from research.  E

7.   Students will submit links to their curated list via Google Form. The resulting spreadsheet should

      be shared with all students online so that peer feedback may be provided. This peer feedback can

      be extended to multiple class periods, or between multiple classes if more than one teacher is

      completing the project. Students can then make revisions as needed. R

       8.  Students complete self evaluation using the guided questions. E2

Additional credit for Performance Task project idea:

Gonzalez, J. (2017). To Boost Higher-Order Thinking, Try Curation. [online] Cult of Pedagogy. Available at: https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/curation/ [Accessed 2 Mar. 2018].


[1] Raquel2401. (2017). Fake News or Real News. [Java-based Game]. Kahoot. Retrieved from https://create.kahoot.it/details/fake-news-or-real-news/2b857ab0-d83f-4eea-9f91-d299b773599f 

[2] [PfauLibrary]. (2015, Aug 31). Choosing and Using Keywords [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/PCUjnPS2_1g 

[3] [PfauLibrary].(2015, Aug 31). Using Boolean Operators [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/Yw9Djl_0vK4 

[4] Digital Life 101. (2017). [ebook] Online: Common Sense Media. Available at: https://www.commonsense.org/education/lesson/digital-life-101-6-8 

[5] [utlibraries]. (2016, Aug. 30). Credibility & Bias - a video from UT Libraries [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/3NuBFgZW8tw 

[6] The CRAAP Test Worksheet. (n.d.). [PDF file] Online: Juniata College. Available at: http://services.juniata.edu/library/instruction/handouts/craap_worksheet.pdf 

[7] Johnson, M. (2016). Bias in News Sources. [PDF file] Online: Media Smarts, pp.4-5. Available at: http://mediasmarts.ca/sites/default/files/pdfs/lesson-plan/Lesson_Bias_News_Sources.pdf 

[8] [Slate]. (2016, Jun 30). How to Skim [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/Tf-6897v6gE 

[9] [Steelman Library]. (2017, Aug 17). How to Avoid Plagiarism: in 5 Easy Steps [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/UsFcU1PH_8E 

[10] Owl.english.purdue.edu. (n.d.). Purdue OWL: Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing. [online] Available at: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/563/01/ 

[11] Owl.english.purdue.edu. (n.d.). Purdue OWL: MLA: In-text Citations. [online] Available at: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/2/ 

[12] [Kelly Bettencourt]. (2015, Feb. 26). Using the Diigo Chrome Extension to Annotate & Share [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/kY1VxvTCfk4 

[13] Tucker, C. (2015). Creatively teach the common core literacy standards with technology. 1st ed. Thousand Oaks: Corwin.