Good educational fun
Posted by lpearle on 5 April 2008
This past week I taught two sections of our sixth grade about “bogus” websites. Some sites were real (like the one I blogged about earlier) and some were clearly fake.
The first class met on April 2, so I started the lesson talking about pranks and hoaxes (like Google’s Wake-Up Kit) and moved on to why you need to check the authority and bias of a site. I talked about how some “bad” sites (like the MLK one) can actually be valuable for research purposes, particularly if you want to talk about disinformation and hate. The second class met on Friday, the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, so we started there and ended up with the really funny stuff.
Some of the sites we looked at made the students laugh (eg, the Tree Octopus site), others grossed them out (GenPets, anyone?). We looked at PETA’s response to the BonsaiKitten site, and talked about how people – intelligent adults, presumably – could just as easily get fooled by a website as a middle school student. Finally, I showed them Snopes and we played with a couple of urban myths.
There was a lot of chatter and I’m sure that some of the students will only remember the really gross or exceptionally silly, but I know that a few will remember the bigger lesson and start thinking more critically about their searches and what they find when the “just Google it”. Some librarians may set the bar higher and want all their captive darlings to get it and start using their new information (or skills), but I’m realistic. For middle school, a few is fine.