One interesting feature of this inquiry was that, although we helped with the design and produced all the resources, the teachers were confident that they didn’t need our help with delivery so we hadn’t seen much of the results – we therefore jumped at this invitation to be involved. Because I designed the CRAAP Testing resources and because I had taught in the Science department in a previous role so knew the teacher concerned well, it was decided that I should deliver this intervention. With the inquiry essentially over and a very tired group of Year 9s to engage on the last Chemistry lesson of the term, I decided that a much more interactive approach to CRAAP testing was required.
The teacher told me she hadn’t yet shown them the sample Breitbart article for which we had produced a sample CRAAP test so I built a lesson around that. It’s a fabulous example – looks quite good on the surface, with a referenced ‘peer-reviewed’ study, but a quick skim around on the web quickly reveals that it is a highly misleading source (climatefeedback.org, snopes). I printed out A3 copies of the article for students to look at in pairs, and used a picture quiz as a starter where students needed to guess which objects were in highly zoomed in images. In my development of the CRAAP Testing resources, I was heavily influenced by a recent series of articles I had read by John Royce – Not Just CRAAP , which I would highly recommend. John points out that using traditional website evaluation techniques we often spend quite a long time on the site itself before looking beyond it – which is a waste of time if the site is deliberately setting out to mislead. I wanted to encourage students to look at the big picture first and then decide whether it was actually worth their time trying to understand what the site had to say. As they weren’t in a computer room for this lesson, I did need to step them through this a bit and show them what they would have found if they had done some wider searching.
After the starter activity I asked students in pairs or threes to highlight on their paper copies of the articles things that looked encouraging, things that rang alarm bells and things they would want to do some further searching to verify. I was quite startled that none of them felt the phrase “alarmist organizations like NASA, NOAA, and the UK Met Office” should be ringing any alarm bells for them! None of them had heard of Breitbart either.
Engagement was high, even though this was the last lesson of term, and after we had talked a bit about the article we did a CRAAP test together using their mini-whiteboards and they were reassuringly accurate. The teacher was very pleased with the intervention and felt the class came away much more engaged with the idea of verifying sources.