I feel like I have a handle on what makes a good source a good source.  For example, when I go to a news website to grab a headline while I’m waiting for my car to be washed or nails to be done, I realize that when I go to The Huffington Post for news, it’s going to have a particular slant and I read that source knowing the background or slant and adjust my thinking accordingly!

But the trick is, how do I teach this to my students?  How do I get them to understand that just because something says it’s “news” or has a news-like header that it might be a blog disguised as a news source and that it might not carry much journalistic weight?

What I’m really struck by is how the Common Core Standards address “forms of media” and bias all throughout the Standards – in the Writing Standards, the Speaking and Listening Standards and all throughout the Reading Informational Text Standards, too!

So, I had to get to the bottom of it and figure out how to teach this to kids – how to teach them to have a filter for sources.  And what I came up with was this idea: if I can start by teaching them some “sorting” questions or questions to ask themselves as they approach a new source, I’ve given them a head-start.

Here are 7 questions to get them started – and to help you teach them to be good “users” of various forms of media:

  1. How did you find the site?
  2. What information is available about the author?
  3. Are there citations and dates?
  4. What is the domain name?
  5. Is the writing professional and obviously edited?
  6. Is the site well-designed and functional?
  7. Is it open for outside editing?