Trying to help our students gauge whether a source of information is reliable is quite a challenge at the best of times.
The following newspaper article illustrates that this is not just an issue confined to the internet.
Here are a few resources you can use to help teach search reliability.
How to use these resources:
I would send the students to these websites and videos and ask them to complete a research task as per usual. They could sumarrise the information, answer a set of questions, prepare a class presentation etc.
At the end of the task have a class discussion to see what they have learnt and then tell them the truth.
1. The tree Octopus
You can check out all about it at zapatopi.net
This is a great site with a whole lot of information about the tree octopus (yes you read that correctly). They have YouTube videos that prove it’s existence (see below)
2. The Spaghetti Harvest of 1957
On April 1, 1957 the British television programme Panorama broadcast a three-minute segment about a bumper spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland. The success of the crop was attributed both to an unusually mild winter and to the virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil.
The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest hoax generated an enormous response. Hundreds of people phoned the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this query the BBC diplomatically replied, Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.
You can watch the video below and read more about this hoax HERE
There is a BBC website that you can send your students to bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Spaghetti
Here is a site that explains the hoax (don’t let your students find this one yet)
3. A list of Hoaxes
You can see this list on Wikipedia
Check out the Museum of Hoaxes - there are some classics in there including the siamese twins that were joined by their beard.
Seems people have always been gullible and this isn’t just an internet phenomenon.
4. The EasyBib Chrome Extension
The EasyBib Chrome extension allows you to receive advice on the credibility of the web site you’re citing. When you are on a site, you click the extension and it runs the report.
You can take a look at the extension in the Chrome Webstore