Lesson 3: Lateral Reading

Students learn how to use lateral reading techniques to quickly find information about sources in order to assess their reliability. The students are introduced to Stanford History Education Group’s 2018 study comparing how undergraduates, historians, and fact-checkers evaluate online sources.

Students are given one of the tasks from the study (determining which of two articles from different pediatric organizations are more reliable) and vote for their choice using Mentimeter. Results are compared to those of the study, which are subsequently described. Students were shown a video from CrashCourse (hosted by John Green, which prompted a positive student reaction) that explains lateral reading.

Finally, students are asked to imagine they are a journalist whose editor has assigned them to write about a controversial topic: whether or not teen sexting is harmful. Students are tasked to evaluate three specific pieces of information (a peer-reviewed academic article, a tweet, and an online article from a non-profit organization) about that topic and instructed to decide which, if any, they would use as a source in their news story.