Finding the Sources

Author: Catharine Niuzzo Honaman

Time: 4 days
30 minutes to read the lesson
Materials: Arrange for 2 days with the library and/or computer lab to do research.


This is the last lesson in a learning cycle which focuses on students understanding the direct impact that the coal and oil industries have on their lives. Students know how to find reliable sources of information and how to sort out bias, now it is time for them to do the necessary research to be able to write a position paper about power plants fueled by either conventional or alternative forms of energy. Each student will locate one article about a form of energy production, read it thoroughly, to analyze how it is a reliable source of information, and then create a short presentation to show the class his or her results. This should take two days. The last two days will be spent making the presentations in which each student uses a power point program, poster, overhead transparency or whatever form you feel appropriate, to teach the rest of the class what his or her article was about and, most importantly, how he or she could tell that the article was a reliable source. As the presentations are made, the class will create an annotated bibliography of all the articles reviewed. This lesson ties into the government class final project in which the students will be representing one of the stakeholders in the community, business world, or government connected to one of the energy industries arguing their case before a Congressional panel.

Purpose – This is the Apply Lesson. Students will practice finding one solid article about energy production, reading it thoroughly, documenting how it is a reliable source, and presenting that information to the class.

Students will be able to:
1. Select an article that is about the assigned topic.
2. Read the article for meaning.
3. Analyze the article for reliability using already established criteria.
4. Organize the information from the article and reasons that it is reliable into a coherent presentation.
5. Share their findings with the class in a well-organized and concise presentation.

Strand 3: Concept 1: Comprehending Informational Text
PO 1: Compare original text to a summary for accuracy of the main ideas,
inclusion of critical details, and the extent to which it conveys the
underlying meaning of the original text.
PO 2: Distinguish supported inferences from unsupported inferences in an
expository selection.
PO 4: Organize information from a secondary source by taking notes, outlining
ideas, and paraphrasing information for an assigned task.
PO 8: Support conclusions drawn from ideas and concepts in expository text.

Teacher Background
From your own scholarly work at the undergraduate and perhaps graduate level, you should have your personal standards for what constitutes a reliable source and how to steer away from bogus, inaccurate, or purposefully deceptive sites.

For the annotated bibliography portion of the lesson you may wish to look at the lesson on the same topic found in the tenth grade, fourth quarter.

Resource Websites

None for this lesson.



1. Arrange with the librarian to use the library and/or computer lab for the first two days of this class. When the students come to class tell them what they will be doing for the four days of this lesson and perhaps what the homework on the last day will be.

2. For two days allow the students to look up articles on any form of energy production that interests them, keeping in mind that they are trying to find articles of substance. Once each student finds a suitable article he or she needs to read it thoroughly, taking notes about the main ideas and important details. These will be organized into a summary. Then the students need to use the criteria established in the Explain Lesson to examine how reliable their particular articles are. The analysis may reveal that the particular article a student has chosen is not as solid as he or she first thought. This is all right, since the purpose of the analysis is to highlight how to find good information, so negative examples are also helpful.

3. The next step is for each student to create a brief presentation in which the main ideas of the article and important details are described as well as the reliability analysis. This presentation may take the form of a power point talk using the computer or a less high tech form such as a poster or an overhead transparency. You should give the students time minimums and maximums for the presentations based on how many students are in your class because all these presentations need to fit into a two-day span. Let them also know whether their work will be evaluated based on the oral presentation alone or if a written component also needs to be handed in.

4. As each student presents his or her summary and analysis to the class have the other students note what criteria were used to evaluate the reliability of the articles. They should note the different criteria used and perhaps how often it was used.

5. The students may wish to research the same form of energy for the next learning cycle or they may wish to go in another direction. To assist them, have the class create an annotated bibliography of the articles presented for this lesson. Which ones were excellent sources? Perhaps the authors of these have written further articles or even books on the topic. What publications are listed in the works cited or bibliographies of the reliable articles? These would also be valuable sources.

Go through the list of ways that the students employed to establish the reliability of their articles. You may wish to post this list in your classroom to remind the students of the criteria which they should be using as they do their research both in English and their other classes for the rest of the quarter.

Embedded Assessment
This lesson contains opportunities for both informal and formal assessment. As students work in the library finding their articles, reading them, and creating their presentations, you can observe how well they are engaged and the amount of work being completed. During the oral presentation you can evaluate how detailed their summaries are and how methodical their analysis of the reliability of the articles are. You may wish to require a written document from each student containing the text of their presentation as a further measure of the accuracy and thoroughness of their work.

Students need to decide which form of energy production interests them enough that they would like to do a position paper on it. When they come into the next class, which will be the engage lesson of the next learning cycle, they will sign up for the form of energy about which they will be writing papers.

Embedded Assessment




PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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