Climate-based Web Literacy Activity

Some materials here for a web literacy presentation to students dealing with climate.

The Stream


Evaluating Search Results

Here’s some searches. As usual, we use questions, while noting questions are not a great way to search the web. These searches have been chosen because they are at least partially problematic.

  1. Will the Thames freeze over in 2020?
  2. Is the Sun “going to sleep” in 2020?
  3. Has the new little ice age started?

For this part of the activity, try each of these searches, then rate the quality of the search results without going to the pages yet.

What is the least promising result in your search result set? What is the least promising? What clues do you use to determine that?

Look for Previous Work

Pick one of the articles you you think may be substandard. Skim it to understand what it is claiming. Check to see if Snopes, Politifact, or some other organization has already fact-checked it.

Going Upstream to the Source

If it hasn’t been fact-checked try to go upstream to the source. Skim it to see if the information here came from a better or more reliable source. Go to that source and skim that source to see where it got it until you end up at the original source.

Read Laterally

Once you are to the source, figure out whether that source has expertise, authority and trustworthiness.

Other Questions

Here’s some questions. The answer to them might be yes, no, or maybe. Could we improve the search results with better answers?

  • Are global temperatures plunging?
  • Did the Australian weather bureau tamper with climate numbers?
  • Could a sperm count drop make humans extinct?
  • Are cheetahs on a fast track to extinction?
  • Has global warming triggered a moss explosion on Antarctica?
  • Does climate change make polar bears healthier?
  • Will the earth’s atmosphere collapse due to a solar minimum?

The Book and Template

  1. Here’s the book.
  2. Here’s a list of 300+ questions, but we haven’t checked to see if they get good results and they are mostly not climate.
  3. Here’s the  Microsoft Word template for the activity.


One thought on “Climate-based Web Literacy Activity

  1. Used this in class yday as prelude to students reading your book! I didn’t follow your steps but helped students interrogate their sources. I realized pretty quickly that there was some stuff I knew well that they didn’t at all (contextual stuff) that affected how I went about it vs them. I’ll see if they do it better after they’ve read the book (groups of them will present different parts and do an activity for the class)

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