Should I Cite It?

Essential Question

How do I know whether a website I visit is a reliable source of information?

Lesson Objectives

  • Students will be able to evaluate a website to determine its reliability as a source of information.

Lesson Context / Summary

Due to the ubiquitous nature of the internet in our lives, students tend to believe that they already know how everything there is to know about performing searches online. However, when asked to perform a search of information on an unfamiliar topic, they tend to become overwhelmed by the amount of information available to them and have a difficult time distinguishing reliable and unreliable sources.

As I was preparing to teach this to the students, I found a rubric developed by the Ron E. Lewis Library -  based on the CRAAP Test created by Meriam Library at California State University-Chico. I did not want my students to go home and talk about CRAAP, so I decided to transform it into something more middle-school appropriate, the CITE-IT rubric

Once my students started using it, I realized that they would just mark "whatever", without stopping to really think about each prompt. Thus, I created a digital version that would require students to input a reasoning for their choices whenever they marked 3 or 4, creating an "evidence-based" version. This version is also automated, which in this case means that scores are added automatically and the students get a color-coded score aimed at helping them decide whether they should use the website for their research or not.  

You and/or your students can create your own copies for use:

1. Click on Evidence-Based CITE-IT rubric - you will be prompted to make a copy of the sheet.

2. Once you have your copy, click on Form > Go to live Form, and you are set.

It is worth noting that there is a hidden sheet where the responses are collected. Things with a blue background should not be modified.

Note: I published a similar version of this lesson on The biggest difference is the inclusion of a reformated and easier to use "evidence-based rubric" for student use. If you are wondering about how the form was created or other evidence-based rubrics, I have written a blog post with details about that - Evidence Based Rubrics using Google Forms.


Lesson Opener

I display the purpose of today's lesson:

"I can evaluate an internet site to determine if the information it presents is true and reliable."

I present this slide deck to engage the students in today's lesson



Direct Instruction

I tell the students that today we will explore how "not to get their electronics taken away", and distribute the CITE-IT student handout

After we read through the directions, I display my screen, showing two tabs. One that has the form and one that has a website to evaluate.

Two tabs open in one screen

I walk students through this first example, thinking aloud my scores, and typing my responses. As I get towards the end, I have students volunteer their replies encouraging them to also think aloud. Once we submit this form, I show students how to navigate to the form responses to look up the final score for the site and discuss how this number gives me an idea of whether I should use it for my "project or not.



Independent Practice

Once all clarifying questions are answered, I have students proceed through the activity themselves. As students are working, I walk around the classroom supporting students and ensuring that they are providing complete answers not only in their form but also on their handout. 


Assessment / Reflection

To bring the lesson to a close, I have the students reflect quietly on what they learned before a quick share out of how the CITE IT strategy helps them to not get their electronics taken away. Here are a couple examples from my class.

Student examples

Extension / Homework

After this lesson, every time my students do any kind of internet research, which is quite often, they have to use the CITE-IT rubric as they are working. The students share their form with me, providing me with a link to the specific cells they used for a particular project. 

In order to do this, the student opens his/her form and highlights the rows to share. He/she then right-clicks, opening a selection box that includes a "Get link to this range" option (towards the middle of the options).

Link range

Implementation Notes

If you do not have access to 1:1 devices, you could have students do the activity in partnerships or even use the paper version of the CITE-IT rubric with magazine or newspaper articles.



Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

WOW!! So complete, detail oriented. I taught CRAAP last year. I created a worksheet but the missing piece was the rubric. I love the way you have reworked this whole concept. I am so excited to share it with my teachers. Thank you.