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Good fun this morning with a 2nd year English class. The English teachers and I team-teach these lessons, with me providing the information literacy and a lot of mad ideas for them to shake their heads at and occasionally agree to.

This morning’s class is studying Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The variety of magical creatures appearing in the book reminded me of the website, Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus and we agreed that part of their literacy work should be a campaign to protect one of the creatures in Azkaban.

Last week, we introduced them to the octopus site, which was initially met with looks of puzzlement then howls of outright derision.

Then I added another website to the screen: All about unicorns.

“One of these websites is completely accurate,” I told them, and the other is fake. It’s your job to figure out which is which.”

Not quite so sure now, are we? 🙂

Today I opened up the school’s own website and asked the class how they knew it was a genuine website about a genuine school – to which their first comment was “Why would anyone bother making a fake one?” (Fair comment!) One boy mentioned a conversation we’d had in another class about Wikipedia authors providing sources if they’d done their work properly – Hey, check out the transferable learning! I’m so chuffed! And we gradually ran through ways of checking a website’s purpose and reliability: authorship, domain, links, date, contents, bias etc. Apparently, the school website ‘could do a wee bit better’ 😳

Then we let them loose on the two creature websites. I’d pulled together a checksheet for them to work through, but of course, there was too much interesting stuff to explore, so it was pretty much forgotten amongst the videos and t-shirts and photos and stories and eyewitness sightings.

No matter, because all that reading and exploring is leading them towards their final evaluation: which website is telling the truth?

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