Sample Unit DCTSESI

Sample Unit DCTSECI: Develop Critical Thinking Skills by Evaluating Sources of Information

Randy Sweeney (February, 2015)


The following is a brief overview of how I might structure a unit of instruction and interact with a class of students:

Goal 1:  Students develop an understanding of the Scientific Method.

Goal 2:  Students become aware of the difference between good and bad resource material.

Goal 3:  Students develop skills in observing, thinking, questioning and wondering about issues presented in research information.

Step 1: In day one, after reviewing the Scientific Method,  an assignment would be structured with the students where they would be tasked with finding both good quality and poor quality information related to an important current issue in our society, for example The Acidification of the Earth’s Oceans.

Step 2:  The students look up the Scientific Method (in Wikipedia), and describe the process in their own words.  They should study the graphic in Wikipedia.

Step 3: Through a period of several weeks, I would meet with the students, possibly in a seminar format once or twice a week, where we would discuss the quality of information students were able to uncover about Ocean Acidification, where they found this information, and what they felt were good quality resources as well as the sources they felt were of poor quality.   Students should also reflect on why they made these distinctions.  References would be analyzed related to sites they felt were reliable as well as references for information they felt was of questionable quality. We would discuss the quality of information they found in the sources, and how a person could go about verifying the validity of this information.

Step 4: At the conclusion of Step 3 meetings, I would assign one (or several) PBS online videos that they could access with their cell phones using my blog (, and  Related to Ocean Acidification, the following NOVA would be assigned:

PBS Video Link on Ocean Acidification:  NOVA – Lethal Seas 

Click Here to View Program

After enough time has elapsed for the students to have watched the program(s), we would gather together again to discuss what they have learned in the video(s) about the subject, and the quality of the information in the PBS programs.

Step 5: Each student would conclude their work with the writing of a paper in which they described what they have learned about the subject of focus (Ocean Acidification) as well as what they have learned about the quality of resources related to the subject, both good and bad, and the understanding of the subject they had developed from their research.