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Including attributions (sources of information) in science news articles is one of the most important means of enhancing credibility. Many young writers are unaware of the use or importance of attributions. Readily available models are scarce. High school textbooks or teacher lectures generally do not include attributions. Providing support in the use of attributions in science news articles (and noticing when they are not present) will assist the students in understanding and valuing their importance.

Except for accepted facts, ideas and theories, all assertions, numbers, details and opinions are attributed. . . Attribution includes individual names or organizations, websites, newspapers/TV shows, reports, and press releases.
SciJourn Standards for Scientific Literacy

Objectives:
A) Students will recognize the value of attributions in articles they read and will ask specific questions when attributions are absent.
B) Students will work with a Track Changes style of making editor comments as they become editors themselves.

Materials: ARTICLE A Horses and Healing article
In this article, the attributions have been removed. Track Changes comment boxes are provided for editorial comments by students.

Time: 40-50 minutes

lesson – Who Says – Using Attributions (pdf)

lesson – Who Says – Using Attributions (Editable Version)

 

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In this lesson, students examine the organization and structure of the science news article and how it differs from the five paragraph essay.

“Journalism’s inverted triangle structure requires that the writer determine the gist of the story, what details are most important (these come next) and which details come later down. . .”
SciJourn Standards for Scientific Literacy

Objective: Students will recognize the elements and structure of the science news article.

Materials: The Inverted Triangle
ARTICLE A (to be cut into separate paragraphs)
ARTICLE B (intact version of article)
Several business envelopes (enough for each group of 3 students)
A piece of plain paper for each group
glue sticks

Preparation prior to lesson: Prepare enough copies of ARTICLE A so that there will be one for each group of 3 students. Cut the article along the dotted lines and place in random order into an envelope for each group.

Time: approximately 50 minutes
lesson – Science News Article Organization

lesson – Science News Article Organization (Editable Version)

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Objective: Students will recognize the elements of a well-written science news story and will evaluate the effectiveness of several examples.

Materials: ARTICLE A Apple probes iPhone explosion reports: EU
(article as originally published)
ARTICLE B Apple probes iPhone explosion reports: EU
(same as ARTICLE A but with teacher notations)
Science News Article Evaluation
ARTICLE C Teens with own cars have more crashes, study finds  – (article for students to evaluate independently)

Time: approximately 40-50 minutes

lesson – Make it Better – Improving a Science News Story

lesson – Make it Better – Improving a Science News Story (Editable Version)

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As journalists research topics, there may be times that some of the gathered facts appear to be inaccurate. Journalists and editors strive to present accurate information in their articles. Fact checking is an important job for journalists, editors and others asked to review stories. In this lesson students will be challenged to verify the accuracy of a variety of scientific facts.

“Scientific information is factually accurate . . . Students must pay attention to details, including ensuring the science is right . . . “
SciJourn Content Standards

Objective: Students will identify inaccurate facts and correct those facts using multiple and credible sources.

Time: 30 – 40 minutes

lesson – Something Seems Wrong – fact checking (pdf)

lesson – Something Seems Wrong – fact checking (Editable Version)

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In this lesson, students read several versions of the same article. ARTICLE A contains few quantitative measures (numbers), ARTICLE B offers a range of choices for reasonable quantitative measures, and ARTICLE C is the original article as published.

“Quantitative measures are given in correct and comparable units. Nearly
every story has a number—a percentage, cost, patients tested, etc. It is an
important element of science practice.”
SciJourn Content Standards

Objective: Students will recognize the importance of quantitative measures (numbers) in articles to enhance credibility and understanding.

Materials: ARTICLE A Slumber by the Numbers
ARTICLE B Slumber by the Numbers
ARTICLE C Slumber by the Numbers
Time: approximately 30 minutes

lesson – Slumber by the Numbers – quantitative measures (pdf)

lesson – Slumber by the Numbers – quantitative measures (Editable Version)

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Quantitative Measures
Lesson

In this lesson, students read several versions of the same article. ARTICLE A contains few quantitative measures (numbers), ARTICLE B offers a range of choices for reasonable quantitative measures, and ARTICLE C is the original article as published.

Quantitative measures are given in correct and comparable units.
SciJourn Standards for Scientific Literacy

Objective: Students will recognize the importance of quantitative measures (numbers) in articles to enhance credibility and understanding.

Materials: ARTICLE A Earth Knocked for a Loop
ARTICLE B Earth Knocked for a Loop
ARTICLE C Earth Knocked for a Loop
Time: approximately 40 minutes

lesson – Quantitative Measures

lesson – Quantitative Measures (Editable Version)

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In this lesson, students compare two different versions of the same article. ARTICLE B contains an abundance of quantitative measures while
ARTICLE A does not.

Quantitative measures are given in correct and comparable units.
SciJourn Standards for Scientific Literacy

Objective: Students will recognize the importance of quantitative measures to the credibility of articles.
Materials: ARTICLE A “Exceptions” to the foster care system
ARTICLE B  “Exceptions” to the foster care system

Time: approximately 30 minutes

lesson – Numbers Make it Real – quantitative measures

lesson – Numbers Make it Real – quantitative measures (Editable Version)

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In this lesson, students read several versions of the same article. ARTICLE A contains few quantitative measures (numbers), ARTICLE B offers a range of choices for reasonable quantitative measures, and ARTICLE C is the original article as published.

“Quantitative measures are given in correct and comparable units. Nearly
every story has a number—a percentage, cost, patients tested, etc. It is an
important element of science practice.”
SciJourn Standards for Scientific Literacy

Objective: Students will recognize the importance of quantitative measures (numbers) in articles to enhance credibility and understanding.

Materials: ARTICLE A Creatine: Safe for Teen Athletes?
ARTICLE B Creatine: Safe for Teen Athletes?
ARTICLE C Creatine: Safe for Teen Athletes?
Time: approximately 40 minutes

lesson – It’s in the Numbers – quantitative measures

lesson – It’s in the Numbers – quantitative measures (Editable Version)

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This lesson will help students consider the expertise of others and how the views of experts might be included in science articles.

Objective: Students will recognize the importance of experts as sources of
relevant, factually accurate information.

Materials: Name the Experts

Time: approximately 45 minutes

lesson – Who’s the Expert

lesson – Who’s the Expert (Editable Version)

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lesson – Website Credibility (Editable Version)

Adapted from a lesson written by Steve Grasser, Amanda Clark and Elizabeth Hobbs

Determining the credibility of a website can be a difficult task. It is important for students to differentiate between websites that are trustworthy and those that may be misleading. This lesson examines ways to assess the credibility of websites.

Objectives:
Students will examine clues to the credibility of internet websites.

Materials: LCD projector
Student Guide – Questions for Website Credibility
Student Guide – Website Credibility

Time: 30 – 40 minutes

lesson – Website Credibility

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