2023 Georgia Institute:

Teaching Students to Evaluate Sources and Claims

Day 1


Introductions, Icebreaker & Paperwork

Day 1 Activity 1 Welcome & Intro title slide

Science in the News

How often do you see claims made in the news that seem to be backed by scientific evidence? How can you tell what is real and what is not? Analyze two sources to identify claims or models and the evidence that supports them.

Activity 2: Science in the News title slide



  • ....a little time for yourself

Disciplinary Venn Diagram

Consider how Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts practices overlap in each content area.




LR Activity: Extreme Weather

Use lateral reading to evaluate the credibility of two sources related to extreme weather.

Activity 4: LR Extreme Weather title slide



  • ....a little time for yourself

MEL Activity: Extreme Weather pcMEL

Use a pre-constructed MEL (pcMEL) diagram to investigate two explanations for increases in extreme weather events over the last fifty years.

Activity 5: pcMEL Extreme Weather title slide

Connections between LR and MEL Activities

Revisit your Disciplinary Venn Diagram posters. What connections exist between an LR lesson and a MEL lesson? What further connections can we make?

Activity 6: Connections title slide

Wrap Up

Feedback on two questions: 1) How do you feel after today? and 2) What questions do you have after today?

Day 2

Lateral Reading Research Talk

How does lateral reading affect students' abilities to evaluate sources, claims, and evidence? What does the research show?

Activity 8: LR Research title slide

MEL Activity: Soil & Food Security baMEL

Build a MEL (baMEL) diagram to investigate the role of soil in providing food for the world's growing global population. Choose from three models and eight lines of evidence.

MEL Activity: Soil & Food Security title slide

LR Activity: Conserving Attention with Lateral Reading

While students are able to quickly access vast amounts of information today, they often need help deciding what deserves their attention.

Teen Internet Use

LR Activity: Introduction to Credibility

What does it mean for a source to be credible? How do you decide whether to believe someone?

LR Activity: Intro to Credibility title slide



  • ....a little time for yourself

MEL Activity: Compare and Contrast pcMELs and baMELs

What are the instructional differences for students and teachers between pcMELs and baMELs?

MEL Activity: Compare Contrast Venn title slide

MEL Activity: Assessing Student Work

Read an article. Then use a rubric to assess NGSS scientific practices and cross-cutting concepts within samples of student MEL explanation tasks.

Assessing MEL Student Work Samples

LR Activity: Modeling Lateral Reading

Plan a modeling lesson for lateral reading. Analyze a transcript of Sarah modeling. Then generate your own script for modeling lateral reading. "Model" that script and reflect on the process with a partner.

LR Activity: Modeling Lateral Reading title slide

LR Activity: Facilitating Discussions About Lateral Reading

What purpose does discussion serve in a lateral reading lesson? Plan a discussion about a source, rehearse that discussion with your colleagues, and reflect on the process with them.

LR Activity: Facilitating Discussions About Lateral Reading title slide



Online Materials

Take a quick tour of the project website.

MEL Website

MEL Activity: Dead Zones baMEL

A dead zone is an area of water that is low in oxygen. Aquatic life cannot survive in a dead zone. Build a MEL (baMEL) diagram to investigate whether and how aquatic dead zones may be repaired. Choose from three models and eight lines of evidence.

MEL Activity: Dead Zones baMEL title slide

MEL Activity: Transfer Task

Use a transfer task to determine if students can: 1) transfer the skills acquired from MELs and baMELs to science phenomenon and claims made in real-world scenarios; 2) identify models and evidence in science articles; and 3) based on the evidence presented, evaluate the plausibility of each model. What do students do differently when evaluating articles compared to the MEL task? What similarities?

MEL Activity: Transfer Task title slide

LR Activity: What Comes After Lateral Reading?

Explore additional resources, ways to assess lateral reading, and strategies, such as click restraint, that might help students abandon sources that aren't credible enough for their information goals and instead, help them read credible sources, analyze claims and evidence, and ultimately develop their own explanations or claims.

LR Activity: After Lateral Reading title slide

Wrap Up

Feedback on two questions: 1) What are two takeaways from today's sessions? and 2) What is the one thing you are considering using in your classrooms?

Day 3

MEL Research Talk

How do students negotiate evaluations of the relations between lines of scientific evidence and alternative explanatory models of a phenomenon during an argument-based learning activity? How do students plausibility judgements change pre- and post- MEL activities? Does this make a difference between pcMELs and baMELs? What does the research show?

Plausibility Finding

Talk Moves

In order to process, make sense of, and learn from their ideas, observations, and experiences, students must talk about them. What does academically productive talk look like?

Activity 11: Talk Moves title slide



  • ....a little time for yourself

Making LR and MEL Connections

How might LR and MEL activities go together? What could this look like in the classroom?

Activity 12: Making LR and MEL Connections title slide

MEL Activity: The MEL Project Teacher Guide

Take a tour of The MEL Project Teacher Guide. Check out directions and hints for using pcMELs, baMELs, and virtual MELs in the classroom.

MEL Project Teacher Guide title slide

LR Activity: Addressing Unhelpful Strategies

What do you think/know your students have learned from other classes or past teachers about evaluating online information? How can you help counter unhelpful strategies?

LR Activity: Addressing Unhelpful Strategies title slide



MEL Activity: Reviewing four build-a-MELS

Read and analyze four articles about baMELs. Examine the models and the type of explanation that underlies the models. What tips, pedagogical strategies, & potential problems are given for implementing these baMELs?

MEL Activity: Reviewing Four Build-a-MELs title slide

MEL Activity: Deep Dive - pcMELs and baMELs

How do the MELs align with Science Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE)? What instructional strategies do you have for implementation?

MEL Activity: Deep Dive - pcMELs and baMELs title slide

LR Activity: Resources for and Assessing Lateral Reading

Research a lateral reading source. Why is it a good resource for lateral reading? Consider additional assessment options for lateral reading.

LR Activity: Resources for Lateral Reading title slide



  • ....a little time for yourself

Implementation Planning

If you're here in a team, what will implementing LR and MEL in your classrooms look like? What kinds of coordination will you need to do? If you're flying solo, what components (LR or MEL) can you use? Are there ways to bring in the principles of the other into your classroom? Are there teammates at your school that you could teach with about LR and MEL?

Implementation Planning title slide

Participating in Research During the Upcoming School Year

Find out what's involved and what you get by participating.

Research Participation title slide

Wrap Up

Contact us at MEL2institutes@gmail.com with your questions, suggestions, ideas, etc.

MEL/baMEL Gameboard

Some teachers like to create large "gameboard" versions of the MEL/baMEL diagram. The components included in the Teaching Resources section are designed for letter size paper. The components below are for an 18 X 24 inch version.


MEL/baMEL Gameboard Template 18x24
MEL/baMEL Gameboard Template 18x24[creative commons]
Provenance: UMD Science Learning Research Group
Reuse: This item is offered under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ You may reuse this item for non-commercial purposes as long as you provide attribution and offer any derivative works under a similar license.

Project Support

This institute is supported in part by the NSF under Grant Nos. DRL-2201012, DRL-2201013, DRL-2201015, DRL-2201016, DRL-2201017, and DRL-2201018. Previous support came from Grant Nos. DRL-2027376, DRL-1721041, and DRL-1316057. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the NSF's views.