Lesson Plan

Can You Spot Misinformation?


Jennifer Connell was called the “Worst Aunt Ever” on Twitter after she sued her cousin’s son over a broken wrist. The story, full of misinformation and inaccuracies, went viral. This video and accompanying lesson plan helps students learn how to fact-check a sensational story using a technique called lateral reading.


Students will:

  • Explain how people can be misled by online information, and describe the consequences of misinformation.
  • Practice lateral reading skills and describe the process as applied to the provided examples.
  • Evaluate sources of digital information and provide a rationale for whether the information is misleading or not.
  • Media/News Literacy
  • Social Studies
    For Teachers

    Essential Questions

    • What is lateral reading, and how can this skill be used to evaluate articles and information found online?
      • What steps are necessary to engage in lateral reading?
      • What complementary skills are necessary for verifying information?

    Additional Resources

    Transcript for "Can You Spot Misinformation?"Retro Report 
    Example images on social media sites: California Legalizes Human CompostingZeroHedge 
    Example images on social media sites: Harambe Received More Than 15,000 Votes for PresidentCOED 
    Example images on social media sites: Capital Letters Banned by University Because They Could Upset StudentsOff The Grid News 
    COR for the History ClassroomCivic Online Reasoning 
    Teaching Lateral ReadingCivic Online Reasoning 
    Lateral Reading with WikipediaCivic Online Reasoning 
    Lateral Reading with News StoriesCivic Online Reasoning 

    Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

    Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

    Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

    Analyze how a text uses structure to emphasize key points or advance an explanation or analysis.

    Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claims.

    Explain how supporting questions contribute to an inquiry and how, through engaging source work, new compelling and supporting questions emerge.

    Determine the kinds of sources that will be helpful in answering compelling and supporting questions, taking into consideration multiple points of view represented in the sources, the types of sources available, and the potential uses of the sources.

    Use questions generated about multiple historical sources to pursue further inquiry and investigate additional sources.

    Gather relevant information from multiple sources representing a wide range of views while using the origin, authority, structure, context, and corroborative value of the sources to guide the selection.

    Identify evidence that draws information directly and substantively from multiple sources to detect inconsistencies in evidence in order to revise or strengthen claims.

    Critique the use of claims and evidence in arguments for credibility.

    Questions? Tips? Concerns? Reach out to our Director of Education, David Olson: dolson@retroreport.com