Sometimes when I teach Information Literacy, I try to come up with unique ideas to teach how to verify information on the web. What I have found to be fun as well as informative is using strange news to achieve this. Some examples include:

  • In November, Britain’s new weather-themed Cool Cash lottery game was canceled after one day because too many players failed to understand the rules. Each card had a visible temperature and a temperature to be scratched off, and the purchaser would win if the scratched-off temperature was “lower” than the visible one. Officials said they had received “dozens” of complaints from players who could not understand why, for example, minus-5 is not a lower temperature than minus-6.
  • Belleville, Ill., psychiatrist Ajit Trikha pleaded guilty in June to defrauding Medicare and Medicaid of at least $1.85 million, including invoices claiming he worked more than 24 hours a day on 76 different occasions (40 hours on one day and treating 83 patients in 2 1/2 hours on another). He also claimed to treat patients 1,267 times in Belleville while he was traveling in Europe.
  • A fiery auto crash in July near Augusta, Ga., had killed the driver and would likely kill the passenger, too, if the fire were not immediately smothered. Firefighters were still minutes away, but passing by was a pump truck from a local plumbing company, whose quick-thinking driver extinguished the flames with 1,500 gallons of raw sewage from a septic tank-cleaning job he had just finished.

These three stories come from News of the Weird. There is a great and simple lesson plan on this site, which has the students break into groups and try to verify the information using a variety of reputable news sources including Lexis-Nexis.  What types of stories or sources do you use to teach verifying information on the web?

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