R.CCR.7 — that's the seventh College/Career Readiness anchor standard within the Reading strand of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for ELA/Literacy — reads as follows:
Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
This is essentially the research standard within the reading anchor standards, and it is closely linked to the “Research to Build and Present Knowledge” writing anchor standards (W.CCR.7-9) and the “Comprehension and Collaboration” speaking/listening anchor standards (SL.CCR.1-3). All of these standards point to the skills necessary for gathering, assessing, and applying information from print and digital sources.
Many have said that one of the most important skills of the 21st century is determining whether the website you're looking at is reliable or not. When I Google “common core,” for example, there are various tiers of trustworthiness and usability that I use to mentally filter the search results. You probably do something similar.
- Tier 1: Information directly from corestandards.org. This information comes straight from the authors of the CCSS, therefore it has that “straight from the source” authority. However, it's also limited in that it's only presented with one voice; there's nothing personal about corestandards.org.
- Tier 2: Information about the CCSS posted by periodicals, journals, foundations, and other authoritative, professionally edited sources. Articles from EdWeek are a good example of this. Information sources in this tier are unlikely to be error-ridden; however, they can contain bias, and due to the professional level of the publication, this bias may be tricky to spot.
- Tier 3: Information about the CCSS posted on blogs like Teaching the Core, tweets, Facebook, wikis, etc. There's a lot of great information contained within these sources, but there's also a lot of misinformation and a boatload of bias. Additionally, there's often a lack of professional editing, so these sources can be somewhat confusing to navigate.
Just by going through my own processes for evaluating content, I've got a working list of questions that I can explore with my students:
- How do I detect bias in a text?
- How do I determine who published a document?
- Which “tier(s)” of information is valid for information gathering?
- Which “tier(s)” are valid for supporting a formal argument?
And here it's worth noting that, though the CCSS wants students to learn how to evaluate content, they don't dictate how teachers should teach this to their students. In fact, they don't even dictate what specific processes students should go through in evaluating content. This is another reason I appreciate the CCSS.
Another aspect of R.CCR.7 is the need for students to grapple with diverse content. Above, I outlined my process for evaluating online information, but that was only within the textual realm. What about the tiers of video content on YouTube? What about the tiers of content available via podcast? How about infographics?
Integrating it all
Finally, the last crucial skill within R.CCR.7 is bringing all of this information together. Many of my students last year believed that every source they found during a research project should be used in their argumentative research papers. Perhaps the most challenging part of R.CCR.7, for me, is teaching students how to take a wide range of diverse content and allow some of it to merely inform a piece of writing and some of it to support the writing with authoritative evidence.