The Trouble with Quotes on the Internet: Teaching your Students how to Search Effectively

Common Core State Standards: 
Informational Text
Instructional Strategies: 
Writing Process
“The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that it's difficult to determine whether or not they are genuine." - Abraham Lincoln (Source)

Common Core Standards: 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.6-8.8 , CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.6, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.8, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.8, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.8

Access to online resources has been both a blessing and a curse for many teachers. On the one hand, students have the ability to find resources and research from a wide variety of sources when doing their class work. They are no longer limited by what is available in their local library. On the other hand, the internet is a vast place, and without someone to help students navigate, evaluate, and curate information, students may get overwhelmed. Determining which pieces of information are credible may pose a particular challenge for many of your students.


The ability to instantly look something up has enormous educational benefit. Knowing that a world of information is at their fingertips can make kids more self-sufficient researchers. However, instant access can also mean that students expect to be able to find an answer immediately. The most quickly found answer isn’t always the best or most accurate one, as our Abraham Lincoln quote demonstrates, so students need to know how search critically.


As you PowerUp your classroom with more technology tools, think about how you can teach your students digital literacy skills and help them become power researchers:

  • Tailor lessons to avoid over-reliance on search engines and Wikipedia. Most kids gravitate towards these two resources, so consider directing your students towards specific resources that are appropriate to the assignment.
  • Teach your students to use more sophisticated search habits – for example, metasearching sites like Dogpile will include suggestions and keywords to help you further target your search.
  • Show students how to use advanced search features on sites like Google and how they can structure their search to get the most relevant results.
  • Help students learn how to look critically at URLs – in general, websites with .gov or .edu names are more likely to provide accurate and unbiased information.

Check out this great video from Google on determining the credibility of information online:

Are you focusing on digital research and critical thinking skills in your classes? Share your ideas in the comments!  

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