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Teaching Lateral Reading

Evaluating where information comes from is a crucial part of deciding whether it is trustworthy. By observing fact checkers, we found that the best way to learn about a website is lateral reading—leaving a site to see what other digital sources say about it.

In this sequence of lessons, teachers model lateral reading and guide students through a series of structured activities to develop and improve their lateral reading skills. Students contrast lateral reading with vertical reading (staying on a single webpage), and learn how checking what other websites say about a source is a better evaluation strategy than trusting what the source says about itself. These lessons also introduce students to resources they can use when laterally reading: Wikipedia, news stories, and fact-checking organizations’ websites.

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