Students will think critically about evaluating sources
Group Publication Analysis (20-25 Minutes)
In your groups look over each other’s publications. Choose one of the periodicals to examine closely and critically. Notice the editorial page, the table of contents, the different sections, the ads, pictures, graphics and colors, before answering the specific questions.
To learn more about the general outlook of a periodical, take a moment to skim through it, noting the following.
Editorials. In these, the editors, making no pretense of being impartial, set forth their views. In most magazines, editorials will be in a front section and may not even be signed, since the names of the editors are on the masthead, near the table of contents. If you can find an editorial commenting on a familiar issue, you can discover the bias of the magazine's editors.
Featured columnists. Usually the job of a columnist depends on his or her voicing opinions congenial to the magazine's editors and publishers. But this test isn't foolproof. Sometimes a dissenting columnist is hired to lend variety.
Lead stories. The lead story is usually the one placed most prominently in the issue; the cover of a magazine often reflects the lead story. If you don't have time to read the whole thing, skim the last paragraph, in which the writer often declares the overall message.
Letters to the editor. You can often deduce the level of schooling and intelligence of the letter writers, and this will tell you something about the magazine's readers. Political positions aren't always easy to decipher from letters to the editor since many magazines, such as Time, strive to offer space to a diversity of opinions.
Advertisements. Ads are usually a good guide to a magazine's audience. To whom are its editors trying to appeal? The many ads for office copiers, delivery services, hotels, and corporations in Newsweek, for instance, tell you that the magazine is trying to appeal to well-educated professionals.
Step 2: Publication Analysis
Now have a volunteer from your group transcribe answers to the following questions.
What is the title of the publication? What type of publication (magazine, newspaper, website, academic journal, etc.) is it? How do you know?
What is the purpose of the publication? How do you know? Provide some examples that support your thoughts.
What type(s) of authors are regularly featured in the publication? Are there names listed? Does the publication provide bios and credentials?
Who are the primary, intended readers? How do you know this? Can you use the language of the articles, the subject matter, the advertisements, etc. to provide evidence for your answer?
What values, beliefs, needs, concerns, and expectations do the readers of the publication hold? Describe these fully. How can you tell? Provide details.
What topics/issues does the publication seem to cover? What lenses or points of view are used to look at said topics?
What is the typical length of an article in the publication? What does this tell you about the readership?
What kinds of graphics are used throughout the publication? Do the articles carry photos, charts, etc.?
What patterns do you note in the layout of main articles in the publication? (i.e. Do all the articles or columns begin the same way? Do they each contain a certain number of graphics?)
What is the tone, style or level of language (formal, use of jargon, etc.) used by writers in the publication? What does the language tell you about the readership?
Do you notice anything else significant about the publication?
Step 3. Write a Review
Each group should finish today’s analysis by writing three paragraph long product “reviews” for specific audiences. Have groups share their reviews with the class.
Review #1 Write a review of your periodical for an audience that will like the magazine/journal (Example: soccer moms and dads might enjoy Parenting magazine. Tell them why they should/shouldn’t buy it.)
Review #2 Write a review of your periodical for an audience that will not like the magazine trying to make them less resistant to it (Example: gun control activist might not like Guns & Ammo, try and convince them it has some merit.)
Review #3 Write a review for people who don’t care either way about the periodical’s subject. Perhaps they are looking for something to read on a plane. Why should they buy your periodical?
Conclude class and assign homework (3-5 minutes)
Wrap up class as usual, emphasizing the importance using today’s activities to help them be concrete and specific in their annotation responses as to why a source is credible or not.
1) Continue finding quality research that represents a range of ways of looking at your issue and answering your inquiry question.
2) Complete the Annotated Bibliography Check Sheet:
Is your MLA citation correct? What sources are you using to ensure a correct MLA citation?
Are you finding a mix of informative and opinionated sources? Which ones are easier to find? What ideas do you have for providing both types?
Are your annotations mostly coming from scholarly sources? If not, how can you remedy this gap in your research?
Do your annotations have a clearly differentiated summary and response? Aside from white space, consider what transitions you are using to switch from summary to response.
How would you describe the range of stakeholders represented in your annotations so far? Do more point of views need to be represented?
In the response section of the annotation, in what methods are you using to evaluate the source, including the publication, genre and author? Do the most important evolution points to consider depending on the source?
Are you explaining in your response section why the source is current and relevant to both your group topic and answering your specific inquiry question?