Assessing Words

Thinking about language

What’s the difference between knowing something is true and believing that something is true? Epistemology is the study of just that – what we know to be true and what we believe to be true. This video, created by Jennifer Nagel, provides a concise 6-minute overview of the theory of knowledge.

Human beings are now exposed on a daily basis to more information than ever before. Take a moment to think about everything you read, heard, or saw today in all the different formats now used to push out new material to the public. Then ask yourself how well you actually processed most of that information. Most people will admit that they have difficulty differentiating between what’s important and what isn’t, let alone how reliable any of it is.

There are strategies anyone can use that will help them determine the validity of the information they encounter every day. The material presented in this area of the Instructional Activities section of this website are designed to help educators and students be successful at determining if what they are reading, hearing, and watching is trustworthy.

The free materials offered on this site were created for middle school students and educators as supplemental materials for my book entitled The Media-Savvy Middle School Classroom: Strategies for Teaching Against Disinformation, but can be used by anyone who wants to learn these critical media literacy skills.

A Few Caveats

  • This site is meant to be used by teachers. Student Resources are provided, but please do not direct students here. Copy and paste the link to the handouts and whichever of the Online Resources you want students to use on your classroom webpage, in your classroom area of the school’s Learning Management System, or wherever you distribute digital materials to students.
  • The activities are teacher-led and meant to be interactive between the teacher, the students, and online resources.
  • The activities currently posted are most appropriate for middle school students (grades 6 – 8).
  • Activities are not listed in any particular order.
  • Most can be completed in 60 to 120 minutes, depending on your students’ skill levels, but may take longer based on how deeply you decide to explore each topic.
  • Students will gain a more comprehensive understanding of the materials if they are permitted to work in pairs or trios.


  1. Verify Quotations – Who said that?
  2. Expert Opinion – How reliable is expert opinion?
  3. Information Echo Chambers – Is your opinion being locked down?
  4. Counterknowledge – Can you recognize misinformation designed to look like fact?
  5. Before You Share – Do you verify online items before sharing them?

Susan Brooks-Young: