What’s an excellent fact-check?

You have two grades in this unit: 5 fact-checking blog posts (worth 50%) and a more developed one at the end called Truth-O-Meter (also worth 50%). Although the final post will be greater in scope (that is, more detailed) the basic requirements are the same for the homework posts as the final one. Again, excellence is defined by being outstanding — by going above and beyond expectations. To help us better define this, I want to start with some whole-class critiques.

I think this is helpful because it gives us something concrete to discuss and negotiate. From there we’ll look more specifically at the posting requirements so we can get a sense of the extent of how you are (or are not) meeting expectations. The goal is to clarify as much as possible what will be necessary to do well on the final post in this unit.


For homework I asked you to be ready to make a case for what excellent posts look like, having at least one example in mind. But let’s start with some specific examples and then move towards voluntary critique.

Criteria for “excellent” posts

We assess and evaluate using criteria, the plural form of criterion, which is defined as

One way we might remind ourselves of criteria is by reviewing the assignment’s expectations and gesture toward documenting them in an organized way. Where and how have they been defined? By which attributes or characteristics are your posts being judged by and how do you know this? *

Take moment to look back at these places and generate a list of ideas for criteria with a partner. In other words ask yourself: if you were evaluating yourself or your peers, what are the things the blog post would have to accomplish or communicate? Once you have a list, let’s more specifically articulate these criteria in this Google Doc.

Organizing our criteria

Now that we’ve established expectations, let’s better define what distinguishes truly excellent posts from those that are average or below and translate those into a readable scheme. One way we can do that is with a grid, so let’s use this Google Doc to begin drafting one.

Testing our criteria on more examples

Now that we’ve clarified expectations and designed a way to read them, let’s test it. I pulled two posts from a previous semester and put them on my own site to help us be objective. Let’s take a look at one and talk in class about how well the example might do based on our grid:


As you might have noticed by now, the helpful thing about designing and engaging with criteria — as well as looking at other examples — is that it clarifies what you know and what you need to know (or what you need to know better). Based on this activity, what are some things you think you should know how to do (better)?

Let’s take some time to talk about them, work on them if there’s time in class, and plan to continue our discussion on Monday with a finalized grid — usually called a rubric — in hand.

Homework for Monday, 2/5

[Note: it might be a really good idea to re-read/study Chapters 16-17 of Caulfield on reading laterally before doing this.]

WordPress post #3: Read laterally, by “looking at what other sites and resources say about [a] source.” To practice this, check the credibility of one of the following sites:

What do people say about them? You might start with Wikipedia to find out. And as you look at what other sites or resources say about these sites, use their criteria (which Caulfield outlines in Chapter 17) — process, expertise, and aim — to guide your observations.

What do other sources say, for example, about Breitbart’s research or how they correct mistakes? What do other sources say about the kinds of writers Occupy Democrats use for their stories? Are they experts? Do they interview experts? What incentive does Fox News have to get things right in their broadcasts? Who do they cater to? Feel free to look at your chosen site, but what you’re really doing is investigating and assessing their trustworthiness.



*Here are some places we might look:

  • the assignment itself
  • daily plans
  • textbook
  • discussions in class
  • examples