Inquiry on the Internet: Evaluating Web Pages for a Class Collection

In this lesson plan, students explore a class inquiry project, collecting Web-based resources that can be used for further study during the course of the class or for more in-depth projects. Students begin by brainstorming a list of kinds of information they will need to know. They then help set criteria for the lesson by thinking about characteristics of effective Web resources. Next, students use an online tool to evaluate three Websites and then locate and evaluate Websites based on the criteria they defined earlier. Finally, students discuss whether their predictions about the characteristics that would describe useful resources were effective, and revise the list as needed. This lesson can be completed individually or in groups. For demonstration purposes, this lesson plan focuses on researching a specific country or several countries; however, this activity can be completed with any inquiry topic in the classroom. Students stuggle with choosing appropriate, valid internet materials. This lesson facilitates choosing effective Web sources as students apply the concepts presented in the lesson to evaluate and eliminate sources.

Standards & Objectives

Learning objectives: 

Student Objectives:

Students will

  • explore the criteria for effective Websites.
  • search for and evaluate Websites for a particular class collection
  • evaluate the effectiveness of the collection and criteria.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 


Follow this activity with the Picture Books as Framing Texts: Research Paper Strategies for Struggling Writers lesson plan. An ideal unit might begin with sharing the framing book from this lesson then collecting Web resources as a class before students write their own contributions to the class book.

Helpful Hints


  • Check that you have parent or guardian permission for all students to participate in Internet searches, and obtain a copy of your school or district’s acceptable use policy. If desired, make an overhead of the policy to share with students. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the resources on the Writing Guides site from Colorado State University, and choose the demos that best fit your students’ needs. 
  • Choose a method for students to share the Web Resources that they find in the course of their research. The following options can work:
  • Computer-based systems such as electronic bulletin boards or e-mail discussion lists, with category headings as subject or thread titles.
  • A handout, developed by creating a form with shared category headings.
  • A class Web page, on which you list the URLs, can be added to your school Website. Students might e-mail their recommendations to you or complete a form with shared categories
  • Choose the topic for your students’ research and brainstorm a list of essential subject areas that students should cover. Keep your list for reference. For demonstration purposes, this lesson plan focuses on researching a specific country or several countries; however, this activity can be completed with any inquiry topic in the classroom and works well to supplement major units of study across the curriculum, as outlined in this list of additional collection ideas. Customize the lists as appropriate for your class. For an extended unit on science, technology, and society, for instance, you might use the complete list. For a more focused collection, you might narrow the list of categories to one area (e.g., transformations through science and technology). 
  • If desired, make copies of the Website Evaluation Form. 
  • For background information and information to share with students, refer to the Eduscapes resource Evaluating Internet Resources.
  • Test the Website Evaluation Process student interactive and the Website Evaluation Form student interactive on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tools and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.


  • Possible Categories for Class Web Collections
  • Website Evaluation Form


  • Website Evaluation Process
  • Website Evaluation Form
  • Writing Guides
  • Evaluating Internet Resources
  • Conducting Simple Searches of the World Wide Web
  • Refining Searches by Adding Keywords
  • Conducting Boolean Searches
  • Ask Kids