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Common Core Standards: ELA - Literacy

Grade 11-12

Reading RST.11-12.7

RST.11-12.7. Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

Set the Stage

Today’s students are whizzes at using technology, but they must be taught to use these resources in an academic way. Being able to find credible and relevant information within their sources is critical. Good researchers look for credible information in a variety of formats, and students need to be able to evaluate all different types of sources and integrate the most relevant information into their own work in order to answer a question or solve a problem. Challenge your students to find corroborating evidence for their topic in different formats. What does each format lend to their research? Model for students how to assess the reliability of different types of sources. Another great practice is to give students a sample topic and several pieces of source information related to that topic. Ask students to select the most relevant piece of information for the given thesis. Students are often guilty of believing everything is important, and source information can take over their own writing and ideas, but sometimes it may be just one sentence from the material that is needed to answer their question.

Example

Dress Rehearsal

A new riddle of the sphinx: You know it passes. You know it can be measured. You know you are ruled by it. You know you want more of it when you’re having fun, and less of it when you’re in school. What is it? Time, of course, but what is time really?

The dictionary defines time as “the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.” Furthermore, it is “a non-spatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future. “ At first glance, these definitions seem quite reasonable.

Your physics book takes this a step further. It contradicts the second description. It boldly suggests that “motion through space is related to motion in time.” You can thank that wacky genius, Albert Einstein, for this theory. Einstein theorized that by moving through space, including just taking a walk, we alter time itself since the movement speeds up the future. He called this his special theory of relativity.

When studying the concept of time, you’ll notice that none of it seems to make any sense. None. Nill. Zip. Zero. But don’t let being a little human keep you from having fun with time. Newton and his friends questioned whether the universe exists in time and insisted that time moved in a linear fashion. Today, most of us see time as a product of the past, the present, and the future, always moving in one direction.

But Einstein said time does not exist as we see it. He states that there is no time just as there is no space outside the universe. Um...what? Einstein argued that space and time are two parts of one element called space-time. We all live in space-time. If you’re standing still, you’re moving solely through time. If you’re taking that walk, you’re traveling through space but mainly time.

Here comes the amazing thing. If you could travel at the speed of light, you would be traveling through space only… no time at all. Crazy, huh? No wonder Einstein’s hair always seemed to be standing up! There’s more.

Motion in space always affects time, whether that motion is slow or fast. Movement, then, changes time…in the future. That stretching of time is barely noticeable as we move slowly on earth, but future travelers moving close to the speed of light in outer space will be able to move so quickly in time that they can be centuries ahead of the rest of us. Maybe there was something to all those Back to the Future movies after all, though I think Einstein is talking about speeds far greater than 88 miles per hour.

Hard to believe, isn’t it? Your textbook goes on to give this idea a little boost by explaining the theory of the relativity of motion. Motion is relative in that speed depends upon the position from which the movement is being observed. Imagine you and a truck are stationary. The driver throws a ball at you, and it travels 60km per hour.

Now, imagine that the truck is driving toward you at 40km per hour while someone is throwing the ball at 60km per hour. The ball now travels at a speed of 100km per hour. Inversely, imagine the truck traveling away from you 40km per hour while throwing the ball at the same speed. The ball is traveling just 20km per hour. So, motion is relative.

While a thrown ball and moving truck might react this way, light does not. In empty space, or a vacuum, its speed is constant no matter the speed of source or receiver: ALWAYS about 300 000km per second, the maximum speed anything can move. Think of it this way: the light of some of the stars in the universe has already left them long ago, but we can still see the light. Unbelievable?

Let’s let another source, a documentary called The Fabric of the Cosmos: The Illusion of Time, take it from here. You learn that there is, in fact, no distinction between past, present, or future. Time has been measured with reference to the earth’s rotation, creating the concept of the 24-hour day, 60-minute hours, 60-second minutes… and so on. Yet Einstein proposed that time could run at different rates and be different for each person.

Motion through space affects the passage of time, slowing it down. On earth, we don’t notice this because our movements are so slow that motion’s impact on time is unremarkable. But it is measureable. An experiment involving a jet flying around the world with an atomic clock showed that, upon landing, that clock was no longer in sync with a clock on the ground.

Thus, the distinctions we make among past, present, and future, might only be an illusion. As you continue to view the documentary, you learn that past, present, and future according to the laws of physics all exist and are equally real. This renders the flow of time as an illusion. To put a wrinkle in this idea, just know that gravity can exert a pull on time slowing it down as well. But, we’ll save that explanation for another time.

For now, you’ve collected a great deal of information from a dictionary, a textbook, and a documentary film. Putting it all together, you can better explain the concept of time in a more knowledgeable fashion.

Sources:

Hewitt, Paul G. Conceptual Physics, 3rd edition. California: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1997.

“Time.” The Free Dictionary. 2012. Farlex, Inc. 10 May 2012.
< http://www.thefreedictionary.com/time>.

Greene, Brian, et al. The Fabric of the Cosmos: The Illusion of Time. Dir: Randall MacLowry. Perf: David Albert, Randall MacLowry, and Peter Galison. Nova, 2011.

Quiz Questions

Here's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.

True/False

  1. Accurate information is accessible from a variety of sources.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). You can find accurate information in online databases, journals, magazines, newspapers, library resources, videos, and primary sources. The trick is, not ALL information in any of these sources will necessarily be accurate 100% of the time. That’s why it’s important to read critically and evaluate the credibility of each source.


  2. Multi-media includes videos, recordings, simulations, graphs, and images.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Multi-media means any of the possible ways one could present information.


  3. Information from multiple sources is always in agreement.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). Unfortunately no, and this is where things can get confusing. How will you know which one is right? Or are either of them exactly right? Well, good researchers know how to evaluate sources and synthesize information from a lot of sources in order to come up with the best possible understanding of a subject or answer to a question. Again, you’ll want to evaluate the credibility of each source. What is the background of the author? Is the publication well-respected? Is one source more current than another, perhaps reflecting newer information? Can either source be corroborated by other sources? Who presents the most convincing or reliable data? Answering these questions will help you reconcile differences in the information.


  4. Using many sources to explain a concept or process is usually better than just one source.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Definitely, for all the reasons mentioned in question three. One source might be biased, outdated, or just plain wrong, so you always want to find multiple sources on a subject in order to be sure the information is as accurate as possible.


  5. Integrating information means to give equal weight to each source.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). This one is tricky, but integrating information means you as the researcher make an informed decision about which sources are the most credible and therefore deserve the most weight. Some factors you might consider are how current and thorough the information is and how any possible biases of the author may have affected the information.


  6. One source might be more reliable and more accurate than another.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). One source often is more reliable than another, so it’s important to know how to evaluate the credibility of each source. See the discussions for questions three and five for some pointers.


  7. Quantitative, or numerical, data is always more reliable than other kinds of information.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). This is another tricky one because it may seem like hard numbers must be correct while information in a text or video or interview might be swayed by bias. Here’s the thing, numerical data can be just as biased, outdated, or incorrect as anything else. That’s why you always have to evaluate the credibility of every source (see question three). When evaluating numerical data, you want to look at the research methods and procedures. How did the authors come up with those numbers? They don’t tell you? Hmm, very fishy; we’d recommend finding some corroborating evidence. If you do know the research methods, consider how reliable those methods are. Is the sample size large enough? Did they repeat the experiment to verify the results? Could the research methods have skewed the data in a particular way? Did the researchers leave anything out? These questions will help you determine if the numerical data is truly reliable or not.


  8. Information from one source might better explain the information from another source.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). That’s the whole point of corroboration, man. Hopefully you’ll find sources that complement each other and improve your understanding of the subject by giving more detail on a particular area or shedding light on a different perspective.