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E.S.C.A.P.E. Junk News

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Students learn a handy acronym to help them remember six key concepts for evaluating information, then test the concepts in teams.

GRADE LEVEL: Middle and high school, university

TIME: 30-60 minutes

MATERIALS: E.S.C.A.P.E. Junk News poster (download); E.S.C.A.P.E.: Six Key Concepts worksheets (download); a news story for students to evaluate (for real examples, download the Teacher Resource – Examples for Evaluating Online News), internet access


    1. Make copies of the E.S.C.A.P.E. Junk News poster (one per student) and the E.S.C.A.P.E.: Six Key Concepts worksheets. (The number of Six Key Concepts copies will vary, depending on whether you’d prefer students work in small groups or individually.)
    2. Select a news story for students to apply the E.S.C.A.P.E. concepts to in their group activity. (Depending on your angle for this topic, you may want to choose a real news story, a fake/questionable story, or both.)
    3. Review the E.S.C.A.P.E. poster so you are prepared to discuss the six key concepts.

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Overview PDF DOC
Worksheets PDF DOC
Extensions PDF DOC
Full Packet PDF DOC

To request a large print or Braille version, call 202.292.6650.


  1. Ask students how they determine whether information they find online is trustworthy.
  2. Introduce the E.S.C.A.P.E. acronym by writing the six key concepts on the board or projecting the poster. Explain that considering even one of these six concepts can help determine whether information is reliable.
  3. Go through the six concepts and ask students to help you define each. Then reveal/distribute the poster, including the questions to ask and steps to take to investigate each concept.
  4. Divide students into groups, one or two per key concept and distribute the Six Key Concepts worksheets and copies of/link to your selected news story. (Note: The concepts of audience, purpose and execution take less time to investigate, so you may want to consider pairing these with the first three concepts.) Have each group take 10-15 minutes to analyze the news story through the lens of their specific concept. This is a tight timeline, but push groups to work quickly and broadly rather than getting bogged down. (Alternatively: Have the students complete one or two concept worksheet(s) each as homework.)
  5. Have groups/students share their findings. As a class, decide if the story is trustworthy or not.
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  1. From one E.S.C.A.P.E. concept alone, could you make a determination about the reliability of this story? Why or why not?
  2. Which of these concepts do you think is the most helpful in figuring out whether information is reliable? Why?
  3. Which of these concepts do you think is the most difficult to understand or apply? Why?
  4. Did you feel you had enough time to apply your concept to this story? In real life, how could you speed up the process of evaluating information that crosses your path?


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