Identifying Reliable​ Resources: Strategies to Analyze an Issue

Lesson 9

"Guess what I heard!" Gain strategies for locating and identifying reliable sources of information when researching key issues in an election. Next learn how to make friends and influence people using rhetorical techniques like the "fallacy of thinking" and "non-sequitur." What fun!


Two 55-minute class periods


Gain strategies to locate and identify reliable sources that assist with the decision-making process regarding key issues in an election.

Oregon Standards

HS.28: Evaluate how governments interact at the local, state, tribal, national, and global levels.
HS.33: Explain the role of government in various current events. 
HS.58: Gather, analyze, use, and document information from various sources, distinguishing facts, opinions, inferences, biases, stereotypes, and persuasive appeals.
HS.59: Demonstrate the skills and dispositions needed to be a critical consumer of information.
HS.63: Engage in informed and respectful deliberation and discussion of issues, events, and ideas.

Oregon Common Core State Standards

Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies
1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
2: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
4: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
8: Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

NCSS Standards

Theme X: Civic Ideals and Practices


  1. Teacher background handout Lesson 9
  2. Student handout: “Where the Public Learns About Presidential Campaigns” (chart)
  3. Politifact website:


  1. Teacher reviews fact versus opinion
    1. Discuss that during election campaigns, sources often go beyond facts by giving opinions and using sophisticated techniques such as fallacies of thinking.
  2. Fallacious thinking: Present fallacy propaganda techniques and fallacy definitions.
    1. Class discussion/teacher names the fallacies and discusses reasons why it is a fallacy.
    2. Students work in breakout groups and construct examples that fit definitions for fallacious arguments. Must do at least ten.
  3. Class Discussion: “Where the Public Learns About Presidential Campaigns” (show chart)
    1. Students discuss and rank sources of where election information is obtained.
    2. Teacher shows chart (see title above) and discusses the evolution over the years (note the greater influence of Internet today).
  4. Go to the Oregon edition of the Politifact website ( Click on the “subjects” bar. Choose an issue (i.e. education, crime, etc.) and have the students work in pairs taking an article under the issue that was not completely true. Students should click on the article hyper link on the right and answer the following which they will present on to the class:
    1. Summarize the article.
    2. State the level of truthfulness to the article.
    3. Identify what was the lie and why it was a lie.

Extension Activities

Make a “commercial” on a political issue that attempts to persuade other members of the class to support or oppose that issue. If possible, make a video of the commercial to show the class. After watching commercials, students discuss the techniques used to persuade viewers.

Teacher Background Handout

Propaganda Techniques:

  1. Labeling: Name calling; identifying a candidate with a term such as “un-American.”
  2. Glittering Generality: Vague or broad statements containing little substance.
  3. Card Stacking: Giving only one side of the facts to support a candidate’s position.
  4. Transfer: Associating a patriotic symbol with a candidate.
  5. Plain Folks: Identifying the candidate as “just one of the common people.”
  6. Testimonial: A celebrity endorses a candidate.


  1. Appeal to Authority: A statement is deemed to be true because of the esteem of the person saying it.
  2. Appeal to Prejudice: A subtle attack on a group or class of people.
  3. The Bandwagon: Urging voters to support a candidate because everyone else is.
  4. Circular Reasoning: Restating your conclusion in such a way that it is used as a defense of your premise.
  5. Dramatic Instance: An overgeneralization
  6. Fallacy of Composition: What is true for the part is true for the whole.
  7. Misplaced Concreteness: Society caused the problem, and not the people.
  8. Mudslinging: Diverting the dialogue by using personal attacks rather than debating the issue.
  9. Red Herring: An intentional digression from an issue.
  10. Retrospective Determinism: What happened in the past could not have worked out any other way.
  11. Non-Sequitur: Draws a conclusion between two events that are unrelated.
  12. Straw-man Argument: Misrepresentation of an opponent’s position by creating the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet not equivalent proposition, and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.

PolitiFact is a website that has a goal of exposing truth in politics. On a daily basis, reporters and researchers from the St. Petersburg Times examine statements by the President of the United States, congressmen, many others who work in Washington DC. Statements are rated on their accuracy and receive grades of True, Mostly True, Half True, Barely True and False.

Where the Public Learns About Presidential Campaigns

Where the Public Learns About the Presidential Campaign 

Source: Pew Research Center, The Internet’s Broader Role in Campaign 2008, 1/11/2008