February 2017


Students will:

  • Practice source analysis skills.
  • Consider bias, audience, and author expertise to assess source reliability.
  • Learn about persuasive techniques and argument-building in media sources.
  • Compare and contrast opinions about President Trump’s executive order.


Introduction—President Trump’s Executive Order

Source Set A—Pro-Executive Order

Source Set B—Anti-Executive Order

Evaluating Media Sources


Executive Order: “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”

Note: You may prefer to complete this lesson over the course of two class periods—one day to review the introductory reading and discuss as a class, and one day for students to analyze sources. Alternatively, you can assign the introductory reading as homework the night before class.

Remind students that for many people, conversations about this executive order could be personal or emotional. As you discuss these issues with your class, remind students that it is important to be respectful of the experiences of others, to think before they speak, and to be prepared to support their statements with facts. You should also read and view all sources before sharing them with students to be sure that they are appropriate for your classroom.

In the Classroom

1. Introduction

Have students, individually or in pairs, brainstorm what they know or have heard about President Trump’s executive order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” You may wish to share copies of the Executive Order: “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” with students. Distribute Introduction—President Trump’s Executive Order to all students, and read it as a class. Ask students to share their reactions. Why is this executive order controversial? Tell them that we often see controversial policy ideas discussed in the media. Ask students whether they think journalists and other producers of media can be objective when dealing with an issue about which people have such strong and differing opinions. Should writers always strive to be objective? Why or why not? Explain that the class will be looking at sources that express conflicting opinions about the executive order.

2. Reviewing Steps for Source Analysis

Distribute Source Set A—Pro-Executive OrderSource Set B—Anti-Executive Order, and Evaluating Media Sources to all students. Review the steps outlined on “Evaluating Media Sources” for reading and evaluating sources. In particular, be sure that they understand the difference between a fact and an opinion. Remind students that the difference between facts and opinions is not always obvious, and that an author may selectively use facts to support their opinion. You may also want to suggest to students some steps for verifying sources and checking facts.

A List of the Selected Sources on the Handouts Source Set A—Pro-Executive Order and Source Set B—Anti-Executive Order.

Source Set A: Pro-Executive Order

 Source Set B: Anti-Executive Order

3. Evaluating Media Sources

Form groups of two or three, and assign each group at least one source from Source Set A and one source from Source Set B. (Students could also work individually.) Tell students to read or view their assigned sources. As they do this, they should follow the guidelines that you reviewed with them on “Evaluating Media Sources” and complete the handout.

4. Discussion on Source Analysis

After they complete the handout, ask students if they had any trouble deciding whether certain phrases and sentences were opinions or facts. You may want to prompt them to discuss whether the quotation from Source 1, “Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world – a horrible mess!,” is an opinion or a fact.

Invite students to share their views on the following questions:

  • Which of their sources did they find most convincing? Why?
  • What were the biases of the authors of their sources? What method(s) did students use to identify bias in their sources? How did identifying bias impact the degree to which students trusted their sources?
  • What makes a source seem reliable?
  • Are there types of evidence that seem more important or likely to be persuasive than others?
  • Did students identify any claims that, based on their research, were false? Do students think that a source with false claims or false information can be useful in any way?
  • Did the process of analyzing their sources affect whether they think the executive order is a good idea?
  • Encourage students to consider past U.S. immigration policies. Can they identify any similarities or differences between the executive order and other policies?

Extra Challenge

1. Invite students to write an editorial for a local newspaper about this executive order. When students have finished writing, have them exchange their editorial with a classmate. Have students use the steps outlined in “Evaluating Media Sources” to assess each other’s work.

2. Have students choose one example of an immigration policy from U.S. history and, in writing, compare and contrast it to Trump’s executive order. Students may wish to discuss the similarities and differences in the provisions outlined in the policy, the events that may have shaped the policy, and the groups affected by the policy.

Image Credits: Flickr. Karl-Ludwig Poggemann.


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