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Fact checking 1


Editing is more than putting commas in the right places and following AP style. An important editing job is fact checking. In today’s media-rich world, sometimes sources get things wrong, and it’s important for all media to maintain its credibility. These tips will help students practice using methods newsroom pros use, too, and apply them to their own student media.



  • Students will practice various approaches to fact checking their work and that of others, including using an accuracy checklist.
  • Students will identify an article’s contents that need to be fact checked.
  • Students will use resources available – web, directories, etc. – to check appropriate facts.


Common Core Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.


50 minutes


Slideshow: “Fact checking like the pros”

Handout: Fire story

Answer key: The ultimate source, one per group

Colored markers if available

Handout: Fact checking list

Lesson step-by-step

1. Provide a bridge — 15 minutes

Discuss how a story isn’t really done until it’s fact checked. Present the slide show, emphasizing the very hands-on way newsroom professionals fact check articles. It’s a lot more than just reading everything carefully.

2. Distribute the fact-checking guide sheets and sample story — 20 minutes

Go over the fact checking list and explain how it should be used. Divide students in groups of 3-4, designating one the “Ultimate Source” and giving that student the Ultimate Source answer key. Have the others work together and highlight or note what facts they think should be checked. Suggest students mark different possible errors with corresponding colored markers (names in question = yellow, addresses = blue, etc.). When they find an item they think should be researched in a directory or other reference source, they should ask the “Ultimate Source” in their group if it is correct or how it needs to be changed. Work through the whole article.

3. Assessment and feedback — time could vary

Project a sample story and have groups share what they found and corrected. How many did each group miss? Why do they think they missed these? How do they think they succeeded at the first attempt to be fact-checkers? What could they do to catch more in the future?

4. Variations —
Homework or Day 2: Have students exchange stories of their own and go through the checklist, fact checking everything. Be sure they try to spot what each writer could do to make information and writing better.


Formative assessment

Student responses to the posted story would give an indication of understanding and number of errors they found. Exit slips could ask what kinds of facts they think someone might need to check carefully in their current stories.

Summative assessment

For work outside class, have students find a short news article in a commercial daily or a past issue of the school’s newspaper. Using the same system with colored markers, have them indicate what each thinks should be checked — and check it if possible.


Student groups could work could match more experienced students with those who might be struggling. The teacher could project the story and, as a group, students could decide what should be checked and how they would check it.