How to best use and cite sources in a Kialo Edu discussion

Helping students become proficient at recognizing suitable sources and integrating them effectively into their work is no small task. Yet, many educators say that the benefits in doing so are well worth the effort. Working with sources not only exposes students to different perspectives, but it also helps them view information through a more critical lens. That’s a life skill in itself!

We’ve designed Kialo Edu discussions to help students incorporate the use of supporting evidence into their arguments, whether they are younger learners just learning to recognize sources, or older students working on a capstone essay. However you choose to approach this, our features support teachers in helping their students become confident identifying and using credible sources!

How students can cite sources with Kialo Edu’s Sources sidebar

Kialo Edu discussions make it easy to add and keep track of sources. When your students add links as supporting evidence to their claims, the links are all stored in an alphabetical list in the Sources sidebar.

With this collated list of sources, you can quickly review them and offer feedback as needed. Not only that, your students have a system that organizes their references. This is particularly useful if they’re using the discussion to develop their ideas for an essay.

A sources sidebar on the left hand side of the discussion shows a collated list of sources used in the discussions in an alphabetical list. A popup appears in the discussion when a linked source is clicked on in a claim. The popup contains the link as well as a quote from the source.

But aside from these features, how else might you work on using sources in your classes with Kialo Edu discussions? Here are a few engaging activities suitable for different age groups.

Engaging activities for using and evaluating sources on Kialo Edu 

Activities for identifying a need for sources

For younger learners, this can be as easy as just starting the conversation about sources. In a Kialo Edu discussion you’re using, ask them to identify claims where they feel evidence would be helpful and explain their reasoning. The first time you do this, adding a couple of fairly outrageous claims can get the ball rolling! Making this a regular activity will help them learn to spot points where information should probably be backed up.

For older students, get them to flex their research muscles by asking them to find sources which support or contradict your argument. If they’re working on cloned discussions in small groups, give students Editor permissions to add a relevant source to your claims. You could even ask them to add a comment with a correct citation in your preferred style!

Activities for identifying credible sources

With a wealth of information now available at our fingertips, the line between a credible source and a not-so-credible source isn’t always clear. The potential for misinformation, or indeed disinformation, is significant. Thus, students need tools to be able to identify trustworthy and unbiased sources. On Kialo Edu, you can help students evaluate sources by using a checklist like the CRAAP Test.

For younger learners, you can start by adding vetted sources into the Background Information in a discussion to model the type of sources they can trust. Then, ask your students to review your links against a checklist before they start the discussion. This will encourage them to look at who exactly is providing the information and what their motives might be. 

For students with a bit more experience vetting sources, you can add a wider range of source types into the Background Info. Then get students to build their own checklist to evaluate the sources against. You can provide students this guide for checking online news sources if they need some inspiration! 

Once your students are used to reviewing sources, why not occasionally add in a competitive dimension? Hide one questionable source in a Kialo Edu discussion for them to find. It can be as subtle or blatant as needs be to suit your students’ age and experience. Or, get them to fact-check their teacher! The low-stakes competitive element will capture their attention, and it has the added bonus of making sure they’re really checking out your supporting information.

We hope that we’ve given you some ideas for how you can use a Kialo Edu discussion to support your students to become great source investigators. We’d love to hear more about how you build in work on sources in your classes for different age groups, so please get in touch on social media, or directly at and share your ideas! 

Read on for even more Kialo Edu best practices — our tips and tricks will get you the most out of having Kialo discussions in your class!

Want to try Kialo Edu with your class?

Sign up for free and use Kialo Edu to have thoughtful classroom discussions and train students’ argumentation and critical thinking skills.

Try out Kialo Edu