Students Need the Internet!
The Internet is a useful place to find.......
- new and engaging lessons to enhance my curriculum
- web pages with information, images, and multimedia to enhance the material in the textbook
- interactive activities to enhance classroom lessons
- fun activities for the children as instruction is differentiated for student ability, interest, and skill
lessons and activities that specifically integrate technology
Here are a few important tips from experienced teachers about using the internet in the classroom:
1. Don't expect your students to type a URL into the address box - no matter how old they are. This can be extremely frustrating and time consuming. Set up a list of links for them to click to go directly to the site.
2. Unless the lesson plan includes learning objectives related to finding, evaluating, and using information from various websites, don't expect students to do open searches on the web. Teaching students to "google" for information is a separate learning experience. Which leads us to 3.......
3. Don't waste precious instructional time letting them search the billions of pages on the internet to find information for a project or activity. Give students a list of websites that have been previewed by a teacher for reading level, accuracy, relevancy, and usefulness.
4. Don't use the web when paper and pencil or manipulative will do. A worksheet is a worksheet. Drill and practice websites aren't much more useful than flashcards. Games that practice basic skills in a drill and practice method should be used sparingly. When students use games on the internet, hold them accountable for the results. They should be given an "exit sheet" which asks for the activity name, the number of problems completed, and the scores.
5. Many of the websites that linked to this site are interactive. Look for and use simulations, multimedia, information processing where the students demonstrate their understanding by inputting information.
6. Check and recheck sites before students need to use them. The internet is a moving target and sites change constantly.
7. Have a back up plan in case the Internet goes down.
8. Use the web to reach outside your classroom. Actively seek opportunities to publish on the web, read and respond to works published by other students, interact with people using a camera and a microphone, or collaborate on a web-based project together.
Effective and Efficient Web Search
We need to think about the impact that the internet has on our expectations for our students. Do we automatically expect them to be able to know how to find information? Or is there a need to do direct instruction about a skills set that includes searching and evaluating the information from the internet. How much time is spent before and during the time students are doing a research project on the task of finding information efficiently. When they have continuous opportunities to practice the skills necessary for information literacy, they'll be able to apply the skill each and every time the context changes.
At last count, Google claims that they index over 1 trillion unique website addresses - really if you count websites that change constantly such as newspapers, media websites, social networking sites and blogs, the amount of web addresses is actually infinite! By the way....that number is 10 times the number of websites just 2 years ago! Getting information off the internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant. It's important to know a little bit about how a search engine works. For example, Google search engine uses a technology called PageRank to determine which pages to return as results of a search. First of all, every site on the Internet a gets a rank from 0-10 and is determined by the links to the web site. Each time somebody adds a link to the web site, Google interprets this as a vote for the site. The more links to the site, called "backlinks", the more votes it gets. PageRank is basically how important Google thinks a page is. If it has lots of links going to it, as told by googlebot, it will get a higher pagerank than a site with no links. The higher a page rank, the closer to the first result it will be. So a site with pagerank 10 might have the number one spot, but a site with pagerank 0 may have the 34,403rd spot.
If you are following this, you would recognize that Google may not be the best search engine to find results based on relevancy, proximity and frequency of terms.
Good places to start for a search
Ask.com - will narrow or expand your search
Answers.com - Online Dictionary, Encyclopedia and much more. All results are reference resources
Yahoo Search - Uses proximity and frequency of search words to find results. Also, check out the short cuts
RefSeek - This search engine drills down to offer results that are strictly reference resources
Other Search Engines
Clusty - narrows and expands the search much like ask, but tends to give less credible results. See what you think.
Factbites - "Where the results make sense" This site doesn't allow complex combinations of words.
Quintura - Visual search engine
Dogpile - students pick this because they like the name, also asks "Are you looking for?...."
Good for "drill down" type searches when you are not sure what you are looking for, information is sorted by "categories" by editors which often makes the results more reliable and less commercial.
Open Directory Project - the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web. It is constructed and maintained by a vast, global community of volunteer editors.
About.com - editors are experts in thousands of categories
Infomine - Scholarly Resources
Intute - Arts and Humanities database
Filtered Search Engines and Directories
Yahoo for Kids - Difficult to use for research, because it is full of advertisements
Ask for Kids
Fact Monster - Kid's encyclopedia and search engine
Open Directory Project for Kids and Teens
Enchanted Learning - 20,000 pages
Kidsclick - results have an indication as to the reading level
Zoo.com - from Dogpile, claims to have "unsurpassed filtering"
ithaki for kids - metasearch engine
Google Safe Search
Quintura for Kids - Visual Search engine
Tips on finding what you want on the web
• Be specific
• Use singular
• Use nouns and objects as keywords
• Most important term first
• Use at least three keywords
• Combine keywords into phrases
• Avoid common words, unless they’re part of a phrase
• Use plus (+) and minus (-) signs in front of words to force inclusion and/or exclusion in searches (no space between sign and keyword)
• Use double quotation marks (“ “) around phrases to as they are searched exactly as is, with the words in the same order
• Lower case returns both upper and lower case versions. Capital letter usally return exact match.
• Combine phrases with keywords, using the double quotes and the plus and/or minus signs
• Locate resources by file type (pdf, doc, ppt)
• Use Google Advance Search
• For students, consider creating a Google Custom Search Engine. This feature allows you to include specific websites to include in a search for information or a project. For example, if students are researching a famous person in United States History, preview some of the information available on sites that provide biographical information and include only those sites in a custom search engine.
Choose the Best Search for Your Information Need
Noodle Tools Information Literacy tool suggests the most appropriate search engine based on what you need to do with a topic
Search Strategy Wizard
Complete this online form and Noodle Tools returns a strategy to put you in the right direction
UC Berkely - The Five Step Search Strategy
Noodle Tools - Information Literacy: An Overview of Design, Process and Outcomes
This is a "must read" for teachers and librarians. The following is quote from the website:
"Information Literacy shares a fundamental set of core thinking- and problem-solving meta-skills with other disciplines. Authentic cross-disciplinary problems which include observation and inference, analysis of symbols and models, comparison of perspectives, and assessment of the rhetorical context, engage students in developing mastery information literacy over time."
• Look up the domain to see who owns it - http://www.easywhois.com/, or Quarkbase
• Paste URL and see traffic rank, subjective reviews, site statistics, and ownership information http://alexa.com
• Find out which websites are on "sponsored search" lists - http://www.overture.com/
• The Wayback Machine locates previous versions of webpages - http://www.archive.org/index.php
• To find all pages that link to a page you are investigating, type link: in the search bar of Google, AltaVista, Yahoo and paste the URL next to the colon (no space in between). What kind of pages link to this page? What is said about it?
• Test reading levels of websites (or documents) - http://www.readability.info/
Kathy Schrock has created a set of tools to facilitate website evaluation. She has several documents available that can be used with students or with teachers as they learn to evaluate the validity of Internet Resources.
The Hidden Web
“The Invisible Web” – 60-80% of existing web material
Stuff you can’t get to from search engines
Collection of databases and information sites, arranged by subject, that have been reviewed and assembled by specialists.
You can get to good information by putting the term "databases" next to your search term.
Invisible Web Database List from Noodletools
Librarian's Internet Index - "Drill down" or search for broader terms
The Internet Public Library - a collection of online resources that are organized by subject, everything from accounting to social sciences, features standard library services such as reference, cataloging, educational outreach, exhibits, government documents, special collections and archives, serials, and online-only services such as a list of blogs. "It can be a great place to start your research as the librarians who created it have spent a great deal of time organizing and finding the best internet resources for your use."
Intute - "Intute is a free online service providing you with access to the very best Web resources for education and research. The service is created by a network of UK universities and partners. Subject specialists select and evaluate the websites in our database and write high quality descriptions of the resources. The database contains 118588 records." (Intute, 2007)