IThe ability to conduct internet research and choose reliable sources is increasing in importance, even for the youngest of elementary school students. This lesson will teach your elementary students how to go about choosing the most reliable sources online, while avoiding inaccurate or unreliable internet resources.
Learning Outcomes (List specifically what the students will be able to do once the lesson is complete: knowledge or performance based)
-Students will understand the similarities and differences between conducting research with print materials and conducting research over the internet
-Students will use educational search engines to find resource materials for their biography
-Students will distinguish between reliable sources and less reliable sources
-Students will understand the importance of citing sources
Advance Preparation and Management:
-Check out computer lab for language arts hour in advance
-Students should already be familiar with use of computers and basic internet research from time spent in “technology specialist” class typically held once a week
-list of children’s search engines
-Make a checklist/guideline for appropriate internet sources
-Hand out this form as students are logging in to their computers at the beginning of the lesson
-There should be an overhead projector that connects up to a computer in the room-use this for demonstration. Plan out a list of websites to visit for demonstration purposes.
“I am impressed with how diligent you have been with researching books and encyclopedias and other print materials. These kinds of materials are very useful for research, but they are not the only way to find information. You all have used internet search engines before and know how helpful they can be. With the internet, you can quickly find a huge amount of material for researching any topic you can think of. This makes internet research both convenient and potentially dangerous-sometimes, resources that are less reliable show up in your search, and if you don’t know whether your resource is reliable or not, there’s a possibility that you could use incorrect material in your research. This would lead to your own biography not being correct, and when you shared this information with others, they would be learning incorrect information as well. As you can see, a little bit of bad research can have a huge effect-it’s a little like the ripple effect when you throw a stone in a pond-the stone lands in the water and it causes larger and larger ripples, so that the effect of one small stone reaches across dozens of yards. The effect of a slip-up in your biography due to bad research is more serious than you might think. “
“So we know now that it is important to use reliable sources, but how do we know if a source is reliable or
not?That is what we’re going to learn how to do today: gather resource materials from the internet and determine whether or not they are reliable.”
Using demonstration computer attached to projector, bring up a window for internet and go to http://www.awesomelibrary.org/ (children’s research search engine) Students should not use computers during presentation
I am going to demonstrate finding research materials for Louis Braille. I went to the first website on the list, called Awesome Library. As you see, in the right-hand column, there’s a box for typing in keyword searches. We learned about keyword searches earlier this year, so you should all be experts. And this is an easy keyword search: just type in the name of the person you’re writing about. So I’ll type in “Louis Braille.” Type in keyword, there will be no search results. “Bummer! Nothing came up! To be sure, I should check that I spelled his name correctly. Hold up picture book with Louis Braille on the front. And as you see, I did spell his name correctly, so that just means that this search engine didn’t find anything. Some search engines will find materials for certain people, and sometimes the same search engine won’t have anything. For example, if I typed in another famous name, I might find a lot of materials. Type in “Cleopatra.” “As you see, I came up with a ton of websites that talk about Cleopatra. Click on touregypt.net, the first website in search engine list. Now, I found a website with some information, how do I decide if it’s reliable or not? Take a look at the internet site evaluation form I handed out at the beginning of class. As you see, the first topic on the form talks about the appearance of the page. First, it asks if the spelling is correct and the words are capitalized and punctuation correct. You’d be concerned if a book about Cleopatra spelled her name incorrectly, and same goes for a research website. If the person who created the website wasn’t even capable of using correct spelling and punctuation, there’s a good chance that the actual information is incorrect. Fortunately, this website appears to have demonstrate good spelling and grammar. Next, we check to see if the author’s name and contact information is listed on the page. Usually this information will be at the top of the page with the title, or at the very bottom of the page. I don’t see it at the top, so I’ll scroll to the bottom of the page.Scroll through page to the bottom. Okay, there doesn’t appear to be any information on who wrote this page. There is a name for the person who created the layout and artwork, but not the author. This doesn’t automatically make this an unreliable source, but it is definitely preferable to have a source that lists the author’s name and some form of contact information, such as email address. The next question asks if there is a date listed for when the website was created. As you see, at the bottom, it gives the date “1996.” That’s a pretty long time ago-older websites are also not necessarily bad, but there could be some new information on Cleopatra that people didn’t know about in 1996, so a resource from 2009 or even 2004 would be a lot more reliable. So it is definitely preferable to use more recently created material.”
“The next few questions on the evaluation deal with the information on the website and how correct it is. In general, you should scan through the information to see if it seems correct. If you notice something that is clearly wrong, then the website you’re looking at is not reliable, and you shouldn’t use it for your research. So, skimming through this page, I don’t see anything obviously wrong, but if I did, I shouldn’t use it. Finally, the evaluation asks a few questions about whether or not the website has information such as helpful links to other websites, or pictures or graphs. These features are not absolutely necessary, but they are helpful, so keep them in consideration.”
“So, after looking at a website, you should look at how you filled out the form. If most of the categories got a “5” on the evaluation rubric, then you should definitely use the website because it is accurate and reliable. If most categories received a 1,2 or 3, then don’t bother, there are too many problems that point to it being a bad website. And if the scores are all over the place, like there’s a 5 for spelling and a 1 for helpful links to other websites, then use your own good judgement when deciding whether or not to use the site, remembering of course, that nice pictures and outside links are not necessary, and a perfectly good website might only score a 1 on this category. Decide if it is a reliable source for your biography, and then write a paragraph about why or why not the website was useful. I would like each of you to do this for 5 websites today. Hopefully, you’ll find 5 great websites! If they all are bad, please come and talk to me, because this could possibly mean that there just isn’t that much research on the internet about that person, in which case I’ll help you find other resources.”
Students spend remainder of lesson finding internet websites and evaluating them. At end of the hour, they will revisit 2-3 of the best websites they found and print off information from these websites for use in class tomorrow. Teacher should circulate computer lab, asking and answering questions as is necessary.
Closure: “Remember today and every time you use the internet to conduct research: not all internet websites are created equal! Some will be very helpful and others are extremely inaccurate, so be sure to evaluate the website to see if its reliable before you decide to use it.”
Future lesson: using the internet resources along with print resources to conduct and organize research.
Assessment of student performance:
In the follow-up lesson when students are organizing their research the teacher should meet individually with students to discuss the sources they chose to use and their reasoning behind that decision