September brings the start of a new school year, and once classes begin, it’s not long before the first research reports and projects are assigned. To get started, your child will head right to his or her computer; however, adult assistance can ensure that a student uses quality sources, thereby developing stronger research skills over the long run.
Just about any time digital children search for information at home, they fire up Google. While their teachers use substantial classroom time and energy introducing students to the best online research resources, children often need assistance applying the research lessons on their home computers. As often as possible adults should remind children that results from Google — as wonderful as Google searching is — provide a huge number of links, many of them of questionable quality.
A better way to search for information is to access library online resources and databases — the crown jewels of student research (Links at the bottom of this post will take readers to a few libraries that describe their virtual databases.) Searching in these databases decreases quantity and dramatically increases quality — which, in turn improves the caliber of a student’s assignment.
Take your child on a tour of the online resources and databases available at your school, district, or public library website. Dozens of online resources, freely available, provide information vetted by professionals. In subsequent posts I’ll explore some of my favorite online databases.
Online resources at any given library include some or all of the following:
- articles databases
- biographical dictionaries
- facts on file
- video clip collections
- science and history databases
- photo archives
- other specialized reference books and collections
Examples of Library Online Database Websites (Most require library cards or student enrollment.)