10 Ways to Help Students Evaluate Digital Information

goodwebsitebadwebsiteAlthough I am a big fan of encouraging students to begin any research project with curated resources such as the online databases at a school or public library, I know that many learners head straight for Google.

When students make garden-variety searches on Google, teach them to investigate and ask questions about what they find, especially if they are planning to use a website to learn more about a topic. The strongest 21st Century learners will make the process of asking evaluative questions second nature — examining each and every site before deciding whether or not to use the information.

Questions to Ask About Any Digital Resource          Continue reading

Back-to-School Research Tips: Use Curated Online Databases

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 at home ensures that a student uses quality sources, as well as develop stronger 21st Century research skills.

Just about any time digital kids 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, not to mention frequent reminders about applying these 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. A web page chart at Illinois Institute of Technology compares  Google searches and database inquiries. A library tutorial from Western Oregon University also compares research on Google and online databases.                       Continue reading

Effectively Guide Your Digital Kids-10 Tips for Grades 4-6 and Beyond

My design with images from the Apple website.

1.    Save Facebook, Google+, and other big time social networking experiences for high school.

2.    Know your child’s passwords.

3.    Keep online computer activities out of the bedroom. Also, plan on no-screen wind-down time during the last half hour before bed. (Yes, even those bedtime friendly Kindles – why not use bedtime-friendly books?)

4.    Set up an overnight charging area for cell phones and other gadgets outside of the bedroom, preferably on another floor or part of your home.

5.    Consider writing up digital device contracts and using these agreements with your child. Feel free to take away privileges, or even the device, if your expectations are not met.

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Staying Ahead With Solid Digital Research

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.

Continue reading