It’s summer and if you and your children — those digital kids you are raising — are not regular library users, you should be. Almost any teacher will tell you that children who regularly use libraries develop better and more sustained reading habits. More significantly, I’ve observed that my 21st Century students with public library habits are often more critical and thoughtful users of digital materials, whether they use those digital materials at home, school, or even away from adult supervision.
No matter where you are located this summer, a library is probably nearby. Moreover, in addition to great books, many public libraries provide excellent tutorials on searching, evaluating resources, and digital commonsense. Be sure to visit.
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 “Back-to-School Research Tips: Use Curated Online Databases”→