Doing Internet Research at the Elementary Level

Here are some tips for

Search: Start with some general keywords. If your results aren’t what you want, alter the keywords to make a more specific search. I often encourage my students to put the word “kids” in to find child-friendly websites and articles. The Power Search with Google website provides detailed lesson plans on teaching search skills. Google search guide also summarizes some of Google’s advanced search features.
Delve: Always look beyond the first few results. Flick through a few pages if need be. There are many websites that use Search Engine Optimisation to improve the visibility of their pages in search results. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the most useful or relevant sites. Learn to use Smart URL searches.
Source: Look at the actual URL address to see where you’re going before you click on a search engine result. Use some intuition to decide whether it seems reliable. Is it from a well-known site? An educational or government institution? Is it a forum or opinion site?
Validity: Is this website credible? How can we make sure that the information we found is true? Make their own judgment by checking more than one source.
Purpose: Be wary of websites that are cluttered with advertisements or might be trying to sell you something.
Background: When reading articles, try to look for the author’s name and when the article was written. Is it recent or outdated? Has the author written something else as well?

Teacher tips:

Teach: Integrate the teaching of these skills into everything you do. Model your searches explicitly and talk out loud as you look things up. Researching skills don’t need to be covered in stand-alone lessons.
Justify: When you’re modeling your research, go to some weak websites and ask students to justify whether they think the site would be useful and reliable.
Path: Students might like to start their search with some sites they know or have used before rather than randomly googling.
Cite: Give students lots of practice of writing information in their own words, and show them how to use quotation marks and cite sources. Remind students about the seriousness of plagiarism and copyright infringement. These are terms even my grade two students used. It’s

These are terms even my grade two students used. It’s never to early to learn about web literacy.

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