Friday, September 01, 2006

Searching for the Right Stuff

In the past week - was it Monday? - we were talking about searching the internet and I thought it was timely to think about the process we (and the boys) go through when we do this.

It is very easy to rush to a computer and throw the first words we think of into Google and then hit the first result for information. We need to teach children and model ourselves, a more thoughtful, considered approach.

We have an information process - it is worth looking at this and adapting it for our own uses.

Choosing keywords takes time and experience. We need to think about the right blend and combination. Booleian logic can help. These links provide some information on this:

We also need to encourage our learners to be discriminating. Always verify your information, whatever source it comes from, books or internet. Use the analogy of someone running into the class and saying that lunch was going to be early. Do you believe them? No, but you try to verify the information by asking someone else. We need to have a healthy mistrust of information.

Learners should practise thinking about the most useful places to find the information they need. Up to date information about countries of the world could be tracked down on the CIA World Fact Book.

If you require New Zealand information, try the developing NZ Encyclopedia Te Ara. And there are a couple of NZ history sites worth using: New Zealand History online and a site maintained by a NZ woman living in France: NZ History. The National Library has a growing collection of digital material including Timeframes - historical photos of New Zealand.

For worldwide biographical information try the Biography Channel and for New Zealand Biographies, try the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

And of course, the online collaborative encyclopedia, Wikipedia needs to be used as well.

Google images isn't the only way to track down graphics for your work. Teachers at Work has a good site with links to image databases.

Finally, I'm a great fan of providing online scaffolding so that learners can work at their own pace. Examples of this can be found with Webquests, Thinkquests and Jamie McKenzies "Slam Dunk" lessons .

If you have any questions about any of this, please talk to me!

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