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Teaching Elementary Internet Research Skills

April 29, 2008

At PS 124, and many other schools, word processing and Internet use for research are where students spend the majority of their time using computers.

Word processing falls under “Technology Operations and Concepts” outlined in our media education plan and the NETS standards. Our plan approaches typing through practice on typing programs and “learning by doing” while typing and printing written work, and publishing writing on the blogs.

Effective Internet research also involves tech operations — opening programs, typing, identifying and using links, etc. However, it additionally requires the NETS standards of Research and Information Fluency, as well as Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making. Students must learn how to successfully find information that is appropriate for them, how to determine what information on a web page is relevant to their topic vs. what will pull them away to irrelevant information.

A goal of our Media Education and Technology Plan is to design projects and activities that combine and support the development of technology operations along with media or information literacy — the critical skills to understand what they encounter on the Internet and other forms of media, like TV, Movies, Video Games, etc. The development of a PS 124 Internet Research Basics resource for our teachers is an objective for that plan.

Several teachers mentioned during our last staff development meeting that Internet research has been successful in their classrooms, and that they would like to continue developing their approach to teaching strong Internet research skills. I would like to work interested teachers to collect and develop some best practices and approaches to Internet research at PS 124, and develop a resource to add to our staff website and media education plan.

Here is a collection of sites that share best practices, resources for teachers, and activities for students, as a way to get started:

Here are some guidelines we can start with and improve:

  • Students must clearly define what they are looking for before turning on the computer
  • Teachers collect resources and use our websites to share with staff and students
  • Teach creating “Key Words” from guiding questions
  • When is it appropriate to search within a website (like Portaportal, or PBSKids.org) vs. using a Search Engine
  • Tips for searching within a “search engine” (like Google or Yahoo) (i.e. start with Key Words + “Kids”
  • Teach students how to break down a page for relevant information, links, ads and other distractions
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