Searching for Information
There are two basic types of search tools on the Web-subject directories, such as my online education resource (http://discoveryschool.com/schrockguide) and the Yahoo Subject Index (http://search.yahoo.com/dir?qry=&ei=UTF-8), and search engines, such as Google (http://www.google.com/). To get a feel for the information available on a topic, you can start with directories. If you have already identified keywords and synonyms associated with your topic, you might begin with search engines. A smart choice is to go directly to a search engine's advanced search pages (www.google.com/advanced_search), which allow you to limit or broaden your searches.
Critically Evaluating Information
Next, you'll need to critically evaluate the content of sites for authenticity, authority, and validity. In my online site-evaluation guide, (http://school.discovery.com/schrockguide/
eval.html), I always urge educators to ask the following five questions about a site:
Who wrote the pages and is he or she an expert?
- What does the author say is the purpose of the site?
- When was the site created and when was it last updated?
- Where does the information on the site come from?
- Why is the information useful for my specific purpose?
You should be able to answer all of these questions, and-if the information is supported by other sources, both online and in print-you should feel comfortable using the site.
Once you locate sites in support of a project, the next step is to present them in meaningful ways to students. One way is to create an electronic document (such as in Appleworks® or Microsoft Word®) that includes automatic hyperlinks to sites along with your annotations. There are also easy-to-use online tools, such as Filamentality (www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/fil/) and Trackstar (http://trackstar.4teachers.org), which allow you to create Web documents for student access from any computer.