Have you ever looked over a child’s shoulder while searching the Internet? There are so many indiscriminate clicks! Whatever comes up first must be what they seek to find. Add to that cool graphics and ads that it’s not long before where they ended up isn’t in any way related to what they were looking for to begin with!
When using the Internet with younger children, particularly third graders and younger, it helps to have a predefined set of selected websites for students to use. This will focus the work time and help students to be more productive as the problem of website credibility and random search will be eliminated. Even with older students, I often tell them that they should first use the online encyclopedia before venturing into the search engines.
In learning how to collect key information points from a website, I often choose a topic that is being studied by that class, provide a high-content website that I have located, and then ask students to find five key points of interest. and write them down. paper. The idea of ”points of interest” is always worth exploring with a class, as children often choose isolated facts that are not important in the big picture of learning or that are not even remotely interesting. This teaches the skill of scanning a web page. Often times, students will start reading every word on a web page and then give up after the first or second paragraph. Learning how to scan a page is a skill worth teaching and practicing.
When citing sources, a common misunderstanding for students is that Google or any other search engine is the source. They cite that they found the information on Google. Helping students understand that Google is a method of finding information and not a source requires repetition. I find that students need to hear this over and over again to fully understand the difference between a search engine and a real web page source.
Trying to teach children to determine the credibility of a website is very difficult. I begin by explaining to the students that anyone in the world can create a web page on any topic. You could make a website that shows that the best tropical vacation would be to visit the North Pole in December. It could show tropical photos tied to a map of the North Pole. You could mix up photos from around the world and link them all to a visit to the North Pole. There is an excellent website to show this point about going on a whale watching expedition on Lake Michigan. An excellent lesson is to send students to this website to gather key information. See how long it takes before one of your students questions the legitimacy of this site!
Teaching students to find information on the Internet is an important skill. The sooner we teach students how to find information by scanning pages, the better the learning of all research projects and activities throughout the school year.