Studies have shown that children will usually express confidence in their ability to search the web, but in reality they often don’t find what they’re looking for, don’t ask for help, and don’t fact check their results. By encouraging smart search strategies like those below, you can help to ensure your son or daughter becomes an astute user of online information from a young age.
- Typically, use of subscription databases (like Britannica.com) are encouraged over search engines like Google, since information on the ‘free’ internet can be inaccurate, biased, outdated or written for adults and not suitable for student research.
- When it is necessary to use a search engine, use a search engine designed specifically for students, like those on Star Sites for Students. Students should also attempt to judge the reliability of any information found on the ‘free’ Internet by thinking critically about the author’s qualifications and the purpose of the website.
- Wikipedia is another website whose use as a primary resource is typically discouraged, since it is a written collaboratively by anonymous volunteers and may contain false or debatable information. It can be useful, however, in providing an overview of many subjects.
The subscription databases accessible from the school media center website (look for References Resources) are the preferred alternative to Google and Wikipedia. Subscriptions include unlimited access from home or school at no cost to you, providing students with a consistent set of resources for homework and research assignments regardless of their location. Throughout the school year, students are receiving instruction in how and when to use these resources. Your encouragement as well will help to ensure their use.
Using Edina's Common Inquiry Process
Edina students are taught to use Edina's Common Inquiry Process to find answers to questions in both short as well as lengthier research assignments. By using similar language to the Engineering Design Process used in grades 2-5, students internalize the steps necessary to guide their inquiry, whether it is to design an engineered product or to conduct research.
- Define the need
- Write your research question
- Sharpen the focus
Imagine and Investigate
- Brainstorm ideas
- Locate and use appropriate sources
- Note useful information
Plan and Organize
- Analyze, organize and interpret the information gathered
- Plan a quality product
- Make a list of materials needed
- Delegate responsibilities
- Follow your plan
- Share draft
- Get feedback from others
Evaluate and Improve
- Evaluate the product
- Evaluate the process
- Improve as necessary