One of the things that I’ve loved most about this professional development is the opportunity to not only learn something brand new….but to take the time to become familiar with things that I’ve heard about but never really taken the time to explore. That was really the case in Thing 9: Databases & Search Tools.
My students are just beginning their research project so this was an excellent time for me to visit the databases available and search on their topics before setting them off on their own. That was very informative and helpful. I knew each database had its own strengths but this was an excellent opportunity to see it in action myself.
Exploring TeachingBooks.net was another eye opener. I had no idea how many cool features this has: booktrailers, lesson plans and links to author websites and blogs are my favorites. I can’t wait to use this resource with students.
I admit it. I’m a Google junkie. I even took Google’s online Power Searching class. As a result of this thing I went out a tried some new search engines using my students’ search topics….and will be using them with my students TOMORROW! Up until an hour ago I was a firm believer that I should teach the students to use Google since it’s what they most often turn to. I’ve been converted. While I still believe we need to teach them to use Google responsibly I now realize that sometimes you need to give them the tools that will truly help them the most. I will be encouraging my students to use SweetSearch, KidsClick and GoGooligans for their research in the next few days. The students are researching topics such as sexual violence, cyber bullying, and teen pregnancy and the results from these search engines were much more age appropriate and useful for my middle school students.
I have also added InstaGrok to my portfolio of tools just looking for an opportunity to be used. This would be an amazing tool to use at the first level of inquiry as it provides quick facts and links for students to delve deeper in their research.