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Searching the Web - An Educator's Reference Desk Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan #: AELP-IFO0202


Searching the Web

An Educator's Reference Desk Lesson Plan


Submitted by: Melda N. Yildiz
Email: yildizm@wpunj.edu
School/University/Affiliation: William Paterson University

Date: November 23, 2002


Grade Level: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, Higher Education, Vocational Education, Adult/Continuing Education

Subject(s):

  • Information Literacy
  • Computer Science

Duration: Three 45-minute sessions

Description: "Without tools and methodologies for gathering, evaluating, managing, and presenting information, the Web's potential as a universe of knowledge could be lost." [John December (john@december.com)] In this lesson, students apply "Internet Search Skills" to sources of information they find online. Assuming the role of a student researching a lesson plan or other educational resources, students not only explore various search engines and search skills but also authenticate the information of the online resources.

Goals:

  1. To research and evaluate the accuracy, relevance, appropriateness, comprehensiveness, and bias of electronic information sources concerning real-world problems.
  2. To explore what constitutes a reliable web page for research projects and papers.
Objectives:
  1. Students will be able to define World Wide Web terminology.
  2. Students will apply evaluation criteria to specific web sites.
  3. Students will conduct a search on the Web and develop a list of relevant and credible web resources on a given topic.
  4. Students will explore various search techniques to find educational resources effectively.
  5. Students will be able to explain the importance of authenticating online resources.
  6. Students will recognize the signs of bias and omission in information and validate online information.
  7. Students will be able to authenticate web sources based on site authorship or ownership, content, and currency.
  8. Students will be able to describe the structure of uniform resource locators (URL's) and how URLs can be used to determine authorship and credibility.
Materials:
  • computers with Internet access
  • word-processing software for taking notes
  • listserv account or online discussion board for sharing the researched material (if available)
  • Search Tips Handout

  • Search Tips Handout in .pdf format; requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

    Click the icon to obtain the free Reader.
Vocabulary:
  1. HTTP - HyperText Transfer Protocol
  2. HTML - Hypertext Markup Language
  3. URL - Uniform Resource Locator
  4. Search Engine - A web site with advanced searching software used to locate other web sites and Internet files.
  5. AUP - Acceptable Use Policy
  6. Netiquette - Contraction of Internet etiquette
Procedure:

Session #1


Activity 1 :

Ask the students deconstruct a URL address (see Internet sites about deconstructing web pages listed at the end of the lesson). Discuss directories; even a web site listed under "edu" does not mean it reflects a view of an educational site. It could be a personal page. Ask students to read Zack's story at http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/educational/handouts/internet/teaching_zack.cfm

Activity 2 :
Students respond to the following questions:
  • How many of you use the Internet for research and homework?
  • How would you rank the Internet as a homework resource, compared to the school library and public library?
  • What are the advantages of the Internet over more traditional resources? What are the disadvantages?
  • What is the difference between publishing material on the Internet and publishing material in books? (Traditional publishing incorporates a series of "gatekeepers" such as editors, proofreaders, and fact checkers. On the Internet, authors can bypass these gatekeepers. As long as you have the technical know-how to create a web page, you can publish your thoughts online.)
  • How much of the information you find on the Internet do you think is true and can be trusted – all of it; most of it; some of it; none of it?
  • Do you ever do anything to confirm that the information you have found online is true and can be trusted?
  • What do you do to check that the information you find on the Internet is reliable?
"It's important that all of us – adults and young people – learn how to search the online resources better and tell whether online information is accurate and trustworthy." (Students can talk about the importance of search skills in the classroom. Adults can discuss reasons why educators need to provide search tips, skills, strategies, and resources to students.)

Session #2

Activity 3 :
Have students identify the World Wide Web. How many of them have already "surfed" the web? Ask them how they found information using it. Were they able to find just what they were looking for? Review the differences between web search engines and web directories. Clarify Internet terminology/metaphors if needed (mousetrapping, search engine, digital divide, invisible web, cyberspace, etc.) Demonstrate a few examples of search skills using a search engine, such as http://www.altavista.com

Example search:
mp3 "Asian music" - host:com + host:org

This search string means Mp3 Asian Music files (phrases should be in quotations) excluding the commercial sites (-host:com) and including especially organizations (+host:org)

Activity 4 :
Students in groups of twos or threes explore the various search tips provided in the Search Tips handout (see Materials ). Have the students work in small groups to evaluate web sites on a research topic of their own choice. They should apply the criteria they have developed for evaluating web sites.

(Note: In order to make this activity relevant, have your students research topics they will be studying in an upcoming unit. This activity might be especially useful just before they begin working on research papers. Suggested topics to search: lesson plans, WebQuests, Internet resources on a particular topic or theme, etc.)

Activity 5 :
Students post their research findings on a selected topic. Options for sharing as a class: Send an email to a class listserv or online discussion board.

[ Author's Note: Below are some sample postings.]

In Yahoo's advanced search there is a capability to customize and restrict your search to a certain time. For example, if you were searching for info on children's nutrition, but you only wanted information from 2001, you go into advanced search and customize your search. Just thought that was cool.

For AltaVista Search Engine - http://www.altavista.com - Using the word AND between two words or phrases finds pages with both words or phrases – computers AND teaching. Using the word OR between two words or phrases finds pages with at least one of the words or phrases – laptops OR palmtops. Using the words AND NOT between two words or phrases finds pages with the desired word/phrase where the second word/phrase is not included – computers AND NOT Compaq. Using the word NEAR between two words or phrases finds pages where those words/phrases occur close to one another in any order – Jackie NEAR Silberg. To find all the pages that contain the variations of a word, i.e. child, children, childhood, etc., type child*. This can also be use to find pages which may contain variations in the spelling of a word - to get pages for theater and theatre, type theat*. To find pages that contain a particular image, such as an ocean, type image:oceans. To find pages that contain a word in the URL, such as computers, type url:computers.

The subject that I am interested in is how can technology be used effectively in an elementary classroom. I first used one of the links provided http://www.worldsofsearching.org . This was a good place to start because it has many tutorials that you can read to facilitate your search. Lesson 4, which is called Power search techniques was quite helpful. It explained when to use quotation marks, +,-, etc. to facilitate my search. From there I used Hotbot.com. I put in "technology and elementary classrooms". This linked me to Lycos.com which it said was better for my search. In this search engine, I found a very interesting web site, http://www.tecsoc.org which researches the effects that technology has on society. I think this will help me in my quest to develop my topic of research.

Session #3

Activity 6 :
Evaluating Web Resources - Topics of discussion: (taken from, "The Web as a Research Tool" )

  • Accuracy of Web Resources (Almost anyone can publish on the web. Many web resources not verified by editors and/or fact checkers.)
  • Authority of Web Resources (Often difficult to determine authorship of web sources. If author's name is listed, his/her qualifications are frequently absent.)
  • Objectivity of Web Resources (Goals/aims of persons or groups presenting material often not clearly stated.)
  • Currency of Web Resources (Dates not always included on web pages. If included, a date may have various meanings: 1. Date information first written, 2. Date information placed on web, 3. Date information last revised)
Activity 7 :
Have the students work in small groups to evaluate web sites (chosen by the instructor) on a research topic or projects. The students apply the criteria they have developed for evaluating web sites and answer the following questions:
  1. Who is the originator or author of the site?
  2. Are the mission, goals, and objectives clearly stated?
  3. What is the last update to the page?
  4. What graphics, animations, images, and sounds are on the site?
  5. What kind of stories, messages, or articles, resources are posted?
  6. Who is the intended target audience?
  7. Is there contact information for your comments or feedback?
  8. Does the site include references and credentials?
Students post their answers and reactions in class or on the online discussion board or listserv.

Assessment: Students can explore the "Internet Detective" web page and respond to the quiz questions given ( http://www.netskills.ac.uk/TonicNG/cgi/sesame?detective ). Students can reflect on their experiences using the class discussion board/listserv.

Useful Internet Resources:
* NetLingo - The Internet Dictionary
http://www.netlingo.com/

* Noodle Tools: Information Literacy: Search Strategies
http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/5locate/adviceengine.html

* Search Engine Watch
http://www.searchenginewatch.com/

* Major Search Engines
http://www.searchenginewatch.com/links/major.html

* Kid-Friendly Search Engines
http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/special_initiatives/
wa_resources/wa_shared/backgrounders/kid_friendly_search_tools.cfm


* Guide to Effective Searching of the Internet
http://www.brightplanet.com/deepcontent/tutorials/search/index.asp

* How to Search the Internet Effectively
http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/special_initiatives/
wa_resources/wa_teachers/tipsheets/search_internet_effectively.cfm


* The Web as a Research Tool: Evaluation Techniques
http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/educational/
teaching_backgrounders/internet/web_as_research_tool.cfm


* Internet Detective--- Quiz Online
http://www.netskills.ac.uk/TonicNG/cgi/sesame?detective

* Jo Cool or Jo Fool
http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/special_initiatives/
games/joecool_joefool/index.cfm


* Hoax? Scholarly Research? Personal Opinion?
http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/educational/
lessons/secondary/internet/hoax_research_opinion.cfm


* The Web: Teaching Zack to Think
http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/educational/
handouts/internet/teaching_zack.cfm


* Deconstructing Web Pages Lesson Plan
http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/educational/
lessons/secondary/internet/deconstruct_web_pages.cfm

* Deconstructing Web Pages
http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/educational/
handouts/internet/upload/11170_1.pdf


* Knowing What's What and What's Not
http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/
special_initiatives/wa_resources/wa_shared/tipsheets/5Ws_of_cyberspace.cfm

Other References:

  1. Alexander, J., Tate, M. A. Evaluating Web Resources . http://www2.widener.edu/Wolfgram-Memorial-Library/webevaluation/webeval.htm

  2. Armstrong, C.J., 1995d, Database quality criteria .

  3. Art, Design, Architecture & Media Information Gateway (ADAM), 1996, About ADAM . http://adam.ac.uk/adam/

  4. Bartelstein, A. and Zald, A., 1996, R545: Teaching students to think critically about Internet resources . University of Washington C&C/UWired Computer Training.

  5. Ciolek, T.M., (ed.), 1996b, Information Quality WWW Virtual Library: the Internet guide to construction of quality online resources . http://www.ciolek.com/WWWVL-InfoQuality.html

  6. December, J., 1994, Challenges for Web information providers . Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine, Vol. 1, no. 6, pp. 8-14. http://sunsite.unc.edu/cmc/mag/1994/oct/webip.html

  7. December, J., 1996, Web development quality . http://www.december.com/web/develop/quality.html

  8. Info Filter Project, 1996, Review title [i.e. Review template (model HTML format)] . http://www.usc.edu/users/help/flick/Infofilter/template.html

  9. Jones, D., 1996, Critical thinking in an online world . http://www.library.ucsb.edu/untangle/jones.html

  10. Lynch, P.J., Web style manual . http://info.med.yale.edu/caim/manual/contents.html

  11. McLachlan, K., 1996, WWW CyberGuide ratings for content evaluation . http://www.cyberbee.com/guides.html

  12. Memorial Library, Department of Education, 1996, Internet Source Validation Project .

  13. Organising Medical Networked Information (OMNI) Consortium, 1996b, OMNI Guidelines for Resource Evaluation . http://omni.ac.uk/agec/evalguid.html

  14. Ormondroyd, J., Engle, M. and Cosgrave, T., 1996. How to critically analyze information sources . Cornell University Library. http://www.library.cornell.edu/okuref/research/skill26.htm

  15. Pratt, G.F., Flannery, P. and Perkins, C.L.D., 1996, Guidelines for Internet resource selection . College and Research Libraries News, Vol. 57, no. 3, March, pp. 134-135. http://purl.lib.vt.edu/

  16. Rettig, J., 1995, Putting the squeeze on the information firehose: the need for 'Neteditors and 'Netreviewers . [Accessed: 4 Dec 1996] http://www.swem.wm.edu/firehose.html

  17. Smith, A., 1996a, Criteria for evaluation of Internet information resources . http://www.vuw.ac.nz/~agsmith/evaln/

  18. Smith, A., 1996b, Selection criteria for Internet information resources: a poll of members of info-quality-l . http://www.vuw.ac.nz/~agsmith/evaln/poll.htm

  19. Smith, A., 1997, Testing the Surf: Criteria for Evaluating Internet Information Resources . The Public-Access Computer Systems Review 8, no. 3 http://info.lib.uh.edu/pr/v8/n3/smit8n3.html

  20. SOFWeb, 1996, Research and the Internet . http://www.sofweb.vic.edu.au/internet/research.htm

  21. US Department of Education, 1999, World Wide Web (WWW) Policy and Procedures . http://www.ed.gov/internal/wwwstds.html

  22. Victoria University of Wellington, Department of Library and Information Studies, 1995b, Module 12: The Internet: evaluation of Web information resources http://www.vuw.ac.nz/dlis/courses/523/m12inetev.htm

  23. World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) http://www.w3.org/