One of the simplest
ways to guide students is by providing them with a "start page" that will
link to preselected web sites. These start pages may be annotated with
specific directions or objectives for use. These pages could be constructed
through special software designed for web page construction, through html
codes or they can be made directly from bookmark files in Netscape. Bookmark
files are easy for teachers to collect, sort, annotate and store and do
not require learning a new software package or codes. They may be saved
on disk or on the school server and then used as a local web page for students.
Students access these start pages under adult supervision with the understanding
of the school's acceptable use policy in which they have agreed to appropriate
standards for Internet use.
These web sites were collected for students doing animal research in
3rd, 4th and 5th grades. Each site gives factual information about a variety
of animals, their habitat and habits. There is no master index, so students
are encouraged to visit the different sites and investigate which animals
are described on each site.
These sites were collected for research and reading for information.
Some of the articles are written specifically for children. These sites
may also be used to keep track of teams or players and use the statistics
for authentic math activities.
These pages give factual information about the Chesapeake Bay: its
ecosystem, history, plants and animals, endangered species, and efforts
to preserve and clean up the bay and its watershed. There are also sites
on Blue Crabs and ocean animals riddles written by a 3rd grade class.
These sites have online folk tales, fairy tales, myths and legends
from around the world. Some are text based and some have illustrations.
There are also several sites with student written stories. The final
section links to sites that give tips for good storytelling.
These sites are selected as resources for student learning about types
of food and the food pyramid. There is a site that explains food labels
and students can even search the USDA Nutrient Database to find the specific
nutrients in any food. There is also a data base for fast foods for comparisons.
These sites were collected during the 1998 Iditarod when 5th grade
students were reading literature books related to the Iditarod. Students
followed the race daily and read for more in depth information on the event.
This is a short list of sites intended to limit online student time
to a few good examples of child written poetry and fun poetry written for
children. There is also a rhyming dictionary that children may use to find
rhyming words as they create their own poems.
These sites were collected as general reference sites that are useful
for many situations when factual. current or geographical information would
enhance a lesson, provide authenticity to literature or clarify understanding.
Short encyclopedia sites give a manageable amount of information and a
large number of map sites allow for finding just the right type of map.
There are also a dictionaries, biographical dictionaries and thesaurus.
You will also find current weather information and satellite images for
places around the world. Weather sites were selected for ease of use and
In general, most Internet experiences for elementary students ought
to be carefully planned and guided by teachers with specific objectives
and purposes related to the content of the curriculum. On occasion
the student may use the Internet as one source in researching a topic.
Although it would be most useful to start with teacher designed web start
pages or bookmarks that direct the student to previewed selected sites
for research, occasionally the use of search engines becomes necessary.
Adult supervision and guidance is appropriate at this level, even with
child-safe search engines. Faced with large amounts of information
with no check for readability, level, reliability or bias, adults need
to help children determine appropriateness of the information. In
addition, children will need to learn simple Boolean logic and key word
search strategies as they might use in searching an electronic encyclopedia
on a CD or computer-based card catalog.
Child-Safe search engines usually find child-safe sites, however,
many of them also find sites that aren't particularly relevant to children
or may be mostly commercial in nature. Education directories with
search engines, have more appropriate sites that have been reviewed for
educational relevance. These however, may be drawing from much smaller
databases and may include some sites that are more appropriate for teachers.
The key to using child-safe search engines, is to use number of them. If
you don't find relevant matches on the first page with simple key words,
then try several of the other search engines. Because the databases are
limited, searching multiple databases will give better results.
Even though search engines claim to be “safe,” nothing on the Internet
can be guaranteed 100% safe. For this reason, students must be taught
how to recognize inappropriate sites and know what to do if they happen
to find one.