To Search or Not to Search
Middle School Students Researching on the Web

Problems with Searching for Middle School Students

Follow the Big 6 Skills Information Problem Solving Approach

The Big 6 Skills from Dr. Mike Eisenberg and Dr. Bob Berkowitz

Teach Students to Use Start Pages, Educational Search Engines, Online Reference Sites and Safe General Search Engines

Create a "Start" page of selected links to direct students to appropriate sites and post this page on the school network or on the Web. Use or to post links. Alternatively, make a list of topic-specific bookmarks for students. Example of an Astronomy Research Start Page:

Begin students with Online Reference Web Sites for topics that can be found in encyclopedias, dictionaries, maps or biographies. Have them search multiple resources in this section.

Teach students to locate additional information using specialized educational search engines that have links to web sites that have been reviewed as educationally relevant. Make sure that the students try multiple educational search engines, since they often contain different web sites.

Make student aware of what advertisements look like on web sites and establish a policy of not wasting any time clicking on advertisements.

As a last resort, when the student is unable to find information as described above, have them try student safe search engines. Caution students that they will get a lot of sites that are trying to sell things or have no useful information, so they should read descriptions and scrim through the lists of sites looking for ones that look most promising. The links from these search engines are not reviewed for educational content, but they are supposed to be kid-safe.

Four Steps to Locating Information on the Internet

Step One:

Define and refine the research question

Narrow the topic to several specific questions

Keep refining research questions. It is easy to get off on a side track and waste time on topics that are related, but don't really address the question that you are researching

Graphic organizers and outlines are useful

Develop a list of key words for your research questions

Step Two

Locate Sources:

Utilize Multiple sources - Don't forget print!!

Going on the Internet:
Look first for good sources, don't just start taking notes from the first thing that you find.

Step Three

Check the source of the information that you find:
Always confirm information found on this page with another source on or off the Internet.

Step Four

Look at Content
Write down the Web address so you can credit the source information in your work.

Tips and Tricks:

1. For web sites that contain a large amount of text, use the find in text command of the browser to locate key words and then read that section of the text to find what you are looking for.

2. Use simple key words for searching educational Directories.

3. Always use more than one search engine or directory.

4. Use search tricks such as quote marks for phrases, * after root words, +, -, AND, OR and NOT, when using search engines that recognize these.

5. Cut and Paste Web Addresses into word processor to save for your bibliography. Type the name of the site and the date you viewed the site.

Consider Web Quests as an Alternative

Web Quests are great resources if you can find one that closely matches your topic.

Usually the Web Quests present students with good research questions and then provide appropriate Internet links to answer those questions.

Check Web Quests at:

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Linda J. Burkhart
Updated:  February, 2001