Without adequate library resources, the Internet is often a kid’s only avenue for research. Yet even teachers get frustrated trying to figure out what sites are useful and what are simply fronts for extremist groups (a certain website about Martin Luther King comes to mind).
In this quarter’s edition of Social Studies and the Young Learner, published by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), Rindi Baildon shares how her fourth class at the American School in Singapore developed a rubric to evaluate sources. According to Baildon, it’s important for students to develop a healthy skill at determining useful websites, as it also develops their skills at critical thinking and analysis.
Using a series of exercises through an interdisciplinary research unit, Baildon gets the students to question accuracy, trustworthiness and usefulness in a multitude of sources. In that way, they can look at any online resource through a critical eye, which in results in more authentic, meaningful research.
The result of these exercises is a Research Resource Guide that summarizes how students should view online sources. They are a series of questions each student must ask when examining a website. They are scaffolded based on accuracy, readability (since a doctoral dissertation doesn’t due a fourth grader any good) and usefulness.
Below is the resource guide developed by Baildon’s class. Please let me know how you use it in your classroom.
Research Resource Guide for Evaluating Online Sources
• Can I understand the information on my own, or with a little help?
• Is this resource “kid friendly”?
• Is this a “just right” resource for me?
• Does this resource list the name of its author and publisher?
• Do I recognize the author or publisher?
• Is the publisher one person, or is it an organization (like a museum, university, or government agency?)
• Is the information current? (Is there a date showing when it was written or posted?)
• Can I find other sources with the same information?
• Does the resource have what I am looking for?
• Does it follow my research plan?
• Do I need it?
~ Baildon, Mark & Baildon, Rindi. “Evaluating Online Sources: Helping Students Determine Trustworthiness, Readability, and Usefulness.” Social Studies and the Young Learner, March/April 2012: pp. 11-14.