Today’s Contributor: Hi, I am Carly Kettler! I am the librarian at Bryker Woods Elementary. Books are a big part of my job, but I also love to talk about digital resources, safety, and citizenship with students too.
These days, students have access to what feels like an infinite amount of information. Asking them to not only find sources of information to conduct their research, but to also sort, verify, and then process that information is no small task.
Each spring I conduct yearly research projects with my 4th and 5th grade students. We discuss credibility, its meaning, and how it applies to both print and digital resources. The end goal is to evaluate digital resources and answer the essential question “how do you know a source of information is credible?”. They are at an age where they are ready to leave the credible comforts of MackinVia’s encyclopedias and critically explore what a popular search engine such as Google has to offer.
Building Background Information: Before we dive into digital resources a few lessons are spent evaluating nonfiction texts from our library collection. Classes start to build lists of criteria that make a nonfiction text credible. Ideas include looking to see who the author is, who published the book, what the copyright date is, and are the images realistic and well done. Some books I have found work well for this are A Rock is Lively by Dianna Hutts Aston and How to Find a Fox by Kate Gardner.
Digital Resource Lesson: After working with print resources we begin to discuss how the same criteria could apply to websites. Criteria is shifted to include things such as, what the content includes on the site, when it was updated, who the creator is, can they be contacted, etc. Working together we come up with a physical checklist and then I turn it into a formal template. Using pre-selected websites students explore and use their checklist to verify whether or not the sites are credible. We come together to discuss our findings.
This lesson does stretch out over many weeks since I only see classes once a week for 45 minutes, but I feel it is such an important topic. The students come up with amazing ideas and discussion starters, they also really love to explore the non credible sites. Making students feel as if they can respectfully question resources empowers them to take charge of their own learning, and helps teachers know their students can start to navigate the web independently and safely.
Some fun sites to use with kids that are “non-credible”: