Farm'ers Market

childrenThe Best of the Web

Are your students choosing the best the web has to offer or are they simply "googling, copying, and reporting"?

Educators talk a lot about using "websites," but what does this mean? The word simply describes a delivery system for information like a book or a television program. It's like talking about the farm truck when we are really interested in the quality of the fruits and vegetables at the market. Start by exploring the best the web has to offer. Then, seek out other materials to supplement what you find.

Locate Quality Starting Points

JourneyInstead of searching for materials to match specific units, you’ll have more luck if you keep your mind open to the possibilities. Browse resources and collections. How could these lesson resources and primary source collections be used at your grade level and subject area? Seek out alternative ways to address standards.

Look for the classics. The kids would probably choose Captain Underpants over Shakespeare, but how about a compromise? Choose engaging resources from credible sources! For instance, students might choose to read Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne in graphic novel format from Stone Arch Books. Can you find good Internet resources that are visually attractive to motivate young people?

When you go to the library, it's easy to separate the fiction books from the nonfiction and reference books. When you're online, it's much more difficult to locate the particular type of information you need. Use the following resources to get you started locating quality web-based content.

  1. Government Resources:,
  2. Government Agencies: NOAA, NASA, CDC, USGS, NIH, NPS, EPA
  3. Public Resources: PBS, PBSKids, BBC, CBC, NPR
  4. Organizations: NWF enature, All About Birds
  5. Libraries: Teacher Tap
  6. Museums: Teacher Tap
  7. Interactives - Flash Projects
  8. Pathfinders - 42explore, Emints - alphabetically, by grade level, Pathfinder Links
  9. Directories - ALA 800, Kathy Schrock's Guide, Homework Center from Multnomah County Library, Kid's Click, Internet Public Library, Content Coliseum
  10. By Teachers for Teachers - Web English Teacher
  11. By Kids for Kids - ThinkQuest
  12. Content Areas - Teacher Tap

Explore the dozen starting points above.
In what situations would these starting points be useful? Where do they lead? When are starters ineffective?

Select a Variety of Resources

As you explore online materials, choose a variety of resources. Select varied channels of communication such as text, graphics, audio, video, photographs, and animations. Seek out primary source materials including original documents, speeches, posters, interviews, and other authentic materials. Meet individual needs by looking a varied reading levels and presentation styles. Also locate materials that will support standards across the curriculum including science, social studies, communication skills, math, and others.

Tops and Bottomsup down aroundHow Groundhog's Garden Grewvictory gardenUno's Garden

Print Resources

Categories of Web Resources


History of Victory Gardens

History of Gardens

Health and Science of Gardening


General Gardening

Websites for Kids

Brainstorm all the types of information and categories of information that might be useful for teaching and learning. Create a chart of types of content (online books, lists and directories, virtual exhibit, dictionary, encyclopedia, primary sources, news, biographies, guides, databases, advice and opinions, data (statistics, tables, observations, experiments), chronologies, how-tos, periodicals, news, forms, contact information, reports, trivia), bibliography.


Use Primary Source Materials

dragonwingsthe earth dragon awakescrack in the edge of the world

Web Resources

Analyzing Primary Sources

Other Primary Source Document Lesson Ideas

Explore primary source materials. Select a topic and consider the primary source materials that might be used as part of a springboard activity.

wsInfuse Information Skills

For students to make effective use of online resources, they need information and communication skills. Explore some of the following skill areas:

What skills do students need to successfully use Internet resources? Select one of the areas above to explore in-depth. Design an activity that requires students to practice this skill within the context of a very specific content-area standard or learning outcome. For example, you might select 3 online articles for student to read, evaluate, and compare.

Design High-Level Assignments - Assumption, Evidence, and Conclusion

Left for DeadCollecting evidence can take years. The book Left for Dead by Pete Nelson is a great example of the patience it takes in a quest for truth and justice. Explore the USS Indianapolis and USS Indianapolis Museum website for more information.

As you select resources, think about how students will use the information. Design inquiry-based activities that engage students in asking questions, making assumptions, identifying evidence, making inferences, and drawing conclusions. Consider the following questions:

Design a project that asks students to make assumptions, collect evidence, and draw conclusions. Don't start with a traditional topic. Instead, look for starters such as articles, historical fiction, and movies.

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