“Librarian: The Original Search Engine.” Our school Library/Media Specialist, Mrs. Ford, shared this phrase with my high school students during her visit to our class today. She stopped by to offer research assistance for our Jim Thorpe student-created virtual field trip (VFT) projects. As a technology teacher, I valued her expertise and advice in helping better prepare my students for well-focused biographical research. I encourage all technology teachers to share your “tech” projects with your resident library media specialist. As Mrs. Ford reminded us today, “View the Librarian as your ally. We are on your team.”
Mrs. Ford recommended a tiered approach to student research, “Go Local – Go Regional – Go Big!” She advised the students to start local with the questions, “What’s in my house? At school? In the library” about Jim Thorpe.
http://lionslibrary.com is our school library website. Mrs. Ford started the local search with “Alexandria.”
A simple search for “Jim Thorpe” resulted in 4 titles available from the Howe Public Schools’ library.
For the next step, “go regional”, Mrs. Ford shared the search for “Jim Thorpe” in the Southeastern Public Library database. The SEPLSO consists of 15 public libraries in our region. The broad catalog search resulted in 30 titles. But the great feature of the SEPLSO is the inter-library loan. A requested book can be mailed to a local library to make accessibility much easier for the student.
The student created virtual field trip projects place my students in the “expert” role. They become the teacher. The tools Mrs. Ford shared allow my students to “leave no stone unturned” in the life of Jim Thorpe.
The regional jumping off point of Mrs. Ford’s research suggestions took us to EBSCO Host – Digital Prairie. According to the Lion’s Library website,
Digital Prairie is a production of the Oklahoma Library Technology Network, and is funded with state and federal funds by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. Federal funds are provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
EBSCO Host requires a user ID and password. The databases shared are all free and provide information that is reviewed, relevant, accurate and legitimate.
The last stop on the research journey is “go global.” Mrs. Ford discussed her favorite internet search engine – Google. She reinforced to not use wikipedia as the student’s major source, but to look closely at the “notes” on the bottom of the entries to find additional source information on the topic.
For broad topic research, Mrs. Ford suggested starting with EBSCO. Once the teams are more focused on their topic, the internet would be the recommended search tool. She also shared the boolean search operators “and, or, not.” I found this link for “boolean searching on the internet.” This article explains the boolean functions in simple terms.
The simple, yet powerful strategies for research shared by our Librarian today will serve as a springboard to launch the Jim Thorpe VFT project. Remember your school Librarian, make them a member of your classroom team.