One of the biggest challenge of my position as leader in the use of ICT in the classroom is reaching back and offering a helping hand to those who are not as confident and sure in the use of tools like laptops and IWBs in their classroom. It is easier to share with those in the near vicinity, the ones who are prepared to join the staff Ning or plan on a wiki, leaving others to languish. Even though Mark Treadwell's message of not leaving kids to wander through the internet wilderness and teachers actively searching and bundling the relevant resources for their students to use is accepted as school practice, we have students who are left to Google for themselves because their teacher trusts in their digital native skills. So, this week on the advice of my principal, I crafted this tactful email out to staff in an effort to get everyone back on the same page.
I don't know about you but I am amazed at the power of Google as a tool for searching the internet. It takes very little effort to get a result BUT does take some skills in search terms and background knowledge to get meaningful results. So, when we set our students a web based task, we have to take on board the research that Mark Treadwell cited for us earlier in the year. We need to be guiding our students to appropriate content and resources. I've attached a small poster that might help guide your thinking.
If you think of a metaphor that your class is a tour bus heading into the unexplored world of cyberspace, who should be at the wheel? Who should be determining the destination and the relevant sights (sites!!) along the way? Should the kids really be at the wheel?
So, consider the use of Expert hotlists - here's one from a Teacher-Librarian <http://teachers.ash.org.au/suel/default.htm> and another <http://www.teachers.ash.org.au/jmresources/>. See Rosie (our teacher-librarian) as well, or search the edna teacher resource database <http://www.edna.edu.au/edna/go/resources> .
Don't forget delicious.com both for finding resources, and bundling your sites for student use together with tags.
Use your own Google skills to locate sites and resources for the class - use Advanced Search, become familiar with a site like <http://www.googleguide.com/> so that you become more efficient in your own Google use.
If you absolutely must have students doing their own searching, consider one designed for students. I have four that I have personally used tagged here - <http://delicious.com/wegner/studentsearching> - KidsClick, Ask Kids, Quintura and for upper primary kids, Boolify.
We must also consider copyright issues so grabbing images from a Google image search is a no-no, because students invariably save the low grade thumbnail image (looks terrible when enlarged) or grab the first thing they see. With our new filtering system, teachers can access the Flickr Creative Commons section and save images that are of a superior quality, with less restrictive licensing than copyright images on the web.<http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/>
Kids don't develop effective information literacy skills on their own - it is up to us to ensure that we follow good practice in this area.
Sorry, this was such a long email - it has taken on a life of its own.
Sometimes, the best way to reach folks is by using old fashioned tools like email.