Web literacy: Where the Common Core meets common sense


Site: will allow a researcher to narrow results to a specific domain or extension. Knowing that, we can begin with the following two separate queries.

Search One: ear mouse vacanti site:umass.edu

Search Two: ear mouse vacanti site:mit.edu

(Please note: you cannot use the Site command twice in the design of one search.)

The use of site: will limit results to one of these universities. Through continued investigation, we find even more connections to Harvard and Brown University. With enough digging, we learn that there were actually two doctors named Vacanti. They were brothers. We also learn much more about the research being done by these brothers in growing tissue around biodegradable molds.

The essential lessons here that link to the Common Core (and common sense) include:

  • To understand the difference between primary and secondary sources.
  • To understand not to automatically trust so-called reliable sources such as the BBC.
  • To learn focused research with the tool that many students use every day, Google. To begin doing so, spend some time investigating Google’s advanced search tool.

We are not surprised by the Yale example that we referenced at the beginning of this article. Our experience in working with schools around the world has taught us that too many educators and students have a “magic lantern” approach to research on the web.

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We believe there should be an urgency to teach students to think when they use the internet. This takes ongoing practice in many different research situations. To ensure that our students learn the grammar and strategies of the web, we believe it’s essential for every teacher to develop lessons that challenge students to learn how to verify sources.

Through our resources, you can find a list of sites that will be useful in developing these types of lessons, as well as a framework that students can be taught. It is not enough to learn how to do this in one class, or only in the library. It must be infused throughout the curriculum. We welcome the Common Core standards that will require this kind of skill set. We also welcome your ideas and strategies for teaching web literacy and critical thinking on the web.

Alan November is the founder and Brian Mull is the director of innovation at November Learning. They invite your questions through their website at http://www.novemberlearning.com.

Join Alan, Brian, and other educators from around the world at the Building Learning Communities conference (BLC12) in Boston this July, where Eli Pariser, author of The Filter Bubble, will be one of the keynote speakers. Use the discount key eSchoolMedia12 to get $100 off the cost of registration; go to http://blcconference.com.

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at submissions@eschoolmedia.com.

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