Last fall, we re-focused our content and outreach efforts on schools. Our mission became "to provide free content and tools that help educators teach students how to use the Web effectively." But we soon realized that our content is so vast that it was hard for some busy educators to figure out how to use it in the classroom.
So our goal entering 2010 was to make our content easier for educators to use. Organizationally, we now offer a landing page showcasing our content for school librarians and one featuring our best content for social studies. The feedback we're getting from educators has morphed from merely enthusiastic to rave reviews.
But what's more accessible than a list? Here is a list of the "eight ways a week" that Dulcinea Media helps educators teach students how to use the Web effectively:
I recently explained why SweetSearch is the best search engine for students. Most students struggle to use Google and Bing effectively because they contain so many links that lack academic or journalistic authority. SweetSearch searches only Web sites that have been evaluated by our research experts. This makes it great for teachers as well. You know those lists you've been bookmarking for years? SweetSearch is a searchable repository of all of them. For younger learners, we recently introduced a beta version of SweetSearch4Me, which is the only search engine that prominently ranks high quality Websites created for elementary school students, and mixes them with accessible primary source sites.
And yes, we offer a widget for SweetSearch, so you can embed it on your school Web site.2. Point your students to SweetSearch Biographies and discover some inspiring people.
As I discussed in a recent blog post explaining why we created SweetSearch Biographies, a complaint we hear often from educators is that students write the same handful of biographies every year, when there are thousands of inspiring people that students should write about. And if they use our database of more than 1,000 biographies, filterable by profession, gender and race/national origin, you'll suddenly find yourself reading well-sourced biographies of remarkable people that you may not have heard of before.
3. Let us come to you—and to your students.
We know your hectic schedule doesn't have a slot that says "visit findingDulcinea" each day. So we come to you! Our free e-mail newsletter arrives at your inbox with an overview of On This Day and our Happy Birthday biography feature, as well as links to our best education articles. Each Wednesday, we publish inspiring profiles of Educators That Rock!, as well as Quiztory, a quiz about the week’s features, which makes for an interesting homework or extra credit assignment.
Many teachers ask their students to sign up for our newsletter as well. Of course, many students don't use e-mail any more, because they virtually live on Facebook. Ask your students to become a fan of findingDulcinea on Facebook, and we'll occasionally interrupt their "urgent" status updates with some inspiring and educational content.
4. Have your students take Ten Steps to Better Web Research.
We've reviewed dozens of studies of students' Internet research skills, and then surveyed 300 high school and middle school students ourselves. The emphatic conclusion? Students need a lot of help in finding, evaluating and using information they need on the Internet. Over the past three years, we have written dozens of Web guides, articles and blog posts about particular aspects of effective Web research. Recently, we consolidated the best of all of it into a single document that breaks the process of Web research into these three phases and ten individual steps. We believe it is the best Web research tutorial you'll find anywhere.
We've also reviewed dozens of other research studies about students' Internet research habits, and other models for improving research skills. We've aggregated them all, including results of our survey, into this slideshow presentation.5. Let Beyond the Headlines serve as a model for your students to follow.
All students need role models, right? Each day we find headline articles about the topics you study in class. We find additional background or reference information on the topic, related topics and opposing points of view. We integrate all this information into a cohesive, comprehensive look at the topic, and link to our sources, which we align in a single box. Exactly what you'd like to see your students do, right? Let us show them how.
6. Visit our Web Guides for a guided tour of the best Web sites about your subject.
Before assigning a research project, search for credible resources your students can use. Our 700+ Web guides are a collection of such resources. For example, our Web Guide to U.S. History features useful sites that cover the time of Native Americans to the early settlers to the 1970s, including primary sources.
7. View our presentation on how to build your own personal learning network.
For all the great content we've created, we know you should learn directly from fellow teachers as well. We've created a presentation that focuses on five Web 2.0 tools that are free, easy to learn and use, and that will help you build a personal learning network of fellow educators.
8. Guide your Spanish-speaking ESL students across our bridge.
Due to the fact that native Spanish-speaking students may have trouble finding resources on the Web, we created EncontrandoDulcinea, a "Bridge for Spanish Speakers." Now Spanish-speaking students and their parents can read a Spanish language narrative guide to the best sites in English and Spanish. Students that are learning English or Spanish can also read a number of our news and features on both sites, including our On This Day feature, which is available in Spanish as Hoy en la Historia.Help us help you. E-mail us at [email protected] or direct message us on Twitter @findingDulcinea and @findingEdu and let us know what we can do better. We’d love to hear from you.