The Web contains millions of primary source documents, such as letters, diaries, photographs and videos, and contemporary news accounts. It also contains innumerable reflective essays written by experts who are much more conversant with the topic than a general writer for a textbook publisher.
But few educators have the time to sorting through literally billions of Web sites to find the rare gems that lend students a greater understanding of a subject. Traditional search engines aren't helpful; they sort by relevance, not by credibility, and often can't filter finely enough to help you find what you're looking for.
What you need is expert human curators to highlight the material worth your consideration.
Click here to read reviews of our work by well-known educators and journals.
Our landing page for Social Studies reflects the effort of two dozen full-time researchers and an equal number of teacher consultants who have brought order to the best social studies content available online.
Begin each day by perusing our SweetSearch2Day, which is a daily curated assortment of the best content on the Web for current events, history, language arts, science, culture and other topics. Better yet, sign-up for our newsletter, and at 6:00 a.m. NY time, we'll send you links to the most intriguing content on that day's page. For examples of the newsletter, click here and here.
Our seminal article, "101 Great Sites for Social Studies Class," points you to gems such as:
- Rag Linen, which contains copies of original newspapers from the 18th century, including accounts of the French & Indian War;
- The Mike Wallace Interview, a collection of 66 interviews from the 1950s with luminaries such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Pearl Buck and Frank Lloyd Wright.
- Harp Week, which examines presidential elections, the Civil War, Reconstruction and other events of 19th century America through the articles and cartoons of Harper’s Weekly.
To provide a practical use for the many interview sites we've uncovered, we publish "Interview of the Day," which leads you to some of the most compelling video, audio and text interviews of the 20th century. Do you teach your students about Amelia Earhart? We found three newsreel interviews with her from 1928. How about Eleanor Roosevelt? Watch the interview she gave to Mike Wallace in 1957, in which she remarked about The Cold War, "I feel quite sure that the American people, if they have knowledge and leadership, can meet any crisis just as well as they met it over and over again in the past.”
The On This Day articles that we publish each day explain an historical event, what led up to it, what happened that day, and the long-term recriminations and echoes in history. We also publish it in Spanish, as Hoy en la Historia. We hope you'll encourage your students to elevate their research and critical thinking skills in our On This Day Challenge, which offers them step-by-step instruction, prizes, and a chance to be published.
Students need role models, right? We've written thousands of headline articles; high school librarian Joyce Valenza wrote on her School Library Journal blog that our "discoveries are timely and seem to continually attack those topics my students research." 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.
When Iran violently suppressed protests last year, we wrote about the History of Iranian Revolutions. When a killer whale tragically drowned a Sea World trainer, leading to calls for its release into the wild, our article about it summarized and linked to a PBS documentary that provided a chart discussing all 133 killer whales that had ever been captured in the wild for use in shows, and an intriguing story about killer whales who cooperated with Pacific Island villagers to trap, kill and mutually share other whales. For other examples of how we help social studies teachers teach students to think for themselves about what we call the "fragile truth of history," read this blog post.
A white paper released in November 2010 by Temple University Media Education Professor Renee Hobbs, sponsored by The Knight Commission, included Beyond the Headlines in its "Portraits of Success: Powerful Voices for Kids" and wrote, "Finding Dulcinea... addresses the 'context deficit' that occurs with online searching."
Our Features section contains a wide range of articles of interest to educators. For example, we hear often that students struggle to find good material for country and state reports. So we published "Sites for Learning About Countries," which links to the best 18 sites we found, for younger and older learners, as well as "Sites for Learning About the 50 States." We also know that students often study inventors and inventions; our Innovations series discusses, and provides outstanding research resources about, the complex history behind the inventions of modern mainstays such as the bicycle, refrigerator, vacuum and autopsies.
Because our content is so vast and voluminous, we've created special collections pages. Teachers often tell us that students all want to write about the same events and people, year after year; Jackie and Rosa for African-American History Month; Eleanor, Florence, Betsy and Oprah for Women's History Month; Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa for Global Studies. SweetSearch Biographies is an indexed collection of more than 1,000 biographies, sortable by profession, gender, and race/origin. Students using this will soon be teaching you about people you've never heard of. After a librarian told us that students all write about the same events and people from the Holocaust, we created this collection of Holocaust material as the antidote.
Our thousands of articles build upon the dozens of Web Guides you'll find in the left-hand column on the social studies landing page. Nearly all were created by outstanding teachers of the subject/grade level covered. The guides are comprehensive, narrated tours of the best content on the Web for teachers, students and parents, and directly link you to the best primary sources about a subject. The guides typically track the teacher writer's syllabus.
Overlaying it all is SweetSearch, A Search Engine for Students. It only searches 35,000 credible resources that our research experts and educator consultants have approved when creating all the content discussed above. We also spend our Saturdays trolling through lists of sites recommended by social studies educators, vetting them ourselves, and adding those that pass muster. Because we know that a great resource for a high school student is not necessarily a great resource for a fourth grader, we've also introduced SweetSearch4Me, which is the only search engine that prominently features on the first results page the high quality Web sites created for elementary school students. Read this blog post to understand more about how we created SweetSearch, and its integration with Yolink, a remarkable tool that helps students quickly browse through rows of search results without opening them.
Though your students will now be using the best search engines for students, they should still learn the Ten Steps to Better Web Research. To help them, we've published this presentation on Teaching the Ten Steps, which has gotten more than 12,000 views in its first two month.
Once you've found all these great Web resources, you'll want to share them with your students, and colleagues. So we created findingEducation, a bookmarking and sharing tool that we describe in this blog post as your digital classroom. If exploited by educators to its full potential, findingEducation will become the free, paperless successor to those expensive, landfill-busting textbooks that burden your students backpacks each year.
At this year's annual conference of the National Social Studies Supervisors Association, we gave this presentation on "A Practical Approach to Integrating the Web and Technology into the Social Studies Classroom." Feedback on the presentation has been stellar, and indeed we've already been invited to present at next year's conference, as well as a half dozen state and regional conferences. This blog post has links to the many stellar examples of effective use of the Web by educators, as well as other outstanding social studies resources.
Please send me feedback, questions, suggestions, etc. on our Social Studies content and tools, to Mark.Moran@DulcineaMedia.com
Mark E. Moran
Founder & CEO