Monday, September 6, 2010

Searching Made Easy

In my experience with searches there isn’t much that I can’t find using Google. If something has been put in on the web Google can find it with the right refinements to the search criteria. So for me Google has almost always been my first and last stop. For graduate school, obviously I have had to use the library’s subscription resources but other than that I use Google for everything. In their advanced search I can limit my searches to specific file types. I use this feature within Google to find pre-made instructional Power Points. Teachers can then use these as a starting point and refine as necessary.

I manage my school’s website with input from teachers and especially the media specialist. Together we have made a wealth of supplemental information available to the students. The media center’s management software is run by Follett is online. Students in our district can access the database of available materials within their immediate media center and they can also browse the resources of any other school in the district. We have also provided links to the Public Library Coop so that students can browse the materials in their local library and the libraries in the county. Through Sunlink, students have the ability to browse other libraries in the state and use interlibrary loan. In conjunction with the selection of media we use Accelerated Reader and the link for using the home test database is also posted for parents and students.

For research purposes we have posted links to all of our districts subscription services. We provide the student’s access to InfoTrack, World Book, Searchasaurus, and Ebscohost. Students also have a link to the Florida Library Association’s “Ask A Librarian”. A new service being offered is NetTrekker. NetTrekker is a safe search engine for our younger students who don’t necessarily have to browse through an abyss of scholarly articles to find information about Christopher Columbus, Sacajawea and Ohio’s major industries.

Teachers have links as well. For our reading teachers we have links to TumbleBooks, a website where students can have popular stories read to them. Teachingbooks is a wealth of instructional books for any subject. They have over 27,000 titles.
The district website has links to many of these sources plus many others.

The district site provides a link to Compass Odyssey, an online learning management software for individualized instruction. Teachers can assign individualized homework to their students and students can complete these computer based lessons in school or at home on their own time. Students also have access to their blackboard classes through the district website. The district website provides links and resources for students with special needs. My favorite resource is Natural Reader. Natural Reader will read any digital text from a website or a word processing document. Any text that can by copied and pasted into natural reader will be read. I like to use it to listen to scholarly articles or the sports page. The digitized voice is free but the upgrade to human sounding voice costs money.

The district website also houses our district curriculum maps. These maps have the standard, LFS(Learning Focused Strategy), links to enrichment activities, corresponding videos and graphic organizers. The maps are the life blood for our teachers. They guide our instruction and because of our student mobility rate they attempt to keep all schools on the same instructional page to prevent as many disruptions in student learning as possible.

FLDOE website has links tailored specifically to federal and state opportunities. There are links to bullying, drug and gang awareness. The site also explains parent/guardian rights as well as state/federal funded initiatives to promote learning, equity and advancement for under-represented populations.

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