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October 1, 2000
Vol. 58
No. 2

Web Wonders / Teaching the Internet Generation

Teaching the Internet Generation

The Internet has changed the way we shop, stay informed, communicate, and socialize. And it has changed the way we educate our youth. Now, when it comes to planning lessons for students, using the Internet can dramatically diminish concerns about time, expense, and availability. We can analyze artifacts, query experts, explore cities, visualize or animate textbook theories—all without leaving the school's grounds.
Some argue that no virtual experience can substitute for the real thing. They're right, of course. But whereas resources for field trips and guest lecturers aren't always available in classroom budgets, the chance to give students an inkling of what it's like to travel to Paris or to go on an archaeological dig requires, for most educators, just a walk to the computer lab.

Classroom Tips

For 25 great ideas, check www.usoe.k12.ut.us/curr/internet/25ways/handout.htm . Laura Hunter of the Utah State Office of Education gives a concise, convincing argument for just how useful the Internet can be in the classroom. Tips like "Use the Internet to bring experts into your classroom" and "The Internet can make substitutes productive" are followed by brief explanations and two or three links to help teachers put the tips into action.
WWW4Teachers provides technology tutorials, guidance on protecting children from questionable sites, how-to's on obtaining technology and keeping it up-to-date, tips for managing classes using technology, methods for assessing students' technological knowledge, ways to ensure that learners with diverse needs benefit equally from classroom technology, and links to grant and funding opportunities. Developed by the South Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium, this site (www.4teachers.org) has also been approved by a Web-based tool called Bobby, which evaluates sites for their accessibility to people with disabilities; click the Bobby link to find out more.
The many Internet resources provided by the San Bernadino County (California) Superintendent of Schools at the Community Coalition Technology Project (www.sbcss.k12.ca.us/sbcss/services/educational/cctechnology) can help teachers in all subject areas create a technology-enhanced curriculum. Check out some of the sample lesson plans and Webquests, such as one that asks students to plan a field day for the PTA.

Content-Rich Web Sites

Millions of gigabytes of information are out there, and a great deal of information can, through sights and sounds, bring concepts to your students more vividly than any textbook.
The site American Memory from the Library of Congress (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/ammemhome.html) is a windfall. Putting much of the Library of Congress's extensive archives online, American Memory contains collections from many fields—from art to business to the sciences—and in formats from motion and sound recordings to photos and prints. Resources include Civil War maps, first-person narratives from California's early years (1849–1900), and baseball cards from 1887 to 1914.
Take your students on a trip! . . . of sorts. The Virtual Tours site (www.virtualfreesites.com/tours.html) lists almost 80 museums—some with real-world counterparts, others solely virtual—that students can tour online. Old favorites are here, like the American Museum of Natural History, but so is the Museum of Unnatural Mystery as well as the Museum of Advertising Icons, the American Red Cross Virtual Museum, and the Newseum (the Interactive Museum of News).

Assessment of Web Sites

If students are using the Internet for research and other activities, they should know that everything they see on the Web isn't always fact, even if it's presented as such. A site from the New Mexico State University Library (http://lib.nmsu.edu/instruction/eval.html ) details exactly what Web users should look for when assessing a site. It also contains a page of suggestions for teachers to use when planning Internet-based assignments.
"T is for Thinking" at the ICYouSee Guide to Critical Thinking (http://www .ithaca.edu/library/Training/hott.html), a fine guide to evaluating Web sites, with lots of links to sites that illustrate the lesson that the guide is discussing. This site is geared toward students, complete with a pop quiz and homework.

Amy Eckman has contributed to Educational Leadership.

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