I decided to use the InfoTrac Student Edition and the Kids Infobits as I was unable to find the InfoTrac Junior Edition. Both are appropriate for my advanced students. Kids Infobits is at a lower reading level and will be easier for them to read in English without having to look up so much additional vocabulary. This version provides more basic information on a topic but still has plenty of facts and depth. The Student Edition goes way more in depth with details which appeal to those students who want to and are ready to probe deeply. None of this material would be appropriate for my beginning and intermediate students.
Example application (database students could use for a current topic)
Topic: Native American Culture
Database: Infotrac Student Edition: Gale Virtual Reference Library for high school students
My advanced students have been researching Native American Culture. Their main concern has been the treatment of Native Americans past and present. I found several resources that I could point them to. The Basic Search, however, was very basic (not intuitive like Google) so I would recommend the Advanced Search. This database has a wealth of current magazine articles as well as summaries of relevant books. It is appropriate for advanced ESL students who already know how to do research in their first language and who want to delve deep into a subject. Several tools make it very usable, especially for ESL including audio, translation feature, downloadable PDF.
The content looks very appropriate as shown in the examples below. All sources are well-cited for credibility.
Example for periodical: US Catholic – Sacred Faces
Example for book review: 100+ Native American Women Who Changed the World
Other Mel Evaluation– I looked at most of the databases. There is so much to explore and I seriously had to resist the temptation to fall into that deep hole! I chose two to comment on here.
Bookflix: I found a treasure within Bookflix. On the same topic that is currently of high interest to my students, under Celebrations > Thanksgiving I found a gem.
Bookflix audio feature is excellent. It’s a real person so the intonation is natural and easy to understand. The video, based on the book Giving Thanks A Native American Good Morning Message is narrated by the author. The graphics are beautiful and convey the spirit of Native American culture and spirituality, which is what my students want to know about. The narrative and vocabulary, will be challenging for the low level readers, perfect for the middle level readers and easy for the high level readers, but through heavy pre-loading, including having copies of the print book, it will be an excellent and rich source of contextual vocabulary development for all levels.
Britannica School Learning Zone – I liked some of the content for my low level readers but I found some essential features either not at all obvious or missing. The audio for some of the activities was a human voice synchronized with the text. in other activities there was a button you could click to hear the audio. However, in other activities that could have been useful for my beginners I couldn’t see any audio pause button or any way to stop and review the current slide or page. Navigation was also confusing and sometimes there was double audio, as if the narrator (a dog character) was still talking after I had selected an activity. Other times, I selected an activity and the previous activity continued to play.
Here is an example of an activity that I liked and could use: Each page built on the previous page with lots of repetition and very little vocabulary.
2. Check out one of the resources or databases in MeL that your students might use in your classroom to do their class work. For example, for their Country reports they might use Culture Grams and if they are working on Michigan History they might use Mel Michigana or Michigana (Sabin Collection): Sources in U.S. History Online. Make a list of the databases your students would find helpful and list them as well as their web address on your Face of Your Classroom site.
3. HOAX SITES:
HOAX SITE 1: http://www.weathergraphics.com/tim/fisher/
The site name implies that there will be graphics about weather, which would be excellent for my students. However, the site is actually full of technical information about weather equipment and software, most of which is outdated. I checked out some of the books listed for sale. Some of them are also currently available on Amazon which makes me think the site is mostly legitimate. However, the page for the link provided in our Fake and Hoax list is really about a fake airplane supposedly created by Fisher Price for Russia.
|CREDIBILITY : Who is the author? What are his or her credentials? The author is Tim Vasquez, who is a weatherman and has written books that are listed on his site and on Amazon. The rest of the website appears to be legit, but this page is a spoof about a toy airplane which Russia supposedly commissioned Fisher-Price to make:
The Soviet requirement
In 1951, Stalin had reiterated his call for “one of the toughest engineering problems facing our nation” — a plane that could carry a dad, a mom, their family, and the dog to a playground in Irkutsk.
“Fisher-Price began construction in 1975, naming the model FP-72. The first customer was Braniff Airways. It was a business airline par excellence, offering frequent service in medium-size 727s. Adding the Fisher-Price aircraft meant businesspeople could easily get the connections they wanted. Braniff’s chairman and CEO, Harding Lawrence, insisted that the Fisher-Price plane would bring easy connections to Sesame Street, and connect Dallas to all of Texas’ barnyards and barbecues. Braniff put in an order for 26 aircraft with 38 on reserve. “
|ACCURACY: Can facts, statistics, or other information be verified through other sources? Based on your knowledge, does the information seem accurate? NO. All other sources say that it was a toy airplane.|
|RELIABILITY: Does the source present a particular view or bias? No, it’s just silliness.|
|RELEVANCE: Does this information directly support my hypothesis/thesis or help to answer my question? NO – we were looking for graphics about weather.|
|DATE: When was this information created? When was it revised? Are these dates meaningful in terms of the subject matter? @2004. NO, the dates are totally irrelevant since this is a spoof page.|
|SOURCES BEHIND THE TEXT: Did the author use reliable, credible sources? No.|
|SCOPE: Does this source address my hypothesis/thesis/question in a comprehensive or peripheral way? Is it a scholarly or popular treatment? NO|
HOAX SITE 2: http://www.thedogisland.com
|CREDIBILITY : Authors: Xiao Min and Han Fei, no particular credentials
The site is not credible by the authors’ disclaimer:
This site was made in jest, for fun for love of dogs and for love of life. You are to take NO actions, make NO decisions based on the content of this website. In other words, we are not responsible for ANYTHING you do. If I could make this any clearer to you, I would. You can’t blame us for ANYTHING. You can’t be mad at us for ANYTHING. The only point for you on this website is to enjoy yourself. And if you don’t enjoy yourself, you absolutely canNOT blame us for this lack of enjoyment – it is completely your fault. We are selling nothing, we want nothing from you, not your personal information, not your credit card, not your dog, not your money… NOTHING. We have asked you for nothing, we will continue to ask you for nothing, so please, make sure to NOT GIVE IT TO US, as we will not accept it. To all friendly, kind, loving people, who don’t find a need to blame other people for any and everything, thank you for your time, sorry if you read this and felt unloved – WE LOVE YOU !!! :::))))
All other CAARRDZ criteria are negative based on this disclaimer.
For my topic I looked up issues related to ESL adult literacy. Although I am used to citing sources from my college days, this online resource is a BIG time saver. My students are currently researching topics about Native Americans. Their current goal is just to get a handle on reading and understanding the English, so I have not shared the online citation feature with them. However, all the students working on this project are college graduates in their L1 and understand the importance of citing. When they are ready I will show them how they can save time when doing their citations.