Saturday, June 28, 2014

Citing Your Resources Presentation

Are you looking for a presentation on "Citing Your Resources" that your students can review as they are working on a report, research paper or project?  After many requests from teachers, librarians, and library coordinators, we have put together a presentation in three different formats (PDF, pptx, and mov) that covers the topics:
  • Why Cite Resources
  • What is Plagiarism?
  • Paraphrasing
  • Using Quotations
  • Parenthetical Citations
  • Using Recommended Online Citation Creators
  • How to Prepare a Works Cited page

Feel free to post the presentation on your web page or on your computers, or link to it from your web page. If you have any questions or have recommendations to improve it, contact the author, Carole Bell (

Thursday, June 19, 2014

How To Tell Good Web Sites from the Bad?

It's a Jungle Out There!

 It's a Jungle Out There!
How do students distinguish good web sites from bad ones?  If students are using a subscription database (with passwords), they know that the information is reliable.  But what if they want to quickly use a web site to gather additional information?  How can they tell if the web site is reliable?

Attached to this post is a PowerPoint presentation (saved in PDF) called "It's a Jungle Out There!"--How to tell good web sites from bad web sites.  There are eight critical skills that students can use to distinguish the good from the bad.  They should be able to determine all the attributes below by just browsing through the web site.

1) Who sponsors the web site?
2) Who wrote the material on the site?
3) How much information is provided?
4) Is the information balanced?
5) Is is well written?
6) When was it last updated?
7) Does it list reliable sources?
8) Is the site easy to use? 

Feel free to use this PowerPoint with your students.  You are welcome to link to it from your own web page.

Friday, June 13, 2014

What to do this summer?

What to do this summer?
Finally, we have some free time this summer just for us!  What to do?   Of course, it's great to catch up on the latest television shows that we have on DVR, and read all those books we have saved for leisure time.  Now what?  

I just cruised through the digital resources available for free from my local public library.  You just have to have a library card to access the resources.  I was shocked and really happy to find all sorts of amazing new resources available.  Here are a few of my favorites:

MANGO--This is a free online language learning program.  There are 63 languages available, but the most popular are Spanish, French, English, Chinese, Italian, and German.  I used my library card number just to browse, but got really excited about reviewing my French, so I created a login and password and started on a course.  You can actually take a quiz that will determine your level of proficiency and it will put you at the correct level.  There are lessons as well as interesting conversations available.  Native speakers pronounce the words and phrases and the text is there as you are learning new words and phrases.  What a great way to learn a bit of a foreign language before a trip!  Another really positive aspect of this FREE program is that recent immigrants can work on their English skills with the English program. (You might want to recommend this site to your ESL students or parents.)

AUDIO BOOK CLOUD--Free online audiobooks are available here.  The only requirement is a computer or device connected to the Internet.  Numerous people can listen to the same audiobook simultaneously.  You can create a list of "Favorites" and access your audiobooks from a computer anywhere in the world.  (My only concern about this program is that I don't always have Internet access and would like to be able to download the audiobooks and read offline as well.)  However, it is still a great free service.

ZINIO--Zinio says that it is "the world's largest digital newsstand."  I was not familiar with this service until today.  You can browse your library's collection of popular titles, there is no limit to the number of magazines you can download, and they can be kept in your account as long as you wish.  On my local library's site, there are about sixty (60) magazines available for free, including titles such as Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Cosmopolitan, Discover, Country Living, National Geographic Traveler, and many, many more.  I have already created a login and password and plan to subscribe to several of my favorites!  

I hope you try out one of these resources.  Let me hear from you by posting a comments below!  Have a great summer!

Monday, June 9, 2014

 Google vs. Boolean Search Operators 
Being a former librarian, I decided to write a post about Boolean searching.  However as I researched the topic, I realized that exact Boolean searching is not used in most online search engines.  Therefore, I have summarized both Google Search Operators and Boolean Search Operators below. Boolean Search Operators will be used to search subscription databases at many libraries.

Google has advanced search tools for text and for images that can be filled in to give great results. These can be found as follows:

If students are going to use a custom Google search engine such as or why not use Google's advanced search tools?   There are many simple search operators that can be used in a Google Search that will give excellent results as well.

Search Operators for Google Search

1) To search for an exact word or phrase
Use quotation marks to search for an exact word or a set of words.  This works well if you are looking for a line from a book or poem, song lyrics, and if you are looking for an exact word or phrase.  You no longer have to use AND to put two words together in your search.
"Call me Ishmael"
"if I had a hammer"
"Abraham Lincoln"

2) To Exclude a Word
To exclude a word, use a minus or dash sign before the keyword in your search, such as if are looking for a cougar and you don’t want to include a car brand.  If you want to exclude a web site in the results, just type the keyword and follow it with the minus sign as follows:
cougar -car
cheetah speed -car

3) To Search Within a Site
If you want to search within a site or domain, just type the keyword followed by a space and the site name or the ending of the site, as follows:

4) To Search for Linked Pages
If you want to search for pages that link to a URL, just type in link: and the name of the URL.

5) To Search for Related URLs
To search  for pages that are similar to a URL, just type in related: and the name of a URL that you want to compare.
6) To Use a Wildcard
If you want to fill in the blank for a quotation or a phrase you are looking for, use an asterisk (*). Be sure to enclose the phrase in quotation marks. This is sometimes called a “wildcard.”
“Roses are * Violets are *”

7) To Use OR
To search for either word in a keyword search, use OR in all capital letters.
teenager OR adolescent
Boolean Searching

Boolean Searching is a useful way of entering search terms into a database to improve the quality of the results.  It is based on a method of logic developed by George Boole, a 19th century English mathematician. Because most databases  support Boolean searches, it allows you to more effectively select your search terms and thereby limit your results to obtain quality information.

Boolean operators include the following:


“AND” helps you to specify what you are searching for.  If you were searching for the word “cougar” and you only wanted results that includes animals, not the “new” connotation for the word, you could type the following into a search box.

cougar AND animal

“NOT” helps you to limit your search.  If you were searching for a “jaguar”, you might want to exclude automobiles from your search to limit the results.

jaguar NOT automobile

“OR” helps you utilize several terms for the same keyword search.  If you are searching for articles on teenagers, you might specify “teenagers” OR “adolescents” to improve your search results.

teenagers OR adolescents

If the search terms that you are looking for are usually adjacent to each other, try putting all the terms in quotation marks.  If you entered the words Abraham Lincoln in a search box, you would get a number of Abrahams and Lincolns, though not exclusively Abraham Lincoln.  Here is how to enter the adjacent search words:

“Abraham Lincoln”

If you want to group search terms for more complex searches, use parentheses, as follows:

fruit AND (orange OR grapefruit)
(teenagers OR adolescents) AND facebook

Resources for Boolean Searching

Colorado State University has a tutorial on using AND, OR, and NOT in Boolean Searching.

A project of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia

Boolean Searching Information from Penn State University

Library of Congress Online Catalog Help Page


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Free Educational Online Videos--How Do I Find Them?

Free Educational Online Videos--How Do I Find Them?

If you "Google" a keyword such a "hurricanes" or "cell division," and click on the label "Videos," in the Google results, you are going to find a number of videos on YouTube, but what if your school district blocks YouTube, or what if you want to use other resources such as WatchKnowLearn or Khan Academy, among others?

TeacherTopia has a fantastic search engine set up just for this reason.  It will locate free educational online videos and it does not include YouTube in its results.  You can use the search engine that is exclusively for free educational videos for the classroom by going to

It's always best to enclose your keywords in quotation marks to ensure that the Google Search Engine in TeacherTopia checks for all the words that you have included.  Use OR if you want to include two or three similar keywords.   Examples include "climate change OR global warming" and "mitosis OR cell division."

Another technique is just to browse through the eighteen resources on the TeacherTopia Video page. Here are a few of my favorite resources from the eighteen listed.

Looking for audio or video speeches and campaign commercials from past Presidential elections?  Try The Living Room Candidate.  

Do you want to learn a new language or show language learning videos to your Spanish students?  Go to Annenberg Learner.  It has videos in almost every subject you can imagine.

Do you need to work on your Algebra skills or any other subject such as math, science, arts and humanities and more?  Khan Academy is the place for you. This amazing resource is free, but you will have to log in with a Facebook account or create a free login for Khan Academy.

Let us know what you think about the TeacherTopia Video Resources and search engine.  We would love to see your comments below.