The Internet is awash in false or misleading “facts” and lots of sloppy research. Where can students find accurate information online? How can we show students credible resources? Using databases filled with vetted articles, students can quickly and reliably find verified information on a vast range of topics.
This year, the California State Library began providing all of the state’s school children and staff with access to several quality databases. The new databases include the Encyclopedia Britannica, ProQuest database suite, and TeachingBooks.net. This state-wide purchase now saves BUSD approximately $15,000 a year that was spent on access to online encyclopedias and databases.
The Tech Teacher Leaders and the library staff at all the schools have been introduced to the new databases and explored some of their features. Teachers were happy to find that searches could be filtered by grade or reading level, and that students had access to advanced research tools. Keldon Clegg of Berkeley High noted, “It demystifies research and makes research paper writing feel more collegiate,” while commenting on students’ enthusiasm for the new databases.
For elementary students, the Encyclopedia Britannica is a great place to begin gathering information. In addition to the thoroughly researched and annotated articles, written with grade-level appropriate language, topics are highly illustrated and often include videos. Included in the state-funded bundle is the Spanish-language Britannica Escolar.
CultureGrams has information about cultures and communities around the world, including kid-friendly recipes from every country and state.
In the middle schools, teachers have used the ProQuest databases to find articles for students to read and annotate. Students have used Encyclopedia Britannica for research units on such topics as the Middle Ages and Islam. Librarians check Teaching Books for background information on the authors and titles for the Battle of the Books team reading competition.
At Berkeley High School, students have used the ProQuest database to access articles for numerous academic tasks such as writing annotated bibliographies for AP Environmental Science. For advanced language students, they will be able to find scholarly articles in languages other than English.
Teachers can rest assured that their students are finding relevant materials and can move on to the important task of interpreting the information.
More information and passwords can be found at https://digitech.berkeley.net/tools/busd-supported-tools