Designed for grades K-9, this contains selected full text magazine and newspaper articles that are aligned with national content standards. It also has pictures, maps, current events, biographies and more.
My first task was to do a search on a favorite animal and discuss the results, so I looked up dolphins. There were 601 articles returned in that search, 99 were newspaper, 339 were magazines, 97 were reference, 74 were graphics and 10 were Web. I also noted that each article was listed by title, publication information, lexile level, difficulty, and file size, plus there was a summary for each. When I took a look at a specific article, I was able to read the text version, which included some teacher questions at the end, and had the option of reading the PDF version—which was wonderful—that way I could see all the pictures, information, graphics and captions that went with the story. All of the citation information was listed at the end, and I also tried out the listen button. Struggling readers can have the entire article read aloud.
My second task was to go back to the initial page and select a country in “Country Facts” which is a “Database Feature” on the right hand side of the homepage. I chose Greece, and was presented with the official name, capital, population, size, continent, government type, agriculture, climate, currency, language, and holidays. In addition, there was a map and flag that could be viewed and printed as an 8 x 11 PDF, as well as a major events in history list, a “did you know?” section, and links to additional resources about Greece.
My third task was to try out another “Database Feature” from the homepage, so tried “Biographies.” When I typed in my person, who was Mary Todd Lincoln, I was given the list for articles about her—in that instance, there was only one, but when I checked Abraham Lincoln, there were 9 articles and 17 graphics.
My final task on Discoverer was to check out the “Maps of the World” Database Feature. I looked up Australia, and was pleased to see that a PDF of the map could be printed. I also noted that there were historical maps of the world available, as well as historical maps of America available. In addition, maps of all of the states in America were available, as well as the provinces of Canada.
This is the middle-high school version of SIRS Discoverer. Designed for grades 6-12, it has similar features such as selected full text magazine articles and newspaper articles aligned with national content standards, but it also has unique features including “Leading Issues—articles/information on more than 300 research topics, as well as many tools for learning about and doing research such as “My Analysis,” Note Organizer,” the “iThink Skills Tutor.”
My first task here was to select a leading issue and discuss the information located there.
I chose “Alternative Education,” and found that there was a wonderful topic overview, as well as the following: Pro/Con Essential Questions (which would help a student pick a focus for a research paper), Perspectives, Global Impact, Statistics, Terms to Know, as well as links to Additional Resources (organizations, key figures, events, and primary sources), and related articles. Of course, the citation information is also given.
My second task was to select “Curriculum Pathfinders,” on the right side of the home screen, note the range of topics covered (math, science, social studies, language arts, fine arts, health), pick a subject (fine arts—theater) and discuss the information located there. When I got to FINE ARTS there, I was thrilled to see many great research ideas in a word cloud, as well as ideas like How do I dance the samba? How do I analyze a work of poetry? Each time you click on a subject area, the word cloud changes into another set of research ideas—FUN! After I specified THEATER, I was given a large list of sites/information concerning theater. When I selected “Actor’s Studio” I was directed to the website with the information—in this case PBS. Another thing to note was that there are common core correlations in each content area, which would help educators select sites/information to complement the standards they are working on.
When I was in high school, we had to use print materials that were available for research projects, which limited our options, because most libraries didn’t have extensive amounts of research materials. Now, there is so much information available, and it is so easy to access, that I’m almost sad that I don’t have to do research papers J The task is simplified extensively by all of the wonderful and convenient resources available; the real key is getting teachers and students to use these materials---CHECK SIRS OUT at Potter County Library, or with your SD State Library e-card at:
SIRS DISCOVERER http://www.sdln.net/cgi-bin/authgate/index.cgi?db=disc
SIRS RESEARCHER http://www.sdln.net/cgi-bin/authgate/index.cgi?db=know