First Stop: Wikipedia

September 28, 2009

Wikipedia is usually the first place I go whenever I want to find out more about someone or something.  On Saturday, for instance, I wanted to learn more about Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul and Mary) who recently passed away from leukemia.  I went to Wikipedia and learned that she was born in Kentucky but grew up in New York City.  She was also married four times. For some reason, this sort of inane information is really interesting to me.  I kind of like to read about nothing which is why I enjoy People and US Weekly so much.

Typically wikipedia.org is a good starting place, although sometimes it is disappointing.  The entry may be too short and not very helpful.  Or an inordinate amount of space is devoted to a single incident in a person’s life while other important information is completely omitted.

From Wikipedia I do a Google search and usually end up clicking on the first few hits.  I usually try to piece together information from the different websites I visit.  It’s not a very scientific process. I think the “controversy” or disagreement surrounding a topic is interesting.  Mostly it just serves to remind me that there is a lot of misinformation out there.  Or perhaps a lot of people just believe different things.

In general, I think I’m a pretty efficient Internet browser.  I can usually find the answer to something in a minute or two.  When I look at my browsing history, it tends to be pretty long and extensive even though I may have only been on the Internet for fifteen minutes.  I also know how to narrow down a search using key words.

In terms of news websites that I regularly visit, I just have a few “old reliables” that I look at every day.  Those websites are: msnbc.com, helenair.com (my hometown newspaper) and mpr.org. Sometimes I’ll hit the Star Tribune website too.  I like those sites because I know my way around them, and I trust what I read on them (although I must admit that the quality of reporting in my hometown is not sensational).

My students do not go on the Internet at school.  As I read this week’s chapter, however, I started to think that perhaps I am the one who needs a tutorial in how to use RSS feeds and bookmarking software to look for resources online, especially teaching resources.  I have spent HOURS online looking for good lessons, activities and worksheets to no avail.  I don’t quite know why that is. Perhaps there is just an inordinate amount of bad stuff out there.  Maybe I am more critical when it comes to teaching materials.  Maybe it’s because just when I’m on the cusp of finding something good, I discover that I have to pay money to access it.  It’s awfully discouraging. Often it’s just easier to wade through books with teaching materials than it is to search online.  I would like to find some good reliable teaching sites to visit on a regular basis.

On a side note, before my students and I head to the computer lab, I have to make sure they have adequate receptive skills to handle listening to instructions in French about how to log on and use KidPix.  Typically, we start going to the computer lab in December or January.  I still struggle to come up with meaningful technology lessons each week, and this is a site I go back to again and again for ideas. It’s been a lifesaver.

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4 Responses to “First Stop: Wikipedia”

  1. JoAnn said

    Hi Kelsey!
    I thought I’d let you know that I visited your blog today. I, too, talked about using Wikipedia. I’ve also been looking for ESL classroom blogs. The few I’ve found so far that look interesting are all secondary. Do check out the blog Janice found from Troy, Michigan. It’s mostly a student ‘show what you’ve learned’ and teacher/parent commnication. (I’d live link it, but the program won’t let me).

  2. wanderingturnip said

    great kidpix link! I think next week’s task for me is to figure out how to manage all the websites/links I’ve found useful since we started class. Hmm…

  3. Maria Theissen said

    Kelsey-

    It’s so funny how many of us reference and use Wikipedia on a daily basis. I always feel a little bit iffy about trusting everything that I read there. I know that I’m probably being paranoid…buuut.

  4. candance said

    I agree with your comment about feeling as if you need a workshop on RSS. I too feel that my abilities to organize and filter through massive amounts of information are very limited. While I’ve tried to develop some organization techniques with my research wiki and countless file folders on my computer I can tell that these techniques are not enough. I’m thinking of starting a diigo account but have not yet taken the plunge.

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