Before you even begin your search for nonfiction and informative reading and writing websites for your students to use, it is extremely important that you’re able to recognize and understand what constitutes a valid and trustworthy website. But aren’t all news-reporting websites the same? If it’s on the internet, doesn’t that mean it real? No! Not at all! There are plenty of websites available to the public that do not focus on the actual truth, try to convince you to form an opinion a certain way, or report satire-style news reports. These are NOT the websites we want are our students to be researching for school related assignments, nor are they what we would call ‘reliable non-fiction.’
You can prevent your students from using websites that are NOT suitable for nonfiction and informative reading and writing assignments. There is specific criteria to be mindful of when evaluating a website for classroom use. The five main points you are looking for are: Authority, Accuracy, Objectivity, Currency and Coverage.
- Is there an author? Are they qualified or an expert?
- Who is the sponsor? Is that individual reputable?
- Is there a link to information about the author or sponsor?
- If the page includes neither a signature nor indicates a sponsor, is there any other way to determine its origin?
- Is the information reliable and error-free?
- Is there an editor or someone who verifies/checks the information?
- Do any other sources have the same information?
- Does the information show a minimum of bias?
- Is the page designed to influence your opinion?
- Are there any ads on the page?
- Is the page dated? If so, when was the last update?
- How current are the links?
- Have some expired or moved?
- What topics are covered?
- What does this page offer that is not found elsewhere?
- How in-depth is the material?
There are four websites that I consider to be valid and trustworthy news reporting websites that are certainly suitable for all students to use and accurately report on when looking for nonfiction and informative reading and writing sources. They include: ChannelOne, Huffington Post, Britannica and Discovery news. Below, I have included a brief review of each website.
ChannelOne: This website specializes in encouraging students to be informed, digital-savvy global citizens.They have a daily news show that some school districts broadcast daily and provide supplementary educational materials that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards. They are also designed to help students, teachers and parents interpret the news and spark important conversations. It focuses on upper elementary, middle and high school aged students.
Britannica: Encyclopedia Britannica has been around for decades. It is one of the top sources of information on almost any topic of interest. Britannica has gotten even more global and technological, as it is now available in 7 major countries and has an App for your iPhone or iPad. Britannica also has a strong focus on Education. Britannica Kids is more elementary school-friendly. Britannica E-books are also available, as well as access to Britannica Digital Learning/Britannica School, which provides thousands of curriculum-relevant articles, images, videos, audio clips, primary sources, maps, and editor-recommended websites.
Discovery News: Much like the others, Discovery News is reputable website reporting in the fields of science and history. You can find a wide variety of articles, videos, and images on almost anything science or history related. Discovery Kids focuses on elementary-level curriculum, such as animals, science and outer space. There are apps available as well as online activities for children.
Huffington Post: Unlike the previous websites, Huffington Post is geared more towards adults, however still reliable and accurate. It contains a variety of new articles, blogs and original material. Some of the areas of interest are politics, business, technology, and entertainment.
These websites, I have found, provide accurate and valid information that our students can all benefit from when they need nonfiction and informative reading and writing sources. Using the website evaluation criteria, I have ensured that these websites report on accurate, trustworthy and valid information. For activities such as reports and current events, students will find these websites to be easily accessed, and relatable. Through the use of technology, (Apps for iOS and Android) students can obtain nonfiction material at their convenience and in the classroom.