Search strategies

Search Strategies

Educational Databases, Evaluation, and Citation Tools

Michigan eLibrary - eResources

Putting theory into practice and teaching good Internet search strategies is often a challenge. Knowing how to evaluate the information we find on the Internet is critical. Most searchers use a search engine, such as Google or Yahoo to find hits. The following section links to educational databases that provide reliable and valid information while saving search time. This section also talks about how to evaluate a website to get the most accurate information, and the importance of citing sources.  

Michigan eLibrary

   Check out what's new for educators. 

Michigan eLibrary is an educational portal available to any Michigan school, library or Michigan resident. All schools have access to this through their school library. Some resources available in MeL are: eFull text magazines and newspapers, primary source documents, practice testing for GED, ACT, Careers, SAT, and much more. MEL has 40+ databases where searchers can read full text articles from magazines and newspapers; find current reference sources; use advanced search functions; cite sources. The advantage of MeL is that the information is valid and reliable. The search results are more likely to be on target as compared to a search performed within a search engine like Yahoo or Google. The State Library and the MeL vendors provide video tutorials on each of the products.  

The MeL website has many resources. The best place to start are the databases based on your interest and level. 

Many of the research databases in MeL have toolboxes and assistive features including the Article Reading level, read-aloud feature,  or the ability to download as an mp3 file for teachers and students who prefer to listen or have a reading disability. Some even have a translation option to translate to a different language. If you see the following next to an article try them out.

Michigan eLibrary reading level  Some databases feature the Article Reading level.

Michigan eLibrary toolbox for eresources      The database toolbox includes: Send to, Favorite, Print, Cite, Translate, Listen, Font Up(Increase font size), Font down (decrease font size).

NOTE: This service is funded by the Federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) via the institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the Library of Michigan. MeL databases are accessible to all Michigan residents with a valid driver's license or State ID number when accessing off your school's campus. It will often recognize you if you are accessing from a location in Michigan and you will not need your driver's license or state ID.

Web Evaluation

Why Evaluate?

You have just learned how to use Michigan eLibrary a collection of databases which contain valid and reliable information. We do know that you and your students will use search engines such as Google for research, but how do you know when the information is accurate and reliable?

Good research strategies include:

  • using multiple sources of data
  • assessing your resources by evaluating for accuracy, bias, validity, and reliability
  • always citing sources 
  • using data collection strategies that help you meet your research needs

Joyce Valenza Criteria

Joyce Valenza, nationally acclaimed media specialist and super-librarian, has created two systems of evaluation for web sites. Check out the BASIC system for elementary level students, or the CARRDSS system for advanced or secondary students. 

Click on the image below for the BASIC            Click on the image below for the Advanced
system for elementary students                         CARRDSS system for Advanced students

Basic CARRDS                                Advanced CARRDS

Review the Bogus & Hoax PowerPoint for an introduction to Snopes, Joyce Valenza's BASIC and CARRDSS systems, and the fact vs. fiction phenomenon of web evaluation.

Bogus and hoax web sites are a source of fun and entertainment for many. However, you may not want to be on the receiving end of laughter when presenting research. In order to not be taken in by one of these sites, it is important to understand how to evaluate.  

Check out All About Explorers. Critically review the website using the Joyce Valenza criteria at the BASIC (elementary) or ADVANCED (Secondary-CARRDSS) level.

Next check out this government site from NASA. Critically review the website using the Joyce Valenza criteria at the BASIC (elementary) or ADVANCED (Secondary-CARRDSS) level.

Which of these sites do you think is the hoax? 

Safe Searching

KidzSearch uses Google Safe Searching to filter out inapproproate sites for children. This resource can be set as the home page on any browser (home or school). We have students use this search engine in the 21things4students  Search Strategies section. For a short video tutorial on how to use KidzSearch click here

Online Citation Makers

Online citation makers

Visit the TechTools4Writing site to explore the bibliographic tools and citation makers listed in the picture. The citation makers automatically generate citations in MLA and APA format. 

Check out additional resources for Search Strategies

Learning Objectives

After completing this Thing, the educator will:

  • Know how to use the appropriate research tools as well as evaluate websites for reliable information

  • Know how to use citation tools to cite all sources

  • Understand what a research database is

  • Make connections with technology standards and best practice

  • Transfer the learning to professional practice by using research databases and online citation makers to save search time and create accurate citations



21 Things Assignment:

1. Check out one of the resources or databases in MeL that your students might use in your classroom to do their class work. For example, for their reports/projects they might use Kids Infobits or Research in Context and when they are working on Michigan History they might use Mel Michigana or Michigana (Sabin Collection): Sources in U.S. History Online. Make a list of the databases your students would find helpful and list them as well as their web address on your Face of Your Classroom site. 

2. Include a critical evaluation of the two websites you reviewed (both hoax and real) and their web addresses in your Digital Portfolio.

3. Select one of the FREE citation makers (Ex: BibMe, LandMark Citation Machine, etc.) and create a citation for a book or journal/magazine article that you have read recently. Copy and paste the citation into your Digital Portfolio. 

4. Take the very short survey giving feedback for this Thing.


Addressing the ISTE Standards For Educators


1a. Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness.
1c. Stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences.

2b. Advocate for equitable access to educational technology, digital content and learning opportunities to meet the diverse needs of all students.
2c. Model for colleagues the identification, exploration, evaluation, curation and adoption of new digital resources and tools for learning.

3a. Create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community.
3b. Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency.
3c. Mentor students in safe, legal and ethical practices with digital tools and the protection of intellectual rights and property.


1. Generating & Testing Hypotheses;
2. Cues, Questions, Advance Organizers;
3. Homework and Practice;
4. Identify Similarities & Differences

Powered by Foxbright
Download the latest PDF Viewer