Evaluating websites

January 30, 2017 - This is the checklist that our fifth graders are using to evaluate websites found during searches and determine reliability. The biggest lesson: don't rely on just one website; check multiple sources (books, databases, websites, etc.) for multiple perspectives and verification of facts. 

Media Messages

October 28, 2015 - Fifth graders have been learning how to be skeptical consumers of media messages. Here are the slides guiding their discussions. If you open it with the link under the presentation then you can read the discussion guidance.

WIS Grade 5 Media Messages

Search Strategies

Often, a good starting point is an online encyclopedia article, to define the topic broadly and see photos or videos about it. See Online Resources for complete lists of encyclopedias available to the WIS community. Avoid using Wikipedia since it is not a professionally edited source and we can't be sure the information is accurate, current, credible or written for children. 

Next, check the WIS library catalog to find books on your topic. (Little known fact: our library catalog is also the place to search for websites! See more information on it below.) We also recommend you check your public library for books. 

Websites often have great information, but remember, not all websites are accurate, true, or appropriate for students. The best approach is to consult websites recommended by your librarians and teachers or found by searching Webpath Express (our database of websites) or a search engine with selected sites for children such as (formerly Yahooligans). Avoid Google and other like search engines since some of the content is not appropriate for students and it can be very difficult to tell what's unbiased and credible.

There are many other sources of information! Depending on your topic, you may be visiting museums, interviewing experts, viewing art, etc.. For good educational videos, try BrainPop or National Geographic. Use YouTube only with your parents' permission, as not all content is appropriate for children.

Search Tools

Only AFTER using our subscription resources found at Online Resources, you may want to search for information using these sources:

Google Images - Use "Search Tools, Labeled for Reuse" to search the ethical way for images that are labeled "ok" for your re-use:

ethical Google image search tool

Sweetsearch - pre-selected high quality website search results aimed at students.


Research Model

We can use AGOPPE to help us through our research process:

Ask Questions

  • Be curious!
  • Explore your subject (read, watch, listen and think)
  • Develop good questions

Gather Information

  • Identify keywords about subject
  • Look at useful sources (books, online databases, etc.)
  • Search for and browse information
  • Read/watch/listen and take notes on relevant information

Organize Information

  • Use graphic organizer or note cards to organize information and ideas
  • Summarize your findings
  • Draw conclusions
  • Cite your sources


  • Decide what format to communicate what you've learned
  • Prepare a first draft and revise it with improvements
  • Finish final product
  • Include a "Sources" Used" list


  • Share your final product with your audience
  • Receive comments and answer questions


  • Reflect on your research process and your final product