Category: Websites

How to Find Reliable Internet Sources

Reliable internet sources are the same as those you would search for in the library. You want:

  • primary sources
  • unbiased sources
  • sources with the background and training to understand the topic

Young students have difficulty understanding these rules. They have barely learned about ‘primary sources’ and have no idea how to select unbiased ones. As for the final point, the ability to select sources with relevant background–that usually comes with age and experience, not something students get for most of their academic career.

With that in mind, there is one guideline that will help even novice researchers find reliable sources: the extension. Here are the most popular extensions in order of reliability, dependability, and trustworthiness:


Tech Tip #108: Three-click Rule

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Some websites/blogs are confusing. I have to click through from one site to the next to get the information I wanted until I’m nowhere near where I started. That’s annoying!

A: I agree! It’s called the 3-click rule made popular by Web designer Jeffrey Zeldman in his book, “Taking Your Talent to the Web.”. Oft-debunked-but-just-as-oft-followed, this  apocryphal rule claims ‘that no product or piece of content should ever be more than three clicks away from your Web site’s main page’.

This is true with not just programming a website, but teaching tech to students. During my one-score-and-seven-years of teaching, I’ve discovered if I keep the geeky stuff to a max of 2-3 steps, students remember it, embrace it, and use it. More than three steps, I hear the sound of eyes glazing over.

What you want to remember from this rule: Make information easy to access, quick to find. Readers and students have a short attention span.


13 Online Bridge Building Resources

The popularity of bridge building as a school activity has fluctuated over the years, once a right of passage for 8th graders and then avoided. Recent years have seen a resurgence for some great reasons:

  • Problem-solving skills: Bridge building requires you to identify and solve problems, such as how to make a bridge strong enough to support a certain weight or how to make a bridge that is aesthetically pleasing.
  • Critical thinking skills: Bridge building requires you to think critically about the different factors that affect the design and construction of a bridge, such as the materials used, the forces acting on the bridge, and the environment in which the bridge will be built.
  • Teamwork skills: Bridge building is a team sport, and you will need to work effectively with others to design, build, and test a bridge.
  • Communication skills: Bridge building requires you to communicate effectively with others, both verbally and in writing. You will need to be able to explain your ideas to others, listen to their feedback, and work together to solve problems.
  • Creativity: Bridge building requires you to be creative and come up with new ideas. You will need to be able to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to problems.

If you’re having a bridge building lesson at your school, here are great links to support that:

Bridge Building (hands-on)

  1. Bridge Constructor (app)
  2. Bridge Designer by SourceForge
  3. Open Bridge Modeler (software download)
  4. Structural Bridge Design by Autodesk (free)

Basics (resources, info)

  1. Bridge basics
  2. Bridge building contest
  3. Building Bridges
  4. How to Build a Bridge (an infographic and more)
  5. Model bridge Design
  6. World’s Strangest Bridges!!


  1. DiscoverE Bridge Building Links
  2. Mississippi Department of Transportation Bridge Building Competition
  3. National Society of Professional Engineers

–images from Deposit Photo

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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

33 Online Research Resources

Quick, safe spots to send your students for research (click here for updates):

  1. BrainPop–with the BrainPop characters, a launchpad to curiosity
  2. CoolKidFacts–kid-friendly videos, pictures, info, and quizzes–all 100% suitable for children
  3. Dimensions–academic research geared for college-level
  4. Fact Monster–help with homework and facts
  5. Google Earth Timelapse–what changes to the planet over time
  6. Google Trends–what’s trending in searches
  7. History Channel–great speeches
  8. How Stuff Works–the gold standard in explaining stuff to kids
  9. Info Please–events cataloged year-by-year
  10. National Geographic for Kids
  11. Ngram Viewer–analyzes all words in all books on Google Books
  12. TagGalaxy–search using a cloud
  13. Wild Wordsmyth–picture dictionary for kids
  14. World Book–requires membership

Citing Resources

  1. BibMe
  2. Citation Machine
  3. EasyBib

Kids Search Engines

  1. Kiddle–visual search engine for kids
  2. Kid Rex
  3. Kidtopia

How to Research

  1. A Google A Day
  2. How to Search on Google
  3. Power Searching (with Google)
  4. Teaching students to search/research
  5. Internet Search and Research–a lesson plan for K-8

Lesson Plans

  1. Image Copyright Do’s and Don’ts
  2. Internet Search and Research


  1. BrainPOP–Bring learning to your fingertips™ with the BrainPOP® Featured Movie app
  2. Kids Picture Dictionary
  3. Primary Source Documents
  4. SparkVue–collect and display live data from iPhone etc to the iPad
  5. Talk to Books–research your topic based on books
  6. TED app–TED’s official app presents talks from some of the world’s most fascinating people