File - Vicki McCall's Professional Portfolio

Searching Smarter,
Not Harder
A lesson on the benefits of
using a database instead of
one of the more common
search engines
Mrs. Vicki McCall
So, you have to
do a research
What Now??
Mrs. Killjoy, your 6th grade ELA
teacher, has assigned you
the job of finding out if caffeine is
good or bad for you.
• Find 5 articles to read on this
• What is your opinion about the
• Write a persuasive essay on your
viewpoint, given the facts.
• Cite information from at least 2 of
your articles.
Where should I search?
Google It? 
• Millions of
Search a
results…who’s got the
• Limited results
• Choose your own
readability level
words…What? Am I a
• Lots of technical
rocket scientist?
• There’s always
butTeacher says
• Information is
• Hey! That’s
more like it!
Finding the Needle in the
Make your
Work your
The Big
• Task: What needs to be found?
• Info Seeking: What resources do I use?
• Location & Access: Where???
• Use of Info: What info is useable when I
find it?
• Synthesis: What do I need to create?
• Evaluation? How will I know if I did a good
1. Define your Task
(Mrs. Killjoy sort of did this for you.)
• Locate information about
caffeine’s effects and make a
decision if it is good or bad for
2. Info Seeking Strategies
• Sirs Discoverer will let you find your info
much faster due to searching by subject in
this database instead of searching the whole
web with keywords.
• It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know
that you want to save some time for this,
so why search the web??
3. Location and
Access ??
•SIRS Discoverer/WebFind contains
thousands of carefully selected
articles and websites with just what
you need!
SIRS Discoverer
is the place to be!!
 Go the the DISCUS website.
 Click on SIRS Discoverer!
There are two ways to search:
1. Using keywords
2. Searching by Subject Index
Basic KeywordSearch
• Use a web to organize your thinking and to
identify keywords (bolded) for your search.
You will use these “main idea” words in the
search for articles.
What is it?
What are its
effects on
Where is it
• Use your keywords in the basic search box.
Remember to use the following ways to
limit your results.
 Use Boolean Logic symbols (that’s Boolean, not baleen),
use +, -, OR to find articles with or without certain
words, such as caffeine + effects + teens
 Truncation (*) caffein* will pick up caffeine, caffeinated,
caffeination, etc.
 Phrase searching (“ “) “caffeinated beverages” will make sure
both words are together
 Natural Language – typing in a question, thought, etc., like
“What is caffeine?”
• Here’s what that looks like
You will still have to sort
through your results to find
articles that you can use.
Advanced Search
• You can do all of the things mentioned
above to limit your search in one step by
clicking on the Advanced Search link at the
top of the page and choosing from the
choices for each field.
A much easier way is to use the
subject indexes SIRS provides.
Click on the
button for
Health and
Human Body.
The second article listed is about
caffeine, and it has descriptors listed
at the bottom that will help you find
more articles.
Click on the descriptor, “caffeine.”
Now, all your results are about
There are many other descriptors listed so that you can
follow a link to any topic that relates to your search and
your purpose. For example, you might click on
“Physiological Effect.”
Now, you can
•use the tabs
across the top to
pick journal
articles, news
articles, magazine
articles, etc.
• use the legend
across the top to
pick articles on
your reading level
•Click on the
yellow apple to
find related
subjects if you
need more info.
Citing your Articles
SIRS Discoverer
provides a complete
citation guide if you
click on How To Cite
at the bottom of the
Home Page, or it can
be found at the top
of your results
You’ve finished the Location and
Access (step 3) of the Big 6.
Now it’s up to you to use the
information effectively by reading,
taking notes, and organizing what you
learn (Step 4) so that you can write
that persuasive essay (Step 5) that
Mrs. Killjoy wants!
Good luck with your
Remember to…
•follow the steps of the Big 6 Model.
•use the SIRS Discoverer database
to locate your articles instead of
getting lost surfing the web!
Works Cited
DISCUS: Your Information Place. SC State Library, n.d.
Web. 01 Nov. 2009. <>.
SIRS Discoverer on the Web. SIRS Publishing, n.d.
Web. 01 Nov. 2009. <
discoweb/disco/do/ frontpage>.
• I would assess my students through
observation and the use of a checklist of
search skills as I assisted them with
research in the library or computer lab for
this research/writing project.
• I would know that they met my objectives
if they could successfully find relevant
articles on their individual reading levels in
the SIRS Discoverer database, and could
effectively use and cite the articles for
their writing project in their ELA class.