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Homework in Oregon.

A US public library site

This is Multnomah's public library homework site, an American site with some useful evaluated pages, but less useful if UK students need a British slant. This is best used by bookmarking those pages useful to a school's curriculum.

There is a Text-a-Librarian option on the site which I wasn't about to try out as I assume high cost prices would apply to all outside the US. Neither is the Online Research Tools for Students an option without a Multnomah library card. However, all British public libraries offer the same with access to British encyclopaedias rather than American ones.

Evaluating websites is a useful page, giving succinct pointers to students of how to spot a trusted site. It's not so detailed that pupils will skip over reading the points. The last observation is a view every school librarian must make at least once a week --'you may want to look elsewhere: in books, magazines, or newspapers. Also, remember that you can always ask a librarian for help searching for any kind of information you need'.

Of the Homework websites featured, I checked Native American as we need updated information. This is an area where the American slant is useful. There was a lot of detail on the different tribes, legislation and treaties and the legends and folktales. Aimed at Key Stage 3 level, but that's just right for where it appears in the UK curriculum.

I also looked at the biographies. Again, the bias was towards Americans. It is interesting to see what is important here. Canadians have a separate entry, as do Hispanics, and Lewis and Clark have their own entry on the first list, as do Trappers and traders. I can see why Astronauts have their own entry in an American list. The President list is for Presidents and First Ladies which for a British list would simply be Prime Ministers with no mention of their wives until individual entries. When America has its first woman president I wonder whether this will change?

From this biography site I followed leads to a Dead People Server. I found this very useful as sometimes you are not sure if famous people who have vanished from the spotlight are sitting out their days in a retirement home by the sea, or are in fact dead. There is humour here. 'If an occasional joke offends you, you shouldn't be reading a site called Dead People Server'. Again, an American bias. I searched for Ronnie Biggs (Programme Mrs Biggs had just been on TV). That was too British, but Ronnie Lane was listed. There is not a lot of detail on any entry, but dates are given and there is assurance that they have been checked against at least two sources.

One of the homework pages gives information on Literature and Authors. This would be great for primary schools, although the librarian/teacher would need to do the research first. The general section includes booklists, book awards and links to websites about books, interviews with authors and some online stories. By Author is arranged according to American grades, although it is obvious which level is applicable. From birth to age six included only seven authors, all American, but included Dr Seuss, Eric Carle and Maurice Sendak. Grades 1-6 included the British authors Lewis Carroll, Roald Dahl (we class him as our own) C. S. Lewis and of course J. K Rowling.

The Popular series page included many series today's children are reading. For work on authors, all these pages would be useful places for pupils to research, however without knowing they exist I would not think many pupils would find them by general Google searching.

The whole site has some gems, but is best used by school librarians picking and choosing which pages to bring to their pupils' attentions for specific pieces of work.

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Title Annotation:ict@sla;
Author:Woods, Dawn
Publication:School Librarian
Article Type:Website overview
Date:Mar 22, 2013
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