South Dakota Library Challenge: Electronic Resource Edition
Lesson 4 | SIRS Issues Researcher and Discoverer | February 16, 2015
*The South Dakota Library Challenge: Electronic Resources Edition was developed by the South Dakota State Library staff to introduce you to the statewide subscription electronic resources. The Electronic Resources Challenge encourages library staff to learn more about the resources that provide expanded access to information and research tools to all schools, libraries and citizens of South Dakota.
For Lesson 4 of the SD Library Challenge, we were asked to explore SIRS Issues Researcher and Discoverer. SIRS Discoverer is designed for grades K-9 and contains selected full-text magazine and newspaper articles that meet today's curriculum needs. It has pictures, maps, current events, biographies, and more. SIRS Issues Researcher is designed for grades 6-12. It also offers full-text magazine and newspaper articles and other similar features to Discoverer. In addition, Issues Researcher offers "Leading Issues," which are articles, information, and more on more than 300 research topics. Both resources show readability levels and both link to web sites that are search-related, safe, trustworthy, and non-commercial.
To begin this lesson, I watched the 2-minute videos on both SIRS Discoverer and SIRS Issues Researcher. These were very informative short clips that really helped me understand what these two resources are, what they offer, and how they differ. These would be great videos to share with my staff at both the middle school and high school.
Next, in SIRS Discoverer, I did a search for giraffes, which is my youngest son's favorite animal. The results were 42 newspaper articles, 198 magazine articles, 63 reference articles, 31 graphics, and 2 WebFind Sites. I experimented with modifying the search parameters to only "Easy" reading level, and then I was given only 113 overall articles. I also noticed that I could sort the results by relevance, date, or Lexile. The graphics next to each article was helpful so that I knew what each article had to offer, as well.
On the homepage of SIRS Discoverer, there is a sidebar called "Database Features." The options on this sidebar are Activities, Animal Facts, Biographies, Country Facts, Leading Issues, Maps of the World, and Science Fair Explorer, among others. I clicked on Country Facts and then chose to research Kenya. The reference page about Kenya gave me some of the basic facts about the country, including its official name, capital, population, size, government, agricultural resources, climate, currency, and more. It also provided information about the major events in Kenya's history, a map, a picture of Kenya's flag, and links to additional resources about Kenya. This would be a really great resource for a geography class. I also explored Maps of the World. These maps would be useful when doing country projects, discussing current events, researching historical events, and so much more. The last resource I explored in the Database Features was the Science Fair Explorer. Our 7th graders are currently getting ready for their science fair, so this was of interest to me. I really liked the engaging and inviting interface and all of the great experiment ideas this resource had to offer. I will definitely be sharing this with our middle school science teachers.
Moving on to SIRS Issues Researcher, I browsed through the list of Leading Issues on the homepage of the resource. I chose to explore the topic of Food and Nutrition in more depth. Upon clicking on this topic, I was given a Topic Overview, Pros and Cons, Essential Questions, and Research Tools, including Topic Overview, Timeline, Global Impact, Statistics, My Analysis, and a Note Organizer. I appreciated that the Essential Questions would help me narrow down my topic if I was going to be doing research on food and nutrition. I could also sort my results by date, relevance, or Lexile score, and I was given the opportunity to narrow my results by type (newspaper, magazine, viewpoints, reference, or graphics/multimedia). Each article also listed the date, Lexile score, size, subjects, and summary. Such a great resource! So much more relevant and user-friendly than Google and other Internet search engines.
On the right-hand sidebar of SIRS Issues Researcher, there is a feature called "Curriculum Pathfinders." There are many course subjects offered here and many that I was interested in, but I chose to research physical fitness. Most of the resources that came up in the results were the same types of resources that came up when I searched food and nutrition; however, this time there were also some government documents and primary sources included.
Both SIRS Discoverer and SIRS Issues Researcher are useful resources for the students that I work with.