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The KIDS Report: Student Publishers Collaborate to Produce an Internet Resource

Barbara SPITZ <>
Madison (Wisconsin) Metropolitan School District

Susan CALCARI <>
University of Wisconsin-Madison


KIDS (Kids Identifying and Discovering Sites) is an ongoing Internet report of useful Web sites produced by K-12 students as a resource for other K-12 students. This unique project is a cooperative effort of two classrooms in the Madison Metropolitan School District in Madison, Wisconsin, one classroom each in Nederland and Boulder, Colorado, and one recently added high school classroom in Hoover, Alabama. While KIDS is facilitated by the NSF Internet Scout Project, the real work is done by the students, who select, evaluate, and annotate all Internet resources in every issue.



A small group of creative and dedicated people gathered in Boulder, Colorado, on July 22, 1996, to brainstorm an Internet project that would respond to the needs of K-12 students and teachers. A simple but exciting plan emerged from that meeting: Students would identify, evaluate and annotate a list of Internet sites that other students could use. This report would be published twice a month, building an archive of useful resources for other students and teachers. The process would be collaborative and student-centered and would produce an authentic product. Although the students are not required to build each report around a single theme, in most cases they do decide with their teachers on a subject they all are interested in or that will be covered in one of their classes in the near future. Therefore, most of the KIDS Reports are theme-based.

This project was created by a team of four teachers and four to five students from each of the four original schools. Teachers presented the project to the students and worked with students on learning the skills to locate, evaluate and annotate quality sites. Students named the report and created the selection guidelines in collaboration with students from other schools with guidance from their teachers.

In this plan, students themselves become part of the solution of how to use the Internet in education.

The model for this publication was the Scout Report, a weekly report produced by the Internet Scout Project that serves the higher education community. The Internet Scout Project is funded by the National Science Foundation.


  • To create a student-driven publication where students determine the criteria for evaluating and including sites.
  • To allow students to identify and annotate sites that are useful, fun, and interesting to them.
  • To promote higher-order thinking through the creation and application of evaluation guidelines.
  • To provide students the opportunity to build life-long skills: knowing how to access, evaluate, and organize information.
  • To offer students an opportunity to work collaboratively with students of different ages and backgrounds on an authentic product
  • To offer students an opportunity to help build an organized structure on the Internet for the K-12 community.


The KIDS Report main page provides general information regarding this K-12 student-produced report. Students and teachers from the participating schools work hard to produce the KIDS Report on a biweekly basis. Since the creation of the Web site, approximately one year ago, there have been over 44,000 hits.

Collaboration is an essential component:
Students in individual classrooms work together...
Selection criteria, annotation guidelines and the project name resulted from the collaborative efforts of students from different grades, different schools and even different states.

The KIDS Web site contains several sections including the current KIDS Report, past issues of KIDS, a search mechanism for current and past issues, site selection guidelines, and subscription information for the e-mail version of the KIDS Report. The entire KIDS Web site is offered in both graphical and non-graphical versions, an option that allows accessibility for all end users. To our knowledge, KIDS is the only regularly published, collaborative Internet resource publication produced by K-12 students for other K-12 students. (Click on icon to view the page)

This is the most current KIDS Report. The reports evolve around a theme chosen by the students and their teachers. The Web sites included in the KIDS Reports are then selected and reviewed by the students themselves. A report generally contains anywhere from 10 to 15 or more sites.

The selection criteria created by the students themselves is the key to understanding the real power behind KIDS Students produce a product for other students based on criteria they determine to be important. There are clear guidelines students use to evaluate potential sites to be included in the KIDS Report. This criteria, collaboratively created by the students themselves, is listed on this page as the Site Selection Guidelines. Main categories include: the design, ease of use, content, and credibility of the Web site. The selection guidelines are provided for both readers and other students who may want to use similar criteria when identifying and selecting Internet sites for their own Web pages. Students learn to critically evaluate what they see on the Internet while also learning about the content that they are evaluating.

The KIDS Report archive provides links to nearly two years of reports, beginning in May of the 1995-96 school year. The KIDS Report is published during in-school months only. As you may have noticed, the KIDS Report was initially called Y'know. This was changed with the start of the 1996-97 school year. All four participating classrooms nominated and voted on the current title, the KIDS Report: Kids Identifying and Discovering Sites.

For those who choose to search the current and past issues of the KIDS Report, this simple search page is provided. This is the most recent addition to the KIDS site, the result of reader requests.

The KIDS Report subscription page provides both manual and automated online instructions detailing how to subscribe and unsubscribe. Currently, the KIDS Report is sent via e-mail to approximately 1,000 readers.


  • Over 45,500 hits and approximately 1,000 subscribers in one year.
  • Recognition from prominent organizations including:
    • American Library Association Select List of Sites for Young Adults
    • Global SchoolNet K-12 Opportunities
    • WebCrawler
    • USA Today Hot sites
    • Blue Web'n Learning Applications Library
  • KIDS is a model Internet project for other K-12 students because it is student-driven. Students determined the selection guideline criteria. Students decided on the name for the publication and have input on the graphics and fonts used in each issue. Students also select the sites that they evaluate and write the annotations in their own words.
  • Students collaborated with other students from different ages, backgrounds and states, in addition to students from their own classroom, to create KIDS.
  • KIDS provides an innovative and unique resource to the K-12 community. An archive of quality, annotated sites, built by students in K-12 classrooms using their own criteria, is now available on the Web.
  • Positive responses from young people, teachers and other readers tell us that KIDS is on the right track.


From Canadian Museum Webmaster...
"I was gratified to find the criteria on which students are being asked to judge sites are pretty much the same criteria I apply in creating Web modules."
From a parent in Edmonton, Alberta Canada...
"WOW! I was looking for an informative and creative way to get my children and their friends interested in the Internet. Your pages are terrific!"
From a librarian in Santa Rosa, CA...
" I'm writing to request permission to reproduce and distribute a screen printout of your site and a copy of your selection guidelines. I've looked at a number of evaluation checklists, and I think yours is one of the best around."
From a teacher in Alexandria, VA...
"The Information y'all provided will be a great source for our solar system unit next fall. You did a super job."
From a first grade teacher in Loogootee, IN...
"What a great Internet project! I've created a link to your Web site."
From a Principal in Nova Scotia, Canada...
"Boy, am I impressed! You have done teachers and students everywhere a great service by choosing sites that kids like and that are still educationally relevant. I am impressed with the quality of the reviews."
From a Project Developer at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC...
"We came to basically the same conclusions as you have regarding what we want our pages to be like. Keep up the good work."

Key factors of success

  • K12 students who, like students everywhere, meet and exceed authentic learning challenges when given the opportunity.
  • Dedicated teachers who commit themselves and their time to creating meaningful experiences for students and who are not afraid to let these students take the lead.
  • District administrators with a vision of what could be and with a belief in the capabilities and resourcefulness of K-12 students as creators of knowledge.
  • Users who want good-quality K-12 Internet resources.
  • Access to an established Internet resource model: the Scout Report.
  • Users can subscribe to the KIDS Report to have it e-mailed to them each time it is published and/or they can visit the Web site for current and past publications. Most of the publications are theme-related. Visitors can browse the issue titles and select the titles that interest them.
  • Users can choose to search the current and past issues of the KIDS Report.

Future plans

  • To continue to provide an opportunity for students in the five participating K-12 classrooms to build this valuable Internet resource and to house the archives of this resource.
  • To increase outreach efforts to the K-12 community about KIDS as a model for how to use the Internet in the classroom to enhance learning.
  • To promote staff and student technology development, Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) has adopted the KIDS Report as a model. They have designed a staff development course, Order Out of Chaos: Evaluating and Annotating Internet Resources, in which students and teachers are invited to work together to develop skills in searching, previewing, evaluating and annotating Internet resources. Annotations are published on the MMSD Web site. Resources are selected based upon the established KIDS Report site selection guidelines for design features, ease of use, content, and credibility.
  • Students, who participate and complete the "Order Out of Chaos" course, have finished the first of two phases toward qualifying to participate in Project SMART. The second phase involves a mentoring workshop to learn teaching techniques. Project SMART (Student Mentors Assisting Receptive Teachers) is a part of a Challenge Grant, Generation WHY, which is focused on developing students to become mentors for teachers. Students are matched up with teacher who has requested assistance and are compensated for their time and work in mentoring teachers.


  1. KIDS Report
  2. Selection Criteria
  3. Current Issue
  4. Archived Issues
  5. Search
  6. Subscribe
  7. Scout Report

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