Research Tools For Students and Teachers

Anastasia Hanneken

My library has some amazing resources that can be used for research projects.  I know it is tempting to have students get the bulk of their research from Google, and don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing resources out there but it is necessary and important for students to gain exposure to a multitude of resources.  In this blog post, I would like to explore two of my favorite databases:

  • EBSCO Explora

  • SIRS Discoverer

The key to using these resources in my space is our MackinVIA program.  MackinVIA is a program our library uses to house all of our digital materials.  Students are able to easily login using their Google usernames and passwords.  The program includes databases, ebooks, and audiobooks.  Most of the ebooks are available for one user at a time, and can be checked out up to three weeks.  Students and teachers can even download the ebooks, using the MackinVIA app.  This is a fantastic free program and I highly recommend using it.  I wrote a blog post on this program earlier last year.  You can view it here.


EBSCO Explora

EBSCO Explora is a general database that we receive through the New Jersey State Library.  The program is divided into three separate databases including:

  1. Explora For Students (5th/6th grades)
  2. Explora (7th and 8th grades)
  3. Explora for Educators

When researching with your students I recommend option one or three, depending on which grade you choose.

Some of the highlights of this program include:

  • Searching by topic
  • A specific search box
  • The ability to get full-text documents (Magazines, Newspapers, Journals)
  • Students can send an entire article to their Google Drive
  • Ability to limit your search by publication date
  • Ability to limit your search by Lexile range
  • Ability to listen to the article (Text-to-speech)
  • Citation information available, and easy to copy and paste

Here is an excellent tutorial I found on using Explora, created by EBSCO:


SIRS Discoverer

SIRS Discoverer is another wonderful general database, specifically geared towards middle school students.  Our school has chosen to purchase this program, because it is one of the only programs that is available for this level.  You will find that it has many of the same features as Explora, but unlike Explora the articles are more specific to middle school level.

Some of the highlights of this program include:

  • A specific search area
  • Search by topic
  • An Explore Features are which includes:
    • Animal Facts
    • Current Events
    • Pro/Con Leading Issues
    • Country Facts and Maps
    • Nonfiction Books
    • Science Fair Explorer
  • An Advanced Search area
  • Ability to limit search by media
  • Ability to limit search by grade level
  • Ability to limit search by Lexile level
  • Full text articles
  • Ability to send articles to students through Google Classroom
  • Ability for students to save articles to their Google Drive or print
  • Citation information
  • Educator Resources section

Here is a video with more information about using SIRS:

Just recently I was asked to be part of the Proquest (Publishers of SIRS Discoverer) Advisory Board.  This is very much an honor and exciting to be part of decisions they are making with their various databases.

Here is the video of the presentation I put together on MackinVIA and these databases:

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