Five Free Websites for Students to Build Research Skills

Finding free Web resources for building research skills is essential for teachers who are on a restricted budget. Teachers can use the Internet to access amazing research resources, thanks to the U.S. government. From finding lesson plans to scanning patent applications, teachers can uncover a wealth of information on history, art, science, language arts, math, health and social studies on the Web.

Here are five highlights of these free research resources:

1. Library of Congress

The U.S. Library of Congress has a page on its website that is tailor-made for teachers who can download classroom materials via primary sources from the library’s vast collection. Educators will discover lesson plans customized to fit the current Common Core State Standards for schools as well as other state and national standards for education. Two examples:

  • A lesson plan titled “The Constitution: Drafting a More Perfect Union.”
  • Presentation resources under the headline “Elections … The American Way.”

2. National Archives

The U.S. National Archives has lesson plans and free eBooks that feature content that is acceptable according to state and national standards. For example, one of the eBooks, “The Meaning and Making of Emancipation,” discusses the Emancipation Proclamation and its significance with American society. The eBook also has photo copies of primary sources via documents housed at the National Archives.

3. U.S. Department of Agriculture

The USDA offers educators a plethora of resources that are useful for creating research skills lessons. Most of the information on the site is geared at the history and application of agriculture in the U.S. There is also information on the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

Educators interested in addressing health and nutrition with their students can find a section focused on food and nutrition resources. Also, publications detailing crop genetics resources and the Journal of the Extension are provided on the website.

4. Federal Resources for Educational Excellence

FREE is another governmental website that provides animations, primary documents, photos and videos that are excellent for educators to use as resources. Subjects include art, music, health, American history and math. The categories are easy to sort as each subject features subtopics along with a number that shows how many resources are offered on that subtopic. For example, under U.S. History, one of the subtopics is Movements. Items available for this subtopic include:

  • Civil rights (43)
  • Women’s history (38)
  • Transportation (28)
  • Immigration and migration (28)

5. National Writing Project

The National Writing Project focuses on improving students’ writing and literacy. There are several resources including professional development resource topics such as:

  • Teacher research/inquiry
  • Teaching reading
  • Research
  • Teaching writing
  • Standards and assessment
  • Being a writer

The site also accepts submissions from students, which is a great resource for promoting publication and exposure for students’ ideas. As the site is focused on encouraging reading and writing, educators can put their ideas related to research skills into action. Students have a place to go to present their works that stem from library research while being in a safe and constructive educational space online.

Educators can find a wide range of free research opportunities online, including websites that don’t require users to sign in or create an online profile. These sites are good places that students can visit to develop their own research skills.

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We are devoted to improving both student and teacher achievement, inside and outside the classroom. Our articles help examine the relationship between what to teach (curriculum) and how to teach (instruction). K-12 teachers will find resources that help foster a deeper learning environment and better student engagement.

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