January 2014: Start Them Off Self-Directed

As you begin the new year, perhaps you are reflecting on changes you would like to make in the second half of the school year, like helping your students develop independence and self-direction. Here are a few questions you might ask yourself:

  • Are my students able to discover information in an effective manner?
  • Are my students able to access help resources to understand information, after they have discovered it?
  • Are my students able to think critically about the information they have discovered?

icurio supports self-directed learners to…


–> Sharpen their research skills as they find more effective and relevant resources

Empower your students to find information that is more closely aligned to the work they are trying to get done. Curious?

  • Subject Navigator

    In icurio, resources are organized by school subjects. One way students can target a search is by drilling through subjects, topics and subtopics that best describe or define the concepts or subjects they are looking for. Use the Subject Navigator for this type of search. The Subject Navigator is one of the three exploration tools accessible from the Discover home page.

  • More Search Options

    icurio enables students to refine a search based on: curricular subject, source type (encyclopedia, government, museums, non-profit organizations, etc.), rating, readability, multimedia type (audio, video, interactive, etc.), learning aids (formulas, maps, learning games, etc.), collections, and language. With More Search Options, students can also add or exclude words or phrases from their search.

  • Did You Mean?

    At the top of each icurio Learning Content results page, you will often find a Did You Mean? list. The words or phrases in this list may be useful if your students aren’t certain about the spelling of a search term or are looking for related search terms.


–> Evaluate the resources they find, enabling them to become expert consumers of content

Help students evaluate the resources they find in icurio, enabling them to become expert consumers of digital content. Curious?

Each resource in icurio has a summary of relevant information associated with it, called Content Details, that can help students determine the value of that resource as it relates to their individual needs.

Have your students click on View Content Details below any resources on the Learning Content results page.

  • Author/Publisher/Source Type

    The Author/Publisher field provides the name of the entity that has authored or given access to the site. One way to help validate the reliability of a site’s information is to identify the Source Type (which is listed below the Author/Publisher). For example, sites might originate from governmental agencies, colleges or universities, businesses, non-profit organizations or individuals. This information helps students understand the point of view of the site.

  • Resource Ratings

    These ratings are determined by the educator/evaluator who assessed this resource. All results can be sorted by their overall rating in a Learning Content results page, click here to see how to sort results.

  • Student/Teacher Recommended

    Through the voting process, teachers and students can recommend resources they find especially useful.

    If a site has been recommended by either a teacher or a student, that recognition will be noted to the right of the resource in the Learning Content results list as well as in the Content Details screen for each resource. All results can be sorted by student or teacher recommendations , click here to see how.


–> Understand their own learning preferences as they experience various ways to learn

Help students understand their own learning preferences as they experience various ways to learn. Curious?

As students gain a better understanding of how they learn, they also gain the ability to make better choices about the types of resources they use and they will be able to find more meaningful avenues of assistance to help them comprehend the information.

  • Narrowing Results

    In icurio, the ability to Narrow Results gives students more choices about the specific types of content they wish to see. Students will see menus at the side of any Learning Content results page. These menus make it possible to narrow results by choosing any of the available options, such as quotations, games, maps, video or resources in Spanish.

  • Readability

    Readability is a measure of the relative difficulty of reading written text, usually reported as a numerical value keyed either to a grade level or to a point scale. If students know their reading level, they can easily choose resources that are aligned to that level using the icurio readability score scale. Click

    here to see how.


–> Strengthen their comprehension skills as they interact with icurio’s flexible digital content and tools

Help students evaluate the resources they find in icurio, enabling them to become expert consumers of digital content. Curious?

  • Read Aloud
    The Read Aloud feature in icurio provides text-to-speech functions for all text information in icurio learning content. Students can highlight any text passage withing a resource and they will be able to hear the text read aloud through their computer speakers or headphones. This allows students to hear content that may be more difficult for them to read and/or less engaging in text format. The text-to-speech function also allows students to decide when they need assistance, and it provides privacy for them as they get the help they need while reading (when combined with headphones). The Read Aloud function can be activated from the frame above a website that students have accessed from a Learning Content result.

    When students want to hear text read out loud to them, all they need to do is highlight the text. There is no software to download, and no additional assistance from the teacher is required.

  • Dictionary/Translation Tool

    icurio provides a robust dictionary students can use to find definitions of words they do not understand. Students can also translate words from English to another language, such as Spanish or German. The dictionary is easily activated from the frame above a website that students have accessed from a Learning Content result.


When your students are self-directed, it frees you up to focus on identifying individual needs so you can personalize learning for every student. Partner with your students by enabling them to drive more of their own learning, and you will enhance their ability to succeed in future college and career endeavors. Work together with your self-directed learners to discover new approaches to learning and increase the “fun factor” in your classroom.

Review the Basics in icurio

In case you are curious about how icurio works and would like a refresher, you can watch our video tutorial, Quickly Find Content and Activities to review the basics.



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