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Choosito! Supporting kid search, discovery and literacy

With more than a billion websites out there and 100 million new webpages published each days, it’s tough work for a kid to find resources that are both relevant and readable.

Choosito is designed to support K12 learning and information literacy.

Choosito’s Web search may be filtered by reading level and by subject.  The Choosito Library, available through Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 1.41.53 PM the pull-down menu, offers between 150,000 and 200,000 websites curated by professional educators.  An image search is also available.

Researcher Eleni Miltsakaki shares:  What I am trying to build is a digital librarian for personalized learning, a tool that will help in the the same way and answers the question, “How can I find things to help me.”

Dr. Miltsakaki, a linguist, scientist and educator at the University of Pennsylvania, developed Choosito as a multi-year research project.  Supported by a National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research award for education, the project pilots a technologically advanced linguistic analysis engine. The real-time search analyzes Bing’s URLs, extracts content, and runs readability analysis. If a website meets Choosito‘s criteria, it is shown.  The ultimate goal is to present a technology-based solution to address the challenge of finding resources right for children.

The project values the development of information literacy skills and critical thinking, as well as discovery.  Dr. Miltsakaki believes children need experience culling what they need on results lists, exploring points of view, and navigating through the noisy world of search

She shared:

I am not a proponent of blocking. I want students to search in their own index.  Realistically, reliable resources are not the only content student searchers will discover.  I want them to develop the skill of evaluating information.  We include appropriate content, but we do not block user-generated content like blogs and Wikipedia.  Students can search, but they can also choose to browse the reliable content selected in the Library. Few decisions are either good or bad.

Choosito’s Web, Web Search with Filters, and Library Search are free.  Choosito Pro ($20 per year) offers the option of creating collections and a Library Search with filters.  Choosito Class ($40 per year) offers Class Management and Class Analytics tools.

The premium tools offer teachers and teacher librarians a rare lens into exactly how their students search.  Analytics reveal individual searchers’ actual queries.

After testing in classrooms with expert teachers, Dr. Miltsakaki observed that students could recite criteria for evaluation, but seldom applied them.

Analytics revealed that students entered on average 1.5 keywords, for instance, to do a search on energy.  On average, they visit 2.5 sites.  Seeing the opportunity to intervene, a teacher might ask, “What are you trying to learn about energy?  What types of resources are you looking for? Are you looking for multiple points of view?”

Chosito features a user-generated five-star rating system.  Clicking on the thumbs up or down icon in the result list brings up a form allowing users to evaluate sites based on Kathy Schrock’s 5W’s for Web Evaluation.  Users can examine the rating forms of others to see how the sites were evaluated. Users are also invited to add their recommendations to grow the Chosito Library.

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evaluation data

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K-8 librarians, this is a solid strategy for your search toolkit and for helping your kids think a little more strategically about their skills.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Joyce, Thanks for the great review of Choosito! I have been involved as a consultant with this product since its inception. It really does help students think more strategically!

  2. Really enjoyed your review of this website. Would this also be useful for high schoolers? This would be a great gateway for K-8 students. I will pass this info on to the other librarians in the district!


  1. […] I wanted to write a post about OER and the #GoOpen movement, but as so often happens, as soon as I get near Feedly or Twitter, I get distracted and wind up in the rabbit hole for hours. It’s a hazard of a good PLN. Today, my meanderings led me to a fantastic post by Joyce Valenza in the SLJ blog: Choosito! supporting kid search, discovery and literacy. […]

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