Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Think Outside The Search

I recently had the opportunity to attend a Google search class led by Dan Russell at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California. This was actually the second time I'd taken the class, and even though it was held the night before I was to get on a plane to head to the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia, I'm definitely glad I went. I got a lot more out of the class the second time around, perhaps because I was better able to keep up as I already had some background knowledge (hmmm...isn't that what every student needs?)

After an evening of learning, one thing was abundantly clear: we need to teach our students how to search! Do you have students who insist on typing their entire question into the Google search bar? Do they even include the question mark? Or do they just go straight to Wikipedia? [Not that there's anything wrong with a starting point.]

So I'm adding to my summer to-do list creating a lesson or two for my seventh graders on how to search the web. Fortunately, Google already has some lessons created that we can all use as a jumping off point.
You can find more lessons and other goodies on the site that was shared with us during the search class:
And in case you haven't seen these, here are some handouts and posters for your classroom:
Have you seen A Google A Day yet? It might be a great way to encourage students to use better web search skills. Each day Google offers a question that can be researched by students. You could even make it a game where the first student to find the correct answer wins. The trick is to use the best search terms possible. Here are some tips to share with students that I picked up during the Google search class:
  • Before you type anything, think about what you would expect to find on the site you're looking for. Choose keywords that might appear on that site.
  • In choosing keywords to search with, start with the simplest terms. If that doesn't get you the results you were looking for, try using synonyms of your search terms. 
  • Try using specific terms if you know them, but be sure you've got the words right or you could be sending yourself on a wild goose chase.
One of the best tips we can share with our students and with other teachers is how to find a specific term on a long webpage. The Find command will help you quickly find exactly what you need on a page. Try using it on a lengthy Wikipedia page and you'll quickly fall in love with Control-F (PC) or Command-F (Mac)!

As many cool tips as we learned that evening, I think the biggest reaction from the class came when we discovered this:

That's right! You can now search for recipes! Not only that, but you can narrow your search down based on ingredients, cooking time or calorie count.

Move over, Betty Crocker! Here comes Google!!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Nice to know when I go to a class with you, I no longer need to take notes because yours are so good! Thanks.