Do you know how to Google? Yes, yes, I’m sure all of you are thinking, “Yeah, all you have to do is go to Google and type in what you want. Duh.”
Well that’s what I thought, too! Dear, sweet Jennifer Beine over at my November Learning workshop definitely changed my mind, though! (AND, changed my mind on how to TEACH my kiddos to “search” the web!)
So here are a few, quick, “did ya know”s:
1. There is an operator in Google. Yes, just like for phones. The Google operator can aid in all of your searches! Just type “site:” and it will help pull up the most relevant sites. Pretty neat.
2. There are Country Codes for the internet. I never knew that! So, any site outside of the U.S. has a 2 letter code. For example, England’s is “uk”. Furthering that example, if you needed help locating schools in England, you could use the Google operator and search “site: sch.uk”. This will pull up VERY different sites than if you just “googled” “schools in England”. Very cool.
Okay, okay. Now you’re probably thinking what this has to do with teaching elementary school. (To tell you the truth, after my initial amazement with these things, I was wondering that, too!) Well, here’s the deal! Just like I posted earlier about teaching our kiddos critical thinking skills on the internet, we also need to teach our students HOW TO SEARCH online! I’m sure if we asked, most of our students (even the young ‘uns) would say they knew how to “google” something. BUT, the chances of them getting the EXACT info the want/need the first time is probably pretty slim! (And I know you and I are good at “skimming” the blurbs on Google to see if that’s the site we need, but I know my students are not!)
So, again, dear sweet Jennifer Beine shared some neat tools with me that I’d love to share with you! (By the way, if you click on over to her site, she has LOTS of info there that is SO helpful and informative to teachers!)
-First thing she shared is the Google Advanced Search. I’m somewhat ashamed, but I’ll admit, I’ve never really used it before this past week. After playing around with it, though, I can see HOW helpful it can be to our older students. Keyword, though…OLDER. I doubt my 2nd graders could make good use out of this site, but who knows…maybe after lots of whole group practice and modeling, they will at least be aware of it!
-So, if the Google Advanced Search is too much, here is MY newest favorite thing to try with my class next year: Boolify! Boolify.org is a kid friendly search site (YES! FOR ELEMENTARY LEVEL KIDS! YAY!). It is interactive and colorful—so what’s NOT to like about it! Students can pull the puzzle pieces over from the left, and the site with prompt them with a question. THEN, as each puzzle piece is added, the results pull up on the bottom of the page!
It automatically changes the results as students’ searches become more specific, so it’s very user-friendly, too! When you have time, go play around on it, because it’s definitely something I could see using in 2nd grade during our Research Project Unit!
-Not impressed with Google Advanced nor Bolify (or want another fun site to try out)? Try NoodleTools! It is a step-by-step questionnaire that helps kiddos know WHERE to START searching. (It may be another site that takes whole group instruction and lots of modeling, though.) I could see it being useful for older students, with time and practice! It gives a few options of sites to help you search after you fill out the questions on what TYPE of info you’re looking for. Definitely a different approach than anything I’ve ever done!
So, it’s clear to see that there are plenty of other options to help us search the internet. And, just like how I shared that we need to teach our students how to “read” the internet, we also need to teach our students how to “search” the internet—because a good search can take half the work out of having to determine if information is legit or not (or even what we NEED!). I’ll admit, I’m guilty of speed searching…typing into Google something quick, hastily scanning the results to see if it’s what I need, and if not, retyping and trying again. Repeat, repeat, repeat. But, why do all that if we can narrow it down to search correctly the first time? This is definitely something I need to teach both MYSELF and my students!