A big part of my job is having conversations with teachers about ideas they have for their classrooms. I recently had a conversation with a teacher who wanted to know what would be a safe search engine for her students. This teacher was asking with the best of intentions - wanting to do what she can to protect her students. I completely understand her thinking, but I challenged her idea of using a "kid safe engine". Instead, I proposed this ... we spend the same time teaching her students how to perform "better" searches on the search engine we all know they will use tomorrow and for years in the future. She agreed, and I agreed to join this conversation with her students.
Research is an important skill that is taught in some way at each grade level. At younger grades, it could be using books and other print material to find information about Presidents or animals. At older grades it could involve researching hybrid cars or causes of the Civil War. I've seen my 7th/8th grade students only doing basic searches. I've seen my own daughters coming home with projects and would have very little direct instruction on how to research.
Teaching students how to do better internet searches can be a very valuable lesson ... and one well worth the time. Imagine if we can teach our students how to limit the millions of results? Imagine if we can teach them how to filter out some of the 'noise'? Imagine if we can teach them how to use the built in tools to narrow their results even further? Imagine if we teach our students how to search so that it doesn't matter if they are researching an animal or historical person or event or even a disease?
How about we take 30 minutes and give students - of all ages - some direct instruction and practice? Practicing good searching skills can pay off just like practicing math facts or collaboration or reading. And if we, the teachers, provide time to learn some solid search strategies, it tells our students we value good search skills and we want our students to find better information.
There are 6 basic search tips, along with 4 advanced tips.
The link to this presentation is "Better Google Searching ... for kids!".
Feel free to use it in your class "as is" OR make your own copy of it.
Next time, I'll be back with how to filter out even more once you've done your search. This is the next step in researching online. Your search terms are important, but once you've done this, we'll look at how to find better results from this point. And rounding it out, the 3rd part will focus on helping students to cite their work once they've found the sources they are wanting to use.
I've also gathered several resources in my Google Chrome Wakelet collection.
Have a question or comment? Feel free to comment below, reach out to me on Twitter @kiefersj, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.