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Research Skills: Google Search

Do your students suck at research? Do they just copy and paste? Can they find information on their own or do they all just end up at Wikipedia and cite Google Search as a source? Can they use text features or find an actual book?

Once upon a time the librarian at your school would teach everyone how to use the card catalog, the index and the location of the set of encyclopedias. Those days are gone, but don’t forget-if you are lucky enough to still have a librarian at your school-they can be a wonderful resource for research materials.

We don’t have a librarian in our school anymore and we’ve noticed the difficulty students have with doing research. It’s challenging to find material at their reading level and they really have no idea where to start to look for materials.

We created small tasks to help students get better at finding exact information. In our classroom we often call these challenged scavenger hunts. We create a question of the day and ask students to try to find the information. This question is a clear, simple, “find one piece of information” type question. Most of the time the answer to this question can be found without entering any web pages because it’s shown in the snippet.

Our school library is very small and outdated, so our first line of attack in research usually starts online, but we noticed students don’t really know how to search for school related topics. We needed to teach students some basics of Google Search to help speed up their efficiency and accuracy of information.

The Omnibox: This is where you type your search topic. Yes, you can type a question and often this will get you a result. It can be the exact question from the challenge: What is the capital city of Alberta? You can also use keywords: Alberta capital city. You can ask for a calculation: 2+2= (and yes, it will give you the answer).

Search Tools: By clicking on the search tools, researchers can organize materials by date, country, language and all kinds of other preferences to find materials that are more suited.

Snippets: Teach students to read through the snippets on the first page of searches to see if they are close. If they are not, they will need to refine their search terms. If they are, show them how ads appear differently than web pages. Show students how businesses appear differently that organizations. This information can help students narrow down their search.

Looking for quick and easy ways for students to practice their online search skills?
A Google a Day: Students can try out Google’s challenge. There’s a new one all the time!
Scavenger Hunts: We’ve created some challenges for students to use their search skills as well as mapping, books and atlases.
Canadian Geography Scavenger Hunt
Alberta Scavenger Hunt
British Columbia Scavenger Hunt

What skills do you think students need to practice when searching online? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Love the Ninjas

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