Effective Internet Searching:  Do you know how? Do your students know how?

How many of us immediately Google something when we are looking for an answer? Is that the most effective thing to do?  When is the last time you, as a classroom teacher, spent classroom time teaching students how to do an effective internet search?  How many of us take for granted young people know how to use a search engine?  Most teachers that I have worked with assume students know how to do research and answer essential questions when in reality, they do not.  The fact of the matter is that many classroom teachers do not. This is a skill we need to master and practice with students.

One of the neatest ways, I think, is to make this into a game and practice daily with your students. There’s a website that helps you do this  www.agoogleaday.com This website provides an opportunity for students to daily tackle a question that can answered by using advanced search techniques.  When the students get stuck it is the perfect opportunity for students to collaborate and use critical thinking skills to derive other methods of finding the answer. These conversations can happen with partners, in small groups and whole class discussions.  Then have the students explain their thought process. Why did they do what they did to get the answer they came up with. Because the site makes a game out of it, students can strive for faster scores and more points. I can become a fun part of their day that they can look forward to.

Spending time on advanced search strategies is vital in today’s connected world.  The Common Core State Standards acknowledge this as there are quite a few Common Core standards that support students conducting Internet research and understanding advanced search techniques.  I have referenced  a few below:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.1.B Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.2.B Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.6 With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.8 Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.7  Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions for further research and investigation.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.6  Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and link to and cite sources as well as to interact and collaborate with others, including linking to and citing sources.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.7 and CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.8  and CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

Not sure how or where to get started with advanced search strategies?  I’d encourage you have a conversation with your Library Media Specialist or invite them into your classroom. They can help guide you and your class in effectively utilizing the many resources the Internet has to offer. Google also has their “Google Power Searching Course” or one of my other favorite resources “Google Guide” are great places to start.  I urge you to add advanced search techniques to your personal professional development and then learn side-by side with your students as you add “A Google A Day” to your daily routines with your students.  Happy searching!

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