Showing posts with label Search Methods. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Search Methods. Show all posts

Monday, August 22, 2022

Searching is a Thinking Skill

Have you ever had a conversation with a student that went like this?

Student: “Mr. Byrne, Google has nothing on my topic.”

Mr. Byrne: “What is your topic?”

Student: “The Civil War.”

Mr. Byrne: “Are you sure that Google has nothing about the Civil War?”

Student: “Well I looked at a bunch of links, but they didn’t say anything about what I was looking for.”

If you have had a conversation like the one above then you have experienced one of the flaws of the digital native concept. Yes, most students today do know how to navigate to Google.com and enter a search term. But that just proves that they can remember a web address and use a keyboard. Increasingly, due to the proliferation of voice commands on mobile phones, it doesn’t even mean that they can use keyboards. Typing or speaking a query into a search engine isn’t difficult. Knowing which terms to type, which type of resources to search for, and how to discern the good from the bad are the skills that search requires.

Those of us who grew up without ubiquitous access to the Internet remember searching through libraries to find one good book on the topic we were researching. Then diving into the bibliography to hopefully find more resources that we could track down through an interlibrary loan or by making phone calls and driving to libraries far away to find a good reference. The process was long in part because of the time it took to locate resources. And it was long due to the fact that when we did find good resources, we pored over them to squeeze everything we could from them. Whether we knew it or not, the length of the process was good for us as it provided more time for thinking, asking more questions, and analyzing what we did know. Unfortunately, all three of those things are often shortcut by students when they rely on just typing things into Google.

Researching is a thinking skill. It requires that the student first state what it is he or she is trying to determine. Without a clear purpose for the research, students will simply click around the web hoping to find “something useful.” That’s why years ago I developed a pre-search checklist for students to complete before embarking on a research project. A copy of that pre-search checklist is available for free at http://bit.ly/presearch17.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Thank Your School Librarians! And Ask Them for Help!

While looking at the Kikori SEL calendar I noticed that today is National School Librarian Day! Many of you who read this blog are school librarians, thank you! Thank you for the work that you do in schools to help students (and staff) become better researchers, discover new and exciting books, and generally just being awesome! 

Ask Your School Librarian!

"Ask your school librarian" is one of the things that I say at the start of any presentation that I give or course that I teach about search strategies. Why? Because your school librarian is an expert on search methods. Additionally, your school librarian can give you and your students access to many subscription-based databases that your students would otherwise not know about and or would avoid because they didn't know how to access those databases. 

Go to a Library Conference

For those of you who are not librarians, here's something you should know. I've had the pleasure to speak at many library conferences over the last decade. Without exception they are always fantastic and fun learning experiences. If you get a chance to go to library conference, take it. You will learn something that can apply to any classroom. Personally, I was excited to learn that the CASL-CECA conference is returning this fall (thanks to Emil for that news). 

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

LOC Mystery Photo Contest - A Good Test of Search Strategies

At about this time last year the Library of Congress hosted a mystery photo contest. They're hosting another one right now. Just like last year's contest the challenge is to identify the people in twelve pictures pulled from the library's moving image section. Before you say, "just do a reverse image search" you should know that the LOC has already done that and not found any matches. That's what makes this contest so difficult. Just like last year's contest, this year's LOC Mystery Photo Contest doesn't offer any real prizes other than the satisfaction of being right.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for a difficult search challenge activity to use with your students, the LOC's Who Am I? Mystery Photo Contest could be just what you need. Students will have to string together as many clues as possible in order to get to arrive at an answer.

On a related note, Dan Russell's The Joy of Search is a must-read for anyone who wants to get better at using advanced search methods. I also offer course on teaching search strategies to students. You can access that course here