Showing posts with label teaching search. Show all posts
Showing posts with label teaching search. Show all posts

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Search Strategies Students Need to Know - A New Practical Ed Tech Course

A couple of weeks ago I hosted a live Practical Ed Tech webinar titled Search Strategies Students Need to Know! I've now taken the content and concepts of that webinar and broken into a self-paced mini course.

Search Strategies Students Need to Know contains ten self-paced modules, templates for helping students conduct better online research, and materials for developing search practice activities for your students.

Course highlights include:
  • Search refinement strategies and tools for all students.
  • Alternatives to Google search.
  • How to save and organize search results.
  • Developing your own school-safe search engine.
Course materials include templates that you can use and modify for your needs.
  • Creating search challenges for students
  • Pre-search checklists for students
  • Paired search activities for students
  • Research documentation templates
What's included in your registration?
  • Ten self-paced modules.
    • Each module will take ten to twenty minutes to complete.
  • Templates and handouts to download.
  • Direct access to me for Q&A.
  • Certificate of completion.


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Three Ideas for Encouraging Students to do Research in Digital Archives

Yesterday morning I wrote about the challenge of getting students to use resources like academic databases and digital archives in their research. This morning I received an email from a reader who asked if I could share an example or ideas of how to encourage students to use digital archives in their research. The following are three suggestions that quickly came to my mind. 

Show Them
A simple way to encourage use of academic databases and digital archives is by showing them how to navigate those resources. For many students the obstacle to using academic databases and digital archives is simply the frustration that they experience when “it doesn’t work like Google.”

Challenge Them
A fun and effective way to encourage students to use academic databases and digital archives is to have them solve search challenges that are based upon items found in the digital archive or academic database of your choosing. When it comes to creating search challenges there is no better authority on the topic than Daniel Russell. He is the the author of The Joy of Search and Google’s Senior Research Scientist for Search Quality and User Happiness. His book and corresponding blog, SearchResearch, is full of examples of using interesting images and factoids as prompts for research practice challenges. Included below is an example of a search challenge that I created for students studying local history in Maine.

            The Prompt: Everyone knows that Hannibal Hamlin (Abraham Lincoln’s first Vice President) lived on Paris Hill in Maine. What you might not know is that Paris Hill was the home of another person who participated in a notable first.

        Your challenge has three parts:
  • Identify the significance of the airplane pictured below.
  • What is the connection between the airplane and Paris Hill?
  • Find out what kind of car was driven by the person who represents the connection between the airplane and Paris Hill.
        Hints:
  • Make or find a list of all of the people who flew on this airplane.
  • Utilize resources on the Maine Memory Network website to attempt to identify the type of car driven by the person who represents the connection between the airplane and Paris Hill.

Require Them
A third tactic to encourage students to utilize an academic database or digital archive in their research processes is to make it a requirement in the assignments that you give them. When they produce the bibliography for their research papers and presentations, make it a requirement that at least one or more references are drawn from one of the databases or archives that you’ve listed for them. While this can be an effective method of getting students to use academic databases, it’s not nearly as fun for you or them as solving search challenges. Try the search challenge approach first.


Want the answers? If you're interested in the answers to this challenge, please send me an email and I'll be happy to share them with you. 

Image source: Public Domain image hosted on Wikipedia. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:StateLibQld_1_139254_Landing_the_aircraft,_Southern_Cross_in_Brisbane,_Queensland,_ca._1928.jpg

Monday, May 4, 2020

Three Search Refinement Tools Every Student Should Know How to Use

Search is something that everyone knows how to do as an act of typing or speaking a query. Unfortunately, too many students never get beyond the first few pages of Google search results before changing their search terms or giving up and declaring "Google has nothing on this!" Oftentimes just using a couple of search refinement tools can show students new results that they otherwise would not see.

In the following video I demonstrate and explain why students should know how to refine search results by file type, by date, and by domain.


Enroll in the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp to learn more about search and teaching search strategies.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Two Image-based Search Challenges to Use With Your Students

One of my favorite ways to reinforce the use of good search strategies to students is to show interesting pictures and have students try to make a long list of questions about what they see. Then I let the students try to find the answers to those questions. When they get stuck, I intervene to remind them of one of the search strategies that they have been taught. The other method that I use is to give students a bit of an image-based riddle to solve through the use of the search strategies that they have learned. Outlines of both types of challenges are included below. (Feel free to use the images, just give me credit for them).

Challenge #1 - The Big Truck!
I like to use this one with elementary school and middle school students. I display the following picture in the front of the room then ask students to ask any questions that they have about it. A lot of students will ask things like, “is that real,” “how big is it,” and “can I drive it?” All of those questions above can be answered by using various search strategies and tools. Using the "similar images search" in Google Images will help you answer these questions. Google Maps Street View will help you answer the questions too. And while not essential to answering the questions, refining your search to a specific top-level domain could help too.



Challenge #2 - The Camel!
This is a challenge for middle school, high school, and college students. It involves a bit of geography, geology, and folklore.

Step 1: Take a look at the following pictures.





2. Find the camel in the second picture. (Hint: it’s the outline of a camel you’re looking for, not an actual camel).
3. The search challenge is to find out which mythological person rode that camel.
4. Identify the connections between the camel and the shoe.
5. Explain how the camel in the picture was actually formed.

The Explanation of the Camel Challenge
1. The camel is outlined in the picture below.



2. Students need to think about mythology beyond the usual Greek mythology that they tend to default to. The picture should give students a clue or two that this "camel" isn't in a typical environment for a myth or folklore involving a camel. They should rule out stories that center on a camel in a desert environment. Eliminating those stories will narrow the list of possibilities.

The camel is actually at the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.

3. Once students figure out where the camel is located, they should be able to discover that the camel is part of the story of Finn McCool (also written as Fionn MacCoul or Fionn mac Cumhaill).

4. The shoe is representative of Finn McCool's shoe that, according to the folklore, he lost while fleeing from the wrath of Scottish giant, Benandonner.

5. The camel is actually a basaltic dyke.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Lessons to Help You and Your Students Become Better Researchers

If you're looking to improve your search skills this summer or you want to find new ideas for teaching search skills, check out Power Searching With Google. Power Searching With Google was hosted by Google back in 2012. With the exception of the live Hangouts on Air that were held during the course, all of the course content is still available. There are six modules within the course. Each module has three to six sections. Each section has a video and a practice activity to try.

The video lessons within Power Searching With Google feature Google employees Dan Russell and or Matt Cutts (no longer a Google employee) explaining how each power search concept can be used. The video from lesson 3.1 is embedded below.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Vocabulary Lists Could Help Your Students Conduct Better Searches

As I mentioned in a video posted earlier today, I have been doing some research about how students search. Specifically, they're search habits and how those habits influence outcome of their searches. It's quite fascinating even if much of what I'm reading is rather dry data crunching.

One of the research reports that I read this morning was Characterizing the Influence ofDomain Expertise on Web Search Behavior (link opens PDF) written by White, Dumais, and Teevan at Microsoft Research. They found that domain experts (domain referring to subject matter) conducted searches with more branchiness than non-experts.
Branchiness is defined as "the number of re-visits to previous pages in the session that were then followed by a forward motion to a previously unvisited page in the session."
Furthermore, the search sessions of domain experts consistently include more pages, more queries, and more overall time.

The findings of White, Dumais, and Teevan were consistent with findings of previous researchers on the topic including Ingrid Hsieh-Yee who is cited by White, Dumais, and Teevan. In 1993 Ingrid Hsieh-Yee found that students used more of their own search terms and less of external suggestions when researching topics for which they had prior expert knowledge.

What's this mean for teachers and students?
It would be unfair to expect students to be "experts" before conducting a web search. However, it might be worth having students develop a bit more prior knowledge of a topic before turning them loose to search the web for information about that topic. This might be done through reading materials provided by the teacher. It might also be done through mastering some vocabulary terms before embarking on a search. Increased prior knowledge could lead students to have more branchiness is their search habits.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Simple, Effective Search Challenge Lessons

One of my favorite ways to reinforce the use of good search strategies to students is to show interesting pictures and have students try to make a long list of questions about what they see. Then I let the students try to find the answers to those questions. When they get stuck, I intervene to remind them of one of the search strategies that they have been taught. (Google's search education page has great lesson plans for teaching core search strategies).

Creating image-based search challenges:
1. Locate three public domain or Creative Commons licensed pictures to use as search prompts. If you have pictures of your own that you want to use, that’s okay too.
2. In Google Slides create a list of questions that your students might ask about the image. Put one question on each slide.
3. Arrange the slides in order of difficulty. On each slide give a search hint in the speaker notes.
4. Publish your search challenge activity and share the link in this form.

My "Big Truck" example:
Some of the most common questions that are asked when I show this picture to students or adults.
Where was this picture taken?
How big is the truck?
How much fuel does the truck consume?
How big are the tires?

All four of the questions above can be answered by using various search strategies and tools. Using the "similar images search" in Google Images will help you answer these questions. Google Maps Street View will help you answer the questions too. And while not essential to answering the questions, refining your search to a specific top-level domain could help too.

How to help students become better researchers is one of the topics covered in depth at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps

Saturday, May 28, 2016

What Connects These Things? - A Search Lesson

Dan Russell has provided the inspiration for many of the web research lessons that I have conducted with students over the years. Every week he posts an interesting search challenge for readers then provides the answers a few days later. The challenges vary in difficulty, but I always learn something from them regardless of how difficult they are. This week he posted a challenge called What's In Common?

The What's In Common? challenge asks you to identify the shared characteristics of two or more pictures, events, and or scenarios. In Dan's post this week he asked readers to find the commonalities between three floods and he asked readers to find the commonalities between three plants.
What do these two have in common besides being dogs?
Applications for Education
What I like about the What's In Common? challenge is that I can make it as easy or as difficult as I need it to be based on my students' current skill levels. For example, I might make one challenge based on reading the content of webpages that students find while searching and make another challenge based on being able to discover and use the meta data in images.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Hardest Type of Web Search for Students

There are three basic types of searches that students conduct on the Internet. Those types of searches are navigational, transactional, and informational. Navigational searches are conducted to find something specific like a website or physical location. Transactional searches are conducted for the purpose of trying to purchase something. Informational searches are conducted to discover information about a topic. Of these three types of searches informational searches are the ones that students struggle with the most.

Five strategies that help students conduct better informational searches.
1. Create a list of things that you already know about the topic. This helps students pick better keywords and helps them more quickly identify information that may not be relevant to their searches.

2. Develop of list of ways that other people might talk about your topic. I will let students poll their peers for ideas about how they would describe the topic.

3. Search by file type. A lot of good information is hidden way inside of PDFs, Word files, KML files, PowerPoint, and spreadsheet files. Unfortunately, those file types generally don't rank high in commercial search engines so students will need to search by file type to find those files.

4. Try a different search engine. Contrary to what a lot of students think, Google is not the only search engine. Your school library probably has a subscription to a database or two that students can search within and find resources that a Google search won't find. Students can also try Google Scholar, Google Books, Bing, Choosito, or Yahoo.

5. Search within webpages and documents for clues that can help you form your next set of search terms. As they read through webpages and documents students should be taking note of things like how the author is describing a topic. Students can then use that description to help them form their next search queries.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Top Tips for Teaching Search Strategies - Free Webinar Tomorrow

Tomorrow at 4pm Eastern Time I will be leading a free webinar on the topic of teaching search strategies to students. The webinar, sponsored by Choosito, will feature strategies that can be used by students across a number of search engines. Part of the webinar will also include an overview of the aspects of Choosito that make it unique compared to other search engines. Registration space is limited.

The webinar will be recorded. The recording of the webinar will be posted on Free Technology for Teachers on Friday morning. You do not need to contact me to get access to the recording.

About Choosito:
Choosito is a search engine that offers a reading level index for its search results. When you search on Choosito you can select to refine results to reading levels marked as Early Readers, Emerging Readers, Fluent Readers, or Advanced Readers. In addition to reading level refinement Choosito offers an option to sort results by subject area. Choosito's basic search tools including the reading level and subject area filters are available to use for free.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

My Favorite Internet Search Tips for Teachers & Students

Whether you teach students who are ten years old or forty years old there will be times when they turn to you and say, "I can't find anything about this" while they are researching. In most cases the problem isn't that the Internet doesn't hold any information for them. Rather, the problem is that students don't know enough strategies to help them dive deeper in their Internet research. In the slides embedded below I share my favorite search tips. The slides include some videos that demonstrate how to use the methods I've mentioned.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

10 Important Google Search Strategies for Students - A PDF Handout

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in June, 2015.

Last summer the folks at Canva were kind enough to create a great infographic for me based on a set of search tips that I sent to them. The infographic makes a great poster to display in your classroom, but it is a little light on the details of how and why to use some of the search strategies. The PDF embedded below provides more detail on the search strategies that I frequently share with teachers and students.


Click here if you cannot see the embedded PDF.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Fake or Real? - A Fun Google Search Challenge

Over the years I've written quite a bit Dan Russell's work and the concept of using images as the basis of web search challenge activities for students. Last month, Dr. Russell posted another fun search challenge that could be completed by middle school and high school students. That challenge is called Real or Fake? You can read the challenge set-up here and the solutions here.

There are three parts to the Real or Fake challenge. In the first part students have to decide if a picture is real or fake. The second part of the challenge asks students to determine the validity of a Trip Advisor review. The third aspect of the challenge tasks students with determining the authenticity of quotes posted in social media memes.

Applications for Education
The thing that I like most about the Real or Fake challenge is that the emphasis is on critical thinking and not on technical tricks or deep knowledge or search engine operators. If they take time to evaluate the information in front of them and think critically about it, most middle school and high school students should be able to solve the three Real or Fake challenge activities.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

How to Refine a Google Search By Domain

One of the overlooked search strategies that I often share with students and their teachers is refining their search results by domain. Doing this is rather easy, but it's a strategy that is often overlooked by students and teachers. In the video below I provide a demonstration of how to refine Google search results according to domain.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Geography, Geology, a Myth, and a Search Challenge

Over the years I've written a bunch of posts about creating search challenges for students (find three here, here, and here). I like to use image-based search challenges as a way to introduce students to a variety of search strategies and tools. The latest search challenge that I've developed involves a bit of geography, geology, and folklore.

The challenge set-up.
1. I share the following two pictures.


2. I ask students to find the camel in the second picture.
3. The search challenge is to find out which mythological person rode that camel.
4. Students are asked to identify the connections between the camel and the shoe.
5. Students have to explain how the camel in the picture was actually formed.

The challenge explanation.
If you want to use this challenge with your students, feel free to do so. Click on the pictures to enlarge them and then download them in full size.

1. The camel is outlined in the picture below.

2. Students need to think about mythology beyond the usual Greek mythology that they tend to default to. The picture should give students a clue or two that this "camel" isn't in a typical environment for a myth or folklore involving a camel. They should rule out stories that center on a camel in a desert environment. Eliminating those stories will narrow the list of possibilities.

The camel is actually at the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.

3. Once students figure out where the camel is located, they should be able to discover that the camel is part of the story of Finn McCool (also written as Fionn MacCoul or Fionn mac Cumhaill).

4. The shoe is representative of Finn McCool's shoe that, according to the folklore, he lost while fleeing from the wrath of Scottish giant, Benandonner.

5. The camel is actually a basaltic dyke.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How to Search for Publicly Shared Google Docs, Slides, and Spreadsheets

Searching by file type and searching by domains is a great way for students to refine their Google searches. Searching for and within a DOC, a PPT, or XLS file can lead students to resources that they might not otherwise have seen. But increasingly a lot of us are creating our documents, slides, and spreadsheets in Google Drive. Many of us are then publishing those files for anyone in the world to see. Thanks to the Google for Education Google+ page, today I was reminded that you can perform a Google search to look for publicly shared Docs, Slides, and Spreadsheets. The screenshots below illustrate how to do this.

To search for a public Google Document: enter site:docs.google.com after your search term.
Click image to view full size.

To search for a public Google Slides presentation: enter site:docs.google.com/presentation/ after your search term.
Click image to view full size.
To search for a public Google Drive Spreadsheet: enter site:docs.google.com/spreadsheets/ after your search term.
Click image to view full size.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Google Search Tip - Use the Dialect of the Community

In a few weeks I will be flying to Australia to speak at the Future Schools Expo in Sydney. This will be the first time I have flown to Australia. Since Sydney is just about as far away from Portland, Maine as I could go and stay in the planet, I did a bit of research to find the most comfortable (by relative airline standards) plane and seat to choose to fly to Australia. (Yes, I realize that is the definition of first world problem).

To do my research I turned to the message board community on FlyerTalk.com (it's kind of like Consumer Reports meets Trip Advisor for airlines). Once it was determined that I would be flying Qantas (I didn't have much choice on that matter) from Dallas to Sydney I set out to see what people were saying about seats on the A380 that flies on that route. I started out using the name Dallas in my search, but I didn't see nearly as many posts on the topic as I had hoped. Further, the posts that I did find were written by people who had made relatively few contributions to the community. After reading some not-so-helpful post I realized that most frequent contributors to the community don't actually spell out full city names. Instead, they use airport abbreviation codes like DFW when writing about Dallas. As soon as I switched out Dallas and for DFW in my search I found a lot more posts from frequent contributors to the FlyerTalk community.

How this applies to students:
A few years ago I heard my friend Tom Daccord at EdTechTeacher.org (an advertiser on this blog) give an example of social studies students researching films of the early 20th Century. In his example Tom mentioned that the students who insisted on using the term "movies" in their searches didn't get nearly as far as those who used terms like "talkies," "moving pictures," and "cinema." This was due to the fact that "movies" wasn't a part of the common dialect of film critics in the early 20th Century.

For students to understand the dialect of the topics that they are researching, they will have to do some prior reading and learning on the topic. One thing that I've asked students to do when reading primary sources that I've distributed to them is to highlight or write down the terms and phrases that are new to them. Often those highlighted terms and phrases often end up being a huge asset to them when they are trying to choose the best terms to use in Google searches.

By the way, if you copy and paste a primary document into Google Docs then share it with students, it is very easy for them to highlight new-to-them phrases and for you to see what they've highlighted. That is one of the activities that I model in my online course Getting Going With GAFE.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Handy Sheet of Google Search Modifiers

Back in August I shared an infographic featuring search strategies that every student can use. Yesterday, Vicki Davis posted a great companion to that infographic. Vicki shared this Google Search Modifiers Poster (link opens a PDF). Many of the modifiers featured in the poster can also be used by opening the advanced search menu in Google and making search choices.  

Applications for Education
The infographic and the search modifiers poster together make a good set of reminders for students. Print them out and post them in your library, computer lab, or classroom.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Why Word Order Matters in Google Searches

Google's Search Anthropologist Daniel Russell recently shared a short video demonstrating why word order matters when formulating your search terms. In the two minute video we learn how and why reversing word order can affect the outcome of your search. The video is embedded below.


Applications for Education
Add the information from the video above to this list of 10 Google search tips and you will have the basis for a nice lesson on how to search.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Watch This Video Then Choose Better Search Terms

Wes Fryer just published a blog post about a Google Search tips presentation given by Lucy Gray. Included in Wes's post he included this seven minute video of a conversation between Dan Russell (Google's Search Anthropologist) and Udi Manbar (VP of Engineering at Google) about strategies for formulating better Google searches.

Applications for Education
Every week Dan Russell publishes a search challenge on his blog that requires you to use some of the strategies that he and Udi discuss in the video above. Watch the video above then try some of Dan's challenges with your students.