Research Lesson Series: Part 1

In 2011, I read an interesting article, “Clive Thompson on Why Kids Can’t Search.” The article highlights a habit that I see today in my students. I fondly call it “page one syndrome.”

Clive Thompson’s article delves into the subject of students’ research skills and effects Googling has on those skills. My students’ don’t even click on links anymore. Many of them just read the information box on the right side of “page one” to get an answer. But who teaches the students how to search to learn, or to produce college level research essays?

Clive Thompson’s article states that librarians are at the front lines of this issue. Yet, for many schools, teaching research skills is hit or miss throughout a student’s time at school. The reasons why are varied, but in this series I hope to share a few ideas that you can use in your lessons to strengthen your students’ research skills. Just maybe, together, we can get students past page one.

To start out I want to share my Symbaloo mix: Search Options

I like to provide options for my students, so when it fits into my curriculum, my first step is to share this mix with them. I spend time highlighting the features of a few of the search engines. I then let them explore the search engines on their own with a keyword related to the subject we are studying.

Before I share a few of these sites with you, there is a bit of information I need to tell you. I am a Minnesota Vikings fan. Why do you need to know that? Because I use the keyword “vikings” as I teach my students the different ways search engines work. In my case this works well, because my normal Google search will show sites related to my favorite team. I expand on this in two ways.

First, I set up the idea that I need to write a history essay on the culture of Vikings. Looking at the first page of Google will make this process difficult. (Keywords and Advance Search options is for the second post of this series). We then go to the second page of Google to see those results. Then I jump to one of the Os just to compare what that page’s results are to page one.

Second I use “vikings” with the other sites so that the students can “see” how even page one of the results differ from Google.

OK, time to share a couple of my favorite search engines.

Yippy is my favorite search engine to use at the beginning of the research process.

As you can see, the search results start with the official site for the Minnesota Vikings. That is OK. What I like are the tags on the left.

As you noticed I clicked the medieval option. If you will notice, by clicking on that tag changed the results on the right. As you follow the tags, the results change. You can get new tags to explore by clicking the “remix” link above the tags. Yippy is a great starting option when students are trying to learn more about a general topic.

Social Media is a part of our world and can lead students to useful content. Social Mention is a powerful (and kind of fun) search engine to discover what is happening in the social media realm.

There are lots of options and information going on with the results. The right side provides analytics about the keyword. The left provides the results. You can see that the result has the source and user information. When you follow the result it will take you right to that post. This is a solid tool to use at the beginning of the research process, but can also be useful for real time events in history classes.

The last search engine I will talk about is Elephind. This searches newspaper collections all the way back to the 1800s. I can get lost in reading these newspapers. The right side will allow you to filter by different options.

Elephind is a specific search engine, but that matters. Using the right tool to find information matters.

I hope you enjoy investigating the other search engines from the mix. If you have questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.

The next post will be about advanced search options in Google and other tools.

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About jboelhower

I am a husband and a father. I have been in the field of education for over 20 years.
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