Searching For What Students Need to Learn

Our students are using technology more and more every day. This is the reality, especially as digital tools become part of everyday life. In order to be effective digital learners, one of the universal competences every student needs to master and all teachers need to model is the ability to perform an effective search. Search skills are essential for making anyone an independent and effective learner in today’s society.
My top priority and responsibility as a teacher is to make sure each of my students move on to the next grade prepared to succeed in the world that will follow their education experience. That means, regardless of what education or career path each of my students choose, they have what it takes to succeed. The information they need to answer all the questions they will have and build their knowledge is on the web, they need to know the best way to find it. Understanding all the strategies and tricks for searching on Google has become essential in order to be literate in the 21st century.

Making It Easy On Educators

This week I looked into the new curriculum Google just released to help both teachers and students really master search and understand not only the essential vocabulary and skills, but all the tricks out there now to make search easier. This will definitely be my “go to” resource for ensuring my students are grounded in their search skills and ready to build on them as they get older and new technologies develop.
The lessons are created by a group of accomplished Google Certified Teachers who truly know what is going to work in the classroom. They cover three main topics:

  1. “Understanding Search Engines”
  2. “Web Search Techniques and Strategies,” and
  3. “Google Web Search Features.”

All of the topic areas include a basic, intermediate and advanced lesson plans, accompanied with an engaging ready-made slideshow, full of rich content, like quality tutorial videos by the educators at Google. Each lesson is crafted starting with clear objectives and easy to implement procedures, until finishing off with an creative, and fun evaluations of learning.
Also, the lessons include opportunities to use other Google tools, like Google Forms and Google Spreadsheets. Students can pair up and play a game of Google Search Bingo. One lesson even ends with student groups basically creating their own “Google Search Stories,” which is one project I have always wanted to add to our curriculum!
Beyond having high-quality content in the lessons themselves, the beauty of this curriculum is that it’s truly open and flexible. These lessons are not content specific and can fit into any subject and any grade level where the students are ready to start searching for content on the internet. They are full of engaging activities that will really motivate students to get into the so-called “sandbox” and start researching for valuable resources.

Meeting NETS Standards

The creators of these lessons looked first to the technology standards NETS (National Educational Technology Standards) for students and teachers set by ISTE and each lesson is aligned in order to prepare our students effectively to be digital learners, as well as responsible digital citizens. According to these standards, we need to teach “search” as a student skill, but, even more importantly, as teachers, we need to model how technology is being used in our professional society. Google isn’t just for writing research papers, it’s a tool they can use to succeed in almost any career path they chose.

Creating Geniuses for Our Future

Success depends not only on locating the answer quickly, but more on the ability evaluate and select the most accurate information, organize for relevancy, and understand where the source should lead next. Research results look so different than what was expected twenty, even ten years ago! We now need to add images, video clips, podcasts, interactive maps, animations, tweets with countless links, comments on blogs to our Works Cited page – and that only begins to scratch the surface of the new forms of information students now reference.
I am so excited to use these lessons with my students and even more anxious to begin to see more depth and quality in the information my students draw on, share and submit for our daily work and research projects. According to one search story, “Google can make you look like a genius” and by mastering search skills, my students will not just look like it, they will actually be genius.

Alison Anderson

Alison Anderson

Alison Anderson is a Media Specialist at The Madeleine School.

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Vivian Deason

I have too often been in the computer lab with another teacher’s class and seen students typing whole questions into the Google search bar. The results that get back have very little to do with the information they need. Of course I stepped in and show the students that just typing in the topic got better results than a question, but that is only a handful of student out of over 1200. I can’t possibly sit with all of the students and show them the ticks of searching the Internet. But a generic lesson about conducting research online that can be integrated into any subject is exactly what I need to take back to my teachers. Now the students can spend less time “playing” online trying to find information and more time creating from that information. I know the teachers will be thrilled. Vivian Deason, Dr. Setser’s Summer ECI 509 class.

Dianna Stavros

As the technology specialist at my school, I certainly can appreciate the high quality lessons that are being provided by Google Education. The ability to incorporate other Google tools as well will be a great asset when I return to school in the fall. Student's will hopefully build up enough confidence with their skills and stop writing out entire questions, as Vivian stated. The earlier we can show students that the search process, and the technologies available to them are tools and not fancy toys the better. Dianna Stavros, Dr. Setser's Summer ECI 509 class.

Jenna Hardin

I love this article. I didnt know of these resources google had to teach students how to use sesrch engines. Im so excited to do this with my kids, because I want to bang my head against a wall every time my students take the questions on their sheets and put them word for word into google, because they have the idea that the search engine is going to do the thinking for them. Then, they click on the first website that pops up, regardless of whether it is truly relevant or not. We have many students who are familiar with technology but very few who use it effectively. Thanks for the helpful info!

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