Thursday, January 12, 2012

If you gotta' use Google......

then at least use it correctly.  I don't know how many times I've told students that.  Too many kids want to put in an entire research question into Google and then they can't understand why they aren't getting any results.  Or getting results they can use.

Richard Byrne has an article in the latest edition of School Library Journal entitled Keep Good Searches from Going Bad: When students make a beeline for Google, these tips can improve their experience.  I wish I could make this required reading for anyone--teacher or student--coming in the library to look for information.  I don't know why people think Google is going to answer questions for them--over and over again we stress keyword matching--just put the most important words you want the computer to search for.  But over and over again, I see students typing in long questions and getting poor results.

One of Richard's first suggestions is for teachers to stop giving assignments that can be quickly "googled" --AMEN to that.  I try to suggest to teachers different ways to look for information but teachers sometime are slow to change plans--if it worked last year, then by all means, do it again (TTWWADI in action!). 

Learning all the different strategies to use with Google helps too.  Just going through the advanced search function instead of taking what first pops up is a big help.  Tammy Worcester is another Google guru--her book on Google tips outlines nearly everything a researcher can do to streamline a Google search.  It's a lot to remember so it's no wonder people don't always use her tips.  But again, just some simple things help--like sticking to key words rather than a question.

Richard also gives some great suggestions for other search engines.  I tell kids all the time--Google is not the only game in town--just the biggest one.  And if one search engine doesn't give you the results you need, then try another one.

Richard's blog is called Free Technology 4 Teachers.  He has some great ideas to use technology in the classroom so when I saw his article in SLJ, I was quick to read it.  Take some time to read it--and try to pick one trick to try and implement.

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