KidRex Search (Part 2)

I’m not sure how I made it through the second half of the Google Power Search online class, but I did it! In the midst of Book Fair and traveling out of town I was able to get it done! I highly recommend viewing the course material as long as it is available online and participating if the class is offered in the future.

I explained my class procedure with fourth graders for their first online search lesson. During the second week of this mini-unit (just 2 class sessions) I scheduled the computer lab and set the students loose with some independent work.

I decided to use KidRex.org, a custom Google search, for the students to use. I briefly demonstrated how the search looks a bit different from Google. I said that I like the search because it filters out sites with lots of advertising and shopping. I’m sure there’s more to it than that, but I kept my explanation simple for the students.

Download @ Google Drive

The workpage I used has three parts.

The first is a guided practice question. Students use the question to generate key words and then experiment with their search to discover which combination of terms generates the best results. I told the students that the animal they are searching for is one of my favorites and that learning the answer isn’t the point. The point of this is to practice with keywords. (I didn’t want them to spend 30 minutes trying to find the right animal with limited information.)

The second part was independent practice. Each student identified a topic they wanted to learn more about. They had to list the keywords before searching.

Finally, I asked students to tell me what they had learned about searching in these two lessons. I phrased it poorly on my first draft of the workpage and students said things like, “I learned that sharks have strong jaws.”

Oh boy.

They answered the question almost exactly the way I asked: what did you learn from your practice searching?, but avoided the prompts I had also supplied. This is why I never make copies for an entire grade level unless I’ve done the lesson in the past. I revised and made another set of copies. Most students ended up telling me that they shouldn’t use a whole sentence to search or should just use important words. Some said they liked KidRex. One student was very insightful and mentioned that she could make a better search with some of the words she found in the results of her first search. Impressive!

I really hope that some of these lessons will translate to future practice. I’ll be sharing with teachers the strategies I used with students so they can keep them in mind when assigning projects to students. I placed a link to KidRex on my Destiny homepage and my library website so that students can find it easily. Google is a powerful tool, but many of the results distract students when they aren’t skilled at crafting a good combination of keywords.

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