Search it! What do you do, what can you do?

Search it! This post is the third in a series of lessons to teach online search skills. When I last taught the lesson the grade were investigating Geography: A Diverse and Connected World so the search task was based on the major export items from Australia to a selection of countries. We looked at a chart from the Oxford Australian Curriculum Atlas Years 5-6 Professional Support that outlined the major countries Australia exports to, the students were then paired and provided with a country to focus on and a search task to find the top 3 export items from Australia to the given country.

Lesson One: What do you do?

In order to gather all the responses, students entered their search results onto Socrative – the focus was on the search process not just the correct answer or the speed to find the information – students needed to think about what they were doing. A hard copy of the search questions Major Australian Exports search questions is available to adapt.

When results were posted the answers were shared with class – what sort of search terms did the students use, we looked at the URL’s of the websites visited to see if there were common results. We discussed the importance of checking more than one source. There were many opportunities for teachable moments and it is worthwhile to show tools such as using the ‘Find’ Ctrl +F to highlight keywords when you come across lengthy documents, why it is important to skim and scan, read headings, check tables and think about the type of site you sourced your answer from.

Although Google has made searching very easy – a few keywords to a long question will get results, it is important for students to think about the search term, before giving tips I wanted the class to have a go and see their search habits – before providing suggestions on what you could do to search like an expert.

The following search guide was provided to students via the School Library Homepage:


Lesson Two: What can you do?

The lesson began watching the YouTube clip How to Google like a Pro! Top 10 Google Search Tips & Tricks by Epic Tutorials. The ten tips go beyond upper primary but it is worth watching and then asking what stood out to the students as different aspects are highlights for different students.

The next step is to practice some of the tips. To do this I had a guide with examples on the IWB and got the student to have a go at each exercise. The focus was aligned to the unit of work the class was involved in – this time Science animal adaptations. The search skills were specific to Google and included searching Google News and Images.

The final lessons were based on critical thinking – evaluating websites which you can read about in the post Evaluating websites – What site should I use?

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