Saturday, March 20, 2010

Search Strategies - More than "Just Google It"

Every year, I ask my 6th grade students to respond to the following prompt in their Tech journals: "Describe your strategies for researching using the Internet." Without fail, at least 80% of them will respond with something like, "I type a word into Google and then click on the first website listed" or "I go straight to Wikipedia."

So, I think it time to teach Internet search strategies a little more explicitly. (Even the New York Times recently posted a lesson plan for dealing with Internet searching skills.)

These are the search strategies I start with for my students when they begin their projects:
  1. Take note of the domain names types (.gov & .edu tend to have most "reliable" info)
  2. Check the "About Us" to see if the site seems reliable. Sometimes "Contact Us" or "FAQs" or that site's own blog can also provide valuable hints to a page's reliability.
  3. Try searching or (ex: Twitter NOTE: There is no space between the "-" and the domain name type.
  4. Try putting your search item in quotes. (ex: "history of Mt. Vesuvius" instead of just history of Mt. Vesuvius)
  5. Try subtracting or add words (for example type 'Tiger -Woods' to search for info on the animal.) NOTE: There is no space between the "-" and word you are subtracting.
  6. Try clicking on the little superscript numbers in Wikipedia articles to find out the source that is used. Or, just scroll down to the bottom of the Wikipedia article and look over all of the sources used.
  7. Try searching popular news, tech, or science sites - (Newsweek, Time, New York Times, SFGate, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, CrunchBase, USGS, National Geographic, etc. (ex: "Foursquare +Chicago Tribune")
  8. Use other media as sources for information, such as videos (TED talks, YouTube interviews) or podcasts (KQED, NPR)
Still need more help? Try these links: Using Search Engines, Develping a Search Strategy, and 10 Simple Google Search Tricks (NY Times)
And, don't forget when you are searching to cite the websites you use!


wildcard said...

You can also use Wolfram Alpha. For instance, to search for "tiger":

Anonymous said...

In Foursquare +Chicago Tribune you need to put 'Chicago Tribune' in quotes if you don't just want to search Chicago

Ex. Foursquare +"Chicago Tribune"