Google Search Education provides search literacy lesson plans that can be used in the classroom to teach students about picking the right search terms, understanding search results, narrowing a search to get the best results, searching for evidence for research tasks, evaluating credibility of sources. Each of these topics has a plan developed specifically for beginner, intermediate, or advanced students.
They also have A Google A Day challenges that ask students to find answers to questions so they can test the skills they learned. The challenges are broken up into categories of culture, geography, history, and science. Every challenge asks a questions such as,
Every national flag in the world shares a common geometric characteristic, except for one country. Which country is it?
When you click “View Challenge” it takes you to a Google Slides presentation that walks students through the thought process of answering that specific question.
Tiffany Whitehead on the School Library Journal blog gives some great tips and activities that she has created to teach information literacy to students. This exercise is for a beginner student on picking the right search terms:
- Start by imagining that you are making a quiz on the “Percy Jackson” series by Rick Riordan (Disney/Hyperion). One of the questions for your quiz is, “What food does Tyson like best?” Show students the results for that search, which has lots of hits about Tyson chicken but nothing about Percy Jackson.
- Explain to students that in order to become better searchers, it’s helpful to understand how a search works. The video “How Search Works” by Matt Cutts gives a great overview.
- After watching this short video, discuss how conducting a search is different from talking to a person. Instead of using a complete question, we need to identify key terms for our search. Work through the original question, getting rid of unnecessary words and adding essential terms. Show students the difference in results when using the search terms: Tyson favorite food Percy Jackson.
- Have students work in small groups to work through developing search terms for several other search questions.
- Challenge students to take what they learned in this lesson and share it with their parents. Re-teaching a concept is a great way to make learning stick, and it’s a bonus to encourage students to share newly acquired knowledge with their parents.
While she found the Google A Day Challenges great, she also found that if students “googled” the exact question they would be taken to an answer that someone had blogged about. She developed a few challenges of her own:
Quelle est la population de la plus grande ville de France?
Create a question such as this one that requires students to use Google Translate. Translation will show this question is asking, “What is the population of the largest city in France?” Then, students will have to search to find the name of the city and its population.
• After a trip around the world, you return home with 52 British Pound Sterling, 5300 Serbian Dinar, and 120 Euro. How much would this convert to in U.S. Dollars?
Make a question that requires students to use Google Currency Converter to convert all currency to U.S. Dollars, then add for the total.
• A famous athlete said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” What team did they play for in 1990?
Come up with a question that requires students to to find the name of a famous person from a quote or accomplishment, then search for another piece of information about that person.
• In the city that is at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers is one of the world’s largest churches. What type of church is it?
Use reverse design to come up with questions. I recently traveled to Belgrade, Serbia and visited the Temple of Saint Sava, one of the ten largest church buildings in the world. Use what you know or have experienced to create interesting and complex questions.
These tools and her adaptations are wonderful! I particularly love the question in another language. Instead of complaining about students using Google and Wikipedia, using these tools to teach information literacy is a far better use of our time!