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May 24th-25th

posted May 24, 2016, 7:30 AM by Mike Costello   [ updated May 24, 2016, 7:31 AM ]
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SHMOOP #6 & #6.5 – Online Research and Keyword Search Techniques Activity: Research Basics & Keywords

Instructions for You – 75 Mins

Objective: Looking for info today ≠ your granny’s library card catalog. The first, last, and oftentimes only line of defense that students use to do research (at least in high school and beyond) is the Internet. Along with a host of delicious morsels of 411 goodies, come the challenges of knowing howto find the information that a student actually needs.

In this activity, students will explore and use different search engines. Students answer questions about the challenges of conducting online research, and learn how to narrow searches and find useful intel on the Web and specific websites.

Materials Needed: 

Step 1 (5-10 mins):  How many of you use the Internet to find information, and what kind of information it is.

It’s a big bad 411-filled world out there – and it’s got your number. Let’s see if you have its addy. How many of you have done research online before? What search sites did you use? [Possible answers: Google, Yahoo, Bing] What info were you looking for? Research sounds pretty academic and yawny, but it can also be fun. Whenever you check on a movie time, for example, you’re doing research. Yelping a new restaurant? Research!

As a class, brainstorm what kinds of questions they might use the Internet to answer. Remind students that research doesn’t just mean school or academics. Here are some possible answers:

  • Movie times (Fandango, anyone?)
  • Driving directions (Google maps and MapQuest come to mind here)
  • Quality of restaurants (Yelp!)
  • Movie and video game reviews (Rotten Tomatoes, IGN)
  • Cell phone plans
  • Recipes
  • Used iPads for sale (eBay, Craigslist)
  • What movie Taylor Lautner will be in next (IMDb)
  • Coupons and deals (Groupon, LivingSocial)

Step 2 (15 mins): Pass out copies of the "Google Search Madness" handout.  Independently search for the answers to the questions on the handout.

You will have 10 minutes to find the answers.  When you have found all of the answers, raise your hand. Winners will earn 10 Bonus Points.  Note:  Do Not use Wikipedia.org

Step 3 (3 mins):  As a class we will watch the "Searching the Web" video, which will provide some useful tips on keywords and phrases.

Step 4 (3-5 mins):  As a class we will read through the four tips on the "Google Search Pro Tips" handout, which gives specific tips on improving the keywords and phrases you enter into the Google search engine.  Does anyone have any other tips to add.

Step 5 (10-15 mins):  Students go to the second page of the handout, which lists search scenarios and requires them to come up with good search terms.  You'll all be competing to see who comes up with the best search results (the keywords/phrases that offer the fewest total results on Google).

Students read the scenarios, then come up with a few search terms they think are good, based on the tips they've learned.  Be sure to enter your search terms into Google, recording the total number of results for each keyword/phrase (probably will be in the thousands, if not millions) and the number of websites that look relevant on the first page of their Google results.

You will have 10 minutes to work on this then we will share your best search term and results for each of the four scenarios. The student with the lowest number of search results wins. (Use your judgment to ensure that the keyword/phrase will actually offer good results.)  Winners will earn 10 Bonus Points

Step 6 (5 mins):  Discussion with students about using keywords:

  1. How did you find your best search results?
  2. Which search techniques were most useful? Which is your new favorite technique?
  3. Was it hard to come up with good options for search terms?
  4. What kinds of questions do you think are the hardest to answer using a search engine?

Step 7 (4 minutes): At this point, some of your students might be pretty curious about how search engines work. Direct them to watch "How Search Works," a video created by Google. This video isn't only interesting, but also provides some useful info on how Google uses keywords to provide a list of results.