We’ve had a big emphasis these past few weeks on learning how to search effectively, using advanced search options and Boolean search terms. First was a staff session, then working these skills into all of the lessons for years 3 to 6. While asking student to use these skills with their research I was trying to come up with a different way to present these techniques, and found myself doing air quotes whenever I talked about using “quote marks” to keep words together in a search string. From there it was a short step to the left, and then a step the ri-i-i-i-i-ight… (Actually I think my mental soundtrack is a little more Chicken Dance than Time Warp)
My sequence is:
- Quote marks – the easiest one to do and remember
- Minus the moustache – for using a minus sign to remove unwanted words
- Talky talky – make a speaking motion with your hand in front of your mouth; this is for setting the language filter, which is useful when researching international current affairs issues
- Reading glasses – means set the reading level filter
- Watch the time – setting a date range
To begin with I ask the whole class to stand up, raise their hands, and copy my actions. I do not tell them what it is or why – much more fun to keep them guessing! We run through the actions until everyone can do the sequence easily, then they do it without me.
Once everyone is seated again I ask them to pull up Google advanced and work out which fields relate to which action. On some pages (depends on which country version and which browser you are using) there will be small font instructions on the right-hand side of the page, describing what each filter does and how to use punctuation to enter that filter into a search string. The students then go ahead and try out the filters to see how that changes their searches. Each year level has its own Inquiry topic, so at the moment we have:
- Year 3 are researching Space, so we try “black hole” -song -movie
- Year 4 are researching change, via erosion and life cycles, so we are filtering for place names, specific weather-related causes of erosion, readability and date ranges
- Year 5 are researching Antarctica, so we have lots of “emperor penguins” -“Happy Feet”
- Year 6 are researching Asian countries, so we are filtering by language and region
At the end of the lesson everyone has to stand up and perform the actions again, and I have promised a sticker to every person who can do the whole sequence at our next Library lesson, which is a week away.