Search Smart – 5 fast ways to locate appropriate websites for your students

At school our big focus on CBL and Inquiry Based Learning has led to conversations around how to scaffold and teach students skills  relating to researching on the web. It’s my opinion that Primary School students should not be left to do open searches Google – there is simply too much information to sort through. (This doesn’t mean we don’t teach them how and give them opportunities to practise, it just means we don’t set them Challenges and let them ‘go for it’ on the open web) Instead, teachers need to find relevant websites for students to search for information from, and post them on their class Site or Blog. This limits the amount of information students need to search through, and guides their searches to appropriate websites for their reading level etc.

This then leads to the issue of how much time it takes for teachers to collate and curate information for different groups of students in their class, as it is sometimes difficult to find informative sites at their reading level and relevant to the inquiry they are engaging in. I have found that teachers are often as ignorant as students in knowing how to search in a smart way for the type of sites they want. (This has led to some PD on how to teach search skills, or Information Literacy. A blog post on this is to come!) That’s why I produced the following guide for our staff:

5 Fast Ways to Find Appropriate Websites

1. Use Google filters

After you do a search in Google, on the results page select from the filters to narrow your search. Select ‘Search Tools’ and ‘Reading Level’ to sort websites by reading level. Select the specific types of media you want to search: videos, images, scholarly articles, news, blogs, apps etc.

2. Benefit from the work of other teachers by searching collections of education resources, rather than the open web.

3. Google isn’t the only search engine!

Use one of the many dedicated ‘kids’ search engines instead. This article will explain the reason for them and give you the top 3:

4. Search education sections of relevant agencies/organisations

5. Live like its the 21st century – leverage the power of social networking

  • Diigo – a social bookmarking site. Store your bookmarks online and see everyone elses as well. Join communities around particular topics. Search what other people have already found to be useful and bookmarked rather than the open web.

  • Twitter, Google+, Pinterest – All searchable by hashtags. Bring a world of information to you from some of the best educators on the planet. Join some communities on Google+ and watch your education knowledge explode.

  • There are sharing networks for resources around particular products, such as iPads and even IWBs, such as Promethean Planet

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