Every year I try to cover at least a few weeks with my middle school students on using search engines effectively. Primarily, we use Google because, well, it’s Google. Lately, we’ve been focusing on using Google’s Advanced Search features through the special operators that are available (quotations for phrases, ellipses for date ranges, dashes for omitting terms, etc.). You can see their Tips and Tricks sheet here.
But as I’m teaching this with my students I get the impression they don’t realize how incredibly useful it is to narrow your search results. I try to demonstrate the utility of these techniques. We look at using the “site:edu” operator, for example, to return only site that end in “.edu”. And we check out what Justin Bieber was doing between a set of specific years (“Justin Bieber” 2006…2009).
I guess my question is, how do we make this more interesting? The Internet is a gigantic mess. These skills are necessary and incredibly useful. I want to make this interesting. Is this one of the skills that we introduce in middle school only to revisit in high school when it’s more applicable?
I’d love to hear how others teach searching skills, especially if you make it fun.