Yesterday, I attended a Classroom 2.0 and Future of Education webinar called “Google Research and Google Web Search Curriculum,” presented by Lucy Gray, Cheryl Davis, Kathleen Ferenz and Dan Russell. It was like a crash course in best practices for searching Google, and the session was extended by about 30 minutes to include a quick overview of Google Custom Searches.
As soon as the session ended, I went right to Google and created my customized search engine.
I do a research project with my students every Fall. The project incorporates many different skills, including:
- using keywords
- good sites vs. bad sites (does a site offer the content you are looking for?)
- copyright/fair use
- word processing
- idea mapping (using Inspiration software)
Many of my students lose precious time (I only see them for 45 minutes once a week) sifting through Google results that are often irrelevant to their topic. Here is where my custom search engine comes in.
When you create your search engine, Google allows you to list all of the sites you want to come up in the search results. This would be helpful if students are researching a specific topic—you can simply plug in a list of sites where they can find information on the topic. I decided to enter the URLs for kid friendly search engines that I am familiar with and other sites like NASA.gov, Time for Kids, National Geographic and Wikipedia and other encyclopedias that will yield more relevant results than a general Google search.
That’s not all!
Google also provides an embed code, so I can also embed a search box into my classroom wiki so my students can do a search through my search engine, right on our homepage!
This tool is one that every teacher should give a try!