Searching Google is a skill and I would claim it is as important as many reading skills being taught today. Many teachers are engaging students in a more project-based approach to learning. As a result, students have to locate information on topics they are studying.
Finding “Just Right” Sites:
If students are researching a topic, it is crucial that they are locating age-appropriate sites. It’s like a Goldilock test. Students need to be able to tell when a website is…
- Too difficult,
- Too easy, or
- Just right
I might provide students with a rule similar to discarding difficult books. For instance, if the first paragraph has 3 or more unknown words, this website is might be too difficult. Of course, I wouldn’t want you to say, “Get out of this website immediately!” But, it at least gives students the thought that if this site is too difficult to understand; I shouldn’t use it.
To help guide students to kid-related sites, have students use the phrase “for kids” within their search. Additionally, Google has a search filter that allows you to search for “easier” reading levels for students. No, you cannot search websites for their associated Fountas & Pinnell reading levels, but it gives you the choice of easy, moderate, or advanced reading materials. Refer to the image for accessing the Reading Levels search filter (Disclaimer: Google likes to move things around; so, this is where the reading level search filter was the day this post was published.)
First, teach your students basic searching tips. Engage students in digital literacy skills by providing practice with searching. It really is a skill to effectively search for specific topics and using keywords will usually eliminate unwanted websites. Google’s Search Education lessons
will help even the most novice searcher, but there are advanced search tips for the Google Ninjas.
Take the Google-A-Day challenge…
Reliable or Not:
Next, I would focus on teaching students how to spot reliable/unreliable websites. Check out the these Edcanvas resources and see if you or your students can spot unreliable websites:
- Spot the Unreliable Website 1
- Spot the Unreliable Website 2
Have students use a checklist to evaluate a site’s reliability. NetSmartz has a decent evaluation tool
on their site. Their evaluation tool looks carefully at the website, the author, and the information.
These are lessons that should be iterative and not a one time process. Instead, whenever you, as a teacher, see the need for lessons on finding just-right sites, searching the web, or determining a site’s reliability, just intertwine these topics within one of the projects you are completing within your classroom.