Introducing Search to your students

The NZ Curriculum describes Thinking as:

Using creative, critical and metacognitive processes to make sense of information, experiences and ideas

  • Developing understandings
  • Making decisions
  • Shaping actions
  • Constructing knowledge
  • Inquiry is key…

So often we send students off to begin an inquiry without adequately preparing them for the task of making their initial search, and so we find them simply entering words or phrases into a search engine and accepting what they are presented with.

Here are some links to explore and get you thinking about how you might more effectively introduce the power of search to your students:

Google remains one of the most popular search engines, and has become synonymous with the idea of searching on the web. For a focus on NZ content try, or you can opt for the Maori Language version by clicking on the Māori link under the search bar.

Kosmix lets users explore the Web by topic, presenting a dashboard of relevent videos, photos, news, commentary, opinion, communities and links to related topics. Really useful for learners who would benefit from multimedia references, or those with literacy difficulties. Check out the link at the top of the page that will allow you to add Kosmix to the list of search engines in your browser’s search function.
Quintura is a visual search engine that returns a “cloud” of related concepts when a search word or phrase is entered. Learners can use the connected words in the cloud to refine their search and drill down to the level of detail they want. There’s also a very useful Kids version available that offers a certain level of filtering of unwanted sites.
Wolfram|Alpha is the first step in an ambitious, long-term project to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable by anyone. Enter your question or calculation, and Wolfram|Alpha uses its built-in algorithms and a growing collection of data to compute the answer.
Whatever search engine you choose it is important to have some understanding of the principles of Boolean search. This handy online tutorial is suitable for sharing with students to help them understand how to use the basic search logic operators of “and”, “or”, “not”.
boolify logo Boolify makes it easy for students to understand their web search by illustrating the logic of their search, and by showing them how each change to their search instantly changes their results. is an online social bookmarking site that you can use to keep a track of all the useful sites you come across with your searches. The benefits of an online bookmarking tool are:

  • the ability to access your bookmarks from any computer
  • the ability to share your bookmarks with others
  • the ability for several people to contribute to the list
  • the ability to connect with others who share similar interests is a visual search portal where you can “Explore knowledge via the Dewey Decimal Classification; just clickety-click.” On the splash page you are presented with the main Dewey Numbers and an ever-changing interactive panorama showing images from these listings.

A list of safe search engines compiled by David Kaplar at Tech Learning:

  1. Sweet Search – A group of experts, including librarians and teachers, evaluates all content from this search engine.
  2. Top Marks – A great site developed in the UK by teachers who approved everything on this site.
  3. Quintura for Kids – An innovative search engine for kids that displays results in a cloud-based style. Also, has apps for mobile devices.
  4. Kid Rex – Wonderful search engine designed around Google’s safe search. Very nice visual appeal for kids.
  5. Ask Kids –  Search engine designed for kids ages 6-12.
  6. Yahoo Kids – Previously known as Yahooligans, Yahoo Kids is a fun site for kids to gather information on the internet.
  7. Famhoo –  Family-friendly search engine that filters all content.
  8. One Key – Developed in 1996, One Key, in collaboration with Google, does a nice job of creating a safe search engine.
  9. Google (safe search) – Google has a safe-search setting which can be locked into place at the browser level for those that use Firefox.
  10. Nettrekker –  Great paid site for searching the web — not only for students but for teachers as well.

One Response to Search

  1. Erin Freeman says:

    Add Boolify to this list — really worthwhile search engine.

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