Monthly Archives: March 2014

Questions, questions…

from A Google a Day

from A Google a Day

A good bell-ringer to help students improve their search skills is Students have to find the answer to a daily question, and they earn points depending on  how fast they submit the correct answer.

Jeff Utecht suggests that these questions are good for teachers, too. They show teachers how to reframe a question so that it requires multiple levels of knowledge. Here’s an example from Google a Day:

What is the binomial name of the animal for which the FVGP provides sanctuary and rehabilitation?

A search of FVGP reveals that it it the Fernan-Vaz Gorilla Project, a sanctuary for the Western lowland gorillas that are hunted for bush meat.    A second search for the binomial name of the lowland gorilla is Gorilla gorilla gorilla. Submitting the correct answer in timely fashion earns you 300 points.

Your essential question for class projects needs to be “Google proof,” Utecht says.  “Ask questions that Google can’t answer.”

This got me thinking about how I could engage my journalism students to discover the perimeters of media law.  Instead of lecturing or having them read from a six-year old textbook which doesn’t have last week’s “I (heart) Boobies!” ruling, I could give them a scenario that would require them to determine a legal defense.  It would take more time, but students would be learning the skill of search in a real-life situation, not the skill of note taking. Yes, I could play the role of the judge hearing their arguments in the courtroom. Sounds fun.

Getting technical

Screen shot 2014-03-05 at 5.52.22 AM

I enjoyed the Digital Classroom Conference on March 4 at Bettendorf, Iowa, High School that was presented by Jeff Utecht from Spokane, Washington.  He had some great examples of how students are using the Internet to learn things on their own.  He also reinforced my belief that schools are not doing enough to prepare students for the digital age. His ideas are valuable and trend-setting, so that’s why I’m getting off my couch to share them with my fellow teachers and parents.  The best way to do this is on a blog, of course. (I just hope WordPress is not blocked at my school like Blogger and YouTube.)

Utecht emphasized the importance of teaching students “the skill of search.”  He thinks Chrome is the best search engine, and “Wikipedia is more accurate than your textbook” simply because knowledge expands like never before in history.  He suggested that we teach students to limit searches to only the sites that have been updated within the last three years. He suggested that adding “site:edu” or “” to search terms will yield more trusted web sites. To get a global perspective on a topic that is relevant to a region, students should add a country to the search. He suggested a search on “Vietnam war” to see how Vietnam perceives what they call the “American War.”  “Never before in education could you get a country’s perspective on a topic,” he said.

He wasn’t here to give us just search tips, however.

He continued his presentation with examples of how students can collaborate to create new knowledge with their hands-on research, mapping tools, and class notes. I’ll talk about digital communities next time.

Let’s interact. How do you help students improve their skills of search?