I'm going to disturb and unsettle some Library Media Specialists here for a second (I'll redeem myself in a bit), so please stick with me.
Most people think they generally know how to search the web. In fact, some of us think we are pretty good at searching the web and finding valuable resources. However, when you look at the tricks and tips most of us actually employ to complete those searches, it's actually pretty unimpressive and without much strategy. Sadly, those unimpressive search strategies are the exact same strategies we "relay" to our students if educators don't take a more progressive view of systematic digital resource research.
The harsh reality is that most of our searches start with Google. And so do most of our students. While we may wish they started in databases (or at least proceeded to them in deeper research), they typically do not. I challenge all of you who have the luxury (sadly it has become that in so many schools) of a Library Media Specialist available in your building to help you rethink that approach when teaching research to your students. These folks are experts in this area and can really jump start some high quality ideas and lessons that will be invaluable to your students today and in the future.
Let's say, though, that we were to stick to Google alone. Did you know that Google has an Advanced Search feature that really drills down into some focused and interesting results.
I'm going to let another Waukesha instructor, West's Mark Grunske, share his nifty little tip about using Google's Advanced Search to find appropriate resources on the Internet based upon the reading level. As you visit Mark's blog, you'll see the details of how to do this. Go and try it yourself. And in doing so, you'll see lots of other Advanced Search options that may make you see how valuable having a little bit more systematic, advanced search strategies (even in Google) can be in finding the digital information you REALLY want!
From Mark Grunske's blog:
"This month's Google tip deals with finding appropriate readings for students at different reading levels........
When I first saw this trick, I immediately thought of all of our work in AO as well as the current leveling in Science and the similar changes coming to English and Social Studies............To search Google for sources sorted by reading level all you have to do is the following......."
Read the rest of the article at Mark's blog - Google, Gadgets, and Grunske - Reading Levels.
And again, visit your Library Media Specialists to start exploring how we can teach kids to be better "seekers" and "finders" of information. In a world where everything is digital and the accessibility to information continually explodes, these critical skills are as an important as being able to read the resources once our students have found them.