Using Google search options

I am preparing some lessons on research for the new year 7 students. Knowledge about how make internet searches more efficient  is something that students from all year levels could refresh from time to time.

We always seem to begin with Google as it is the one everyone seems to know best. Most students  use Google almost exclusively but wikipedia and Youtube are also high up on their lists. We all can see how Google has changed since it was first developed. Some things are very obvious and others less so. It is very easy to get into a rut and not notice some changes. It is always interesting to see how much the year 7 students know. Many have a very basic level of knowledge but are very confident they know how to search. Many teachers seem to assume that students are proficient at searching the web but many

I usually ask them some basic questions that gradually show how well they can narrow down searches. It is interesting how many hands go down as I ask my various questions. After this initial introduction they always want to learn how to do the things I ask about.

I also ask the students put the icon for the  Google “advanced search” on their favourites tool bar as we go through the lesson. The fields shown there are useful for reminding the students about how they can narrow down their searches.

The options that Google has on its simple search page has not been noticed by very many students let alone used by them. The tab “search tools ” can be really useful for them and they don’t have to be on the advanced search page.

Basic searchIt  offers some very useful options to help refine searches.

You can choose:

  • “The Web”- drops down the option of Australian sites or the whole web,
  • “Any time” – once clicked,  allows you to search from information from an hour ago to a year ago or to customize your date range.
  • “All results”  – is the list that I think offers some of the best options to refine searches. The option which has especially interested some teachers who work in student support (for students who find classroom work more difficult than most) is the reading level option. I talk about using it depending on whether or not you are new to a subject or already have some understanding.

Search tools - all results

If you choose this option, it breaks down the level of difficulty on one of these will into 3 types: basic, intermediate and advanced. Clicking on any one of these will give you the sites that Google has designated fit that description.

search: reading levels

In an advanced search  these can be combined in many more a variety of ways rather than having to choose just one or another.

I can see the “search tools” option in Google being used quite a bit this year although I must not fail to mention InstaGrok, which is a visual search engine that offers the option to choose the level of difficulty as well as a number of other great features. I wrote a post about Instagrok last year  but since then can be used in Explorer

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4 Responses

  1. Rhondda, I am a librarian in a 6-8 grade school. I’ve been trying to limit my students’ research to the research databases we subscribe to. I feel they need to learn how to use them for their future academic classes. However, I realize that when I’m not looking, they use Google. So, when the opportunity arises, I teach them how to use Advance Search and to limit searches to .edu and .gov sites. Along with that, I know I also need to make sure they are evaluating the websites they do use. The problem is, how to find time to do all of these lessons when they are there for a limited amount of time working on a research project. I was just wondering if you subscribe to databases as well and at what point do you teach those? before or after the Google search?

    • Hi Sandra,
      I have been working with year 8 classes in RE. We start with working on understanding the topic set by the teacher. I then showed them how to access World book online (we subscribe) and we talked about why this might be a good place to start some research (rather tthan for example wikipedia) I also explain that there are different levels they can choose to search on that database. After having a look at World Book and saving it onto their favourites tool bar we go on to searching Google. We do some searches together using the data projector so everyone can see how to refine the searches. They also put the google adv search icon on their toolbar. We finally look at instagrok and the boys really like the visual nature of this search engine. They also save this to their toolbar. I try to help them see the logic. We have had a session on bibliographies – they are allowed to use online bibliographies. When they do their bibliography they have to annotate each of the sources they have used. The teachers have included it in the assessment rubric. All the teachers know that the students have had these lessons and are supporting us by encouraging students to practice these skill each time there is a research piece. We will also be running some evening sessions for parents next term explaining to them what we are teaching their sons.
      We will see how we go.

  2. [...] Using Google Search Options –  from Rhondda’s Reflections – wandering around the Web [...]

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