Friday, November 13, 2009

That Was Then and This Is Now

It is time for the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) essay contest. This makes it the perfect time to review Internet search strategies. As I was preparing, I took a look at a presentation I worked on about three and a half years ago. The changes in how I present and how the students interact with the information has changed for the better - I think.

The 2009 Version

Although I loaded the screens up to Slideshare, these are JPG exports from the Promethean board.

Slide 1
I started with an image and a quote. It got their attention. The sixth grade, overall, felt like this was a false statement. Most students felt that books were easier to use when finding information. They felt that they often could not find what they were looking for when they used a search engine.

Slide 2
I wanted them to be taken off guard with regards to purpose. I found an image and cut the baseball bat out. They volunteered some purposes for the bat - from hitting a home run to hitting aliens in a video game.

Slide 3
We talked about seeing something out of context and how the big picture changes your opinion.

Slide 4
I had a screen shot of a Google search result for the words transcontinental railroad irish. The DAR essay is "The Completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad". I only wanted the first five entries.

We worked on figuring out Google's results based on what was typed in the search box. You can see from the different colors on the screen what the students were focusing on. We flipped back to this slide a few times as we built the concept.

Slide 5
We looked at the image and I talked about the fact that there could be 12 people outside the hotel room door, but they are out of view. When we flipped back to slide 4, we found there were over 45,000 search results, but we were only looking at the first five. What if entry number 20,000 had just what we needed? How could we find it easier?

Slide 6
I explained that over the next few Fridays, I will share tips and give them time to practice searching. Today's tip was going to focus on the website URL. We flipped back to slide four. I pointed out the URL and we talked about the three parts of the web address. Many start www. It is followed by a word of some sort. It ends with an extension. Sometimes they are three letters, sometimes two.

Slide 7
When I put up slide seven, it initially only had the magenta letters. The students took turns volunteering their knowlege. Sometimes it took a few students to build the whole answer, e.g., .EDU.

Forty-two Minutes Passes Quickly
I just got to slide eight when the bell was ringing. Next week, they are going to go on to their computers and try a Google and Altavista search for transcontinental railroad irish. The will report on the first five results. For each entry, they will list the link title, what they can tell about the website from the domain name, and they will look at the page and try to determine if the information would be helpful in their DAR research.

The will then search for their specific topic for the DAR essay to look for a detail they could use in their paper. Write the search engine name they use (Google, Altavista, something else) AND the keywords they searched for.

The following week, we will take their search queries and analyze what they are requesting from the search engine based on what they typed as a query. It should be interesting. I'm generating some ideas to get that accomplished.

As a Comparison
Here is the same basic information I provided to my older son's class three and a half years ago. I know I prefer what I did this year. Even if I didn't have a Promethean board, I still could have accomplished the same basic lesson.