Monday, January 13, 2014

Simple ideas for effective search results

I was fortunate to attend a training session on Google Search last week at the Napa Valley 1:1 Institute, presented by Courtney Hampson, a Content and User Education Specialist from Google.  Here’s the link to her So You Think You Can Search  presentation. Here are a few quick tips about effective search from that session.

How to organize a search.
  • What is it I’m looking for? Think about common keywords. DO NOT simply type the question into the search box!!! 
  • How would someone else talk about it? What words would they use?  How would THEY describe it?
  • Which of those terms would be most common
  • Which of those terms would be very specialized to this topic?
  • What does my answer look like? What am I expecting back? Do I want a single web page, a definition, a collection, an image, or something else?
Use Search Operators to narrow down your search results.

  • Search an exact word or phrase by adding quotation marks around the phrase, e.g.,  "to be or not to be"
  • Remove words from your search by including a minus sign, IMMEDIATELY followed by the word, e.g., jaguar –car  (no space after the minus sign!)
  • Search within a domain or site. So, to search for Olympics only within the, type olympics
  • To fill in the blank (if you only remember part of a saying, for instance), add an asterisk (*), e.g.,  a * saved is a * earned .
Control or Command F!

Did you know you can search on ANY web page for a key word or phrase? This should work on any browser, on any web page. Simply press Control – F (PC) or Command – F (Mac). This will bring up a search box, into which you can enter any search term. The webpage will then highlight each occurrence of that word or phrase. This can SAVE YOU TIME. 

My go-to Digital Citizenship/Digital Literacy site, Common Sense Media, also has some great lesson on becoming more skilled at vetting sites, the other (possibly more important) side of this equation. Here's one Identifying High Quality Sites lesson to check out. We'll circle back to evaluating sites in more depth soon.

Here's a recent post we did on Effective Search lesson plans.

Finally, A Google A Day is an engaging website where you and your students can practice searching in a challenging, fun way. 

What do YOU do to improve - or evaluate -  your search results? Let us know!

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