Tag Archives: research strategies

Boost Online Search Strategies: A Fun Activity

In the previous post, we listed a set of tips to develop online search strategies. Try this skill building activity with middle school students to apply those tips and raise awareness of ways to find trustworthy information fast.

technoearth icon

This activity is from TechnoKids technology project TechnoEarth. In this project, students learn how to use Google Sites to design an interactive infographic about an environmental issue. The search activity below is a Skill Review from Session 1, in which students learn about environmental stewardship and infographics. Then they pick a topic of their choice and use a template to research the cause, harmful effects, stakeholders, location, and solution.


Explore Online Search Strategies

1. Try many keywords

search strategies

Some topics use different terms to mean the same thing. For example, both algal bloom and algae bloom refer to lots of algae in water. Compare the search results for algal bloom and algae bloom. Look at the list of sites, questions, images, or videos on the page.

  • Are the results the same for algal bloom and algae bloom?
  • If no, which keyword do you think is the best? Why?

2. Be specific

boost search strategies

Pretend your research topic is poaching of rhinos.

  • What is a solution to the problem?
  • To narrow the search results, what phrase did you use?

3. Pick from the dropdown menu

search drop down

The dropdown menu in the search box suggests keywords. Let’s say you are researching smog. List two suggested phrases you think would be helpful.

4. Refer to People also ask

search people ask

Many people ask questions about environmental issues. Search for plastic pollution. List a question from the People also ask section that you find interesting.

5. Check the URL

search strategies

The website address can give a clue about who made the web page. Find a government website about overfishing. The URL might end .gov or .gc.ca.

  • What is the URL?

6. Skim and Scan

skim and scan

Save time! Find a website about harmful effects of acid rain. Scan the search results for words that match the facts you need.

  • Which search result do you think will be the best? List the title.
  • Scan the description. Which keywords are in bold text?

technoearth
Design an infographic using Google Sites. Improve research skills and search strategies.

Boost Search Strategies with Middle School Students

web design for kids Google Sites

There is LOTS of information on the Internet. When students are conducting searches for specific topics, they can become overloaded with results. Irrelevant sites, limited skimming and scanning skills, advertising, and unreliable data are all factors that can make online searching time-consuming. Competent Internet search strategies can help students to locate high-quality sites quickly to get the facts they need.

Here’s a list of tips to boost Internet searches. In the next blog, we’ll post an activity to use with students to discover different ways of finding information by applying these tips.

search strategies
TechnoEarth includes a skill review to boost search strategies.

Search Strategies to Find Information FAST!

Try many keywords:

search strategies

Some topics have more than one term used to describe it. Each will provide different results.

Be specific:

boost search strategies

To narrow search results use a phrase that states exactly what you want. The more precise, the better.

Pick from the dropdown menu:

search drop down

As you type into the search box, a list of suggested phrases appears. This can save you time typing. Plus, it offers helpful keywords.

Refer to People also ask:

search people ask

The People also ask section has popular questions. The answers can quickly provide you with the information you seek.

Check the URL:

search strategies

Look for sites that are well known organizations, government agencies, or educational pages. The URL of these sites end with .org, .gov, or .edu.

Skim and scan:

skim and scan

Read the title. Check the description for the keyword. It will be bold. Glance over the text looking for words that match the facts you need.

Notice if the site is an Ad:

boost search strategies

Websites can pay to be at the top of the search results. The listing will be labeled Ad. Just because it is first does not mean it is the best.

Check the sources:

search strategies sources

A website may list their sources of information. Often, they are links to online articles. Verify that they are high-quality. If they are, use them.

Use Find to highlight facts:

search strategies using find

If there is a lot of text, use the Find feature. Press CTRL+F on the keyboard. Type a word into the search box. If it is on the page, it will highlight. Jump to each place where the word appears using the Previous and Next buttons.

Use multiple search engines:

search strategies using search engines

Use more than one search engine such as: Bing, Google, or Duck Duck Go. Each provides different results.


TechnoEarth to Boost Search Strategies

technoearth icon
TechnoEarth Technology Project

TechnoKids’ newest project, TechnoEarth, inspires students to become environmental stewards. As they research an important issue, they develop and refine search strategies. Then, using Google Sites, they design an interactive, web-based infographic that outlines the cause, harmful effects, and solutions. The publication also summarizes stakeholders, highlights interesting facts, and pinpoints the location of the problem. Students inform the public about the environmental issue, raise awareness, and spark action.

Check out the next blog post to get a fun activity from TechnoEarth. Students search for information and explore these tips to build proficient search skills.

Research Sources – Know the Difference

research sourcesResearch projects are an integral component of curriculum. Students select an area of inquiry and then they explore to investigate the topic. As educators, we focus on helping students to develop competent research strategies and prepare them for success. Students should recognize authentic, trustworthy sources. They should also be aware of the different types of resources: primary, secondary, and tertiary sources of information. And, searching these sources in a logical order promotes a systematic, proficient, and comprehensive understanding.

In TechnoBiography, students are guided through the research process. They begin by looking at sample biographies, then brainstorm, complete a planning organizer, and finally investigate all three different types of sources of online data – primary, secondary, and tertiary – in a structured order.

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources

Primary Sources
Primary sources of information are original artifacts, documents, research sourcesrecordings, or other sources of information about a topic. They offer first hand, original evidence. For students studying a biography, here are some examples of primary sources:

What did the person say or write?

  • speech or transcript
  • journal article
  • diary entry
  • letter or email
  • notebook
  • postcard
  • interview
  • personal blog
  • telegram
  • autobiography
  • social media post by person
  • video testimonial
What documents relate to life events?

  • birth certificate
  • marriage license
  • school report card or diploma
  • contract or agreement
  • membership card
  • act or treaty
  • warrant
  • passport or citizenship certificate
  • driver’s license
  • property deed
  • baptism certificate
  • will
What did the person make?

  • book or poem
  • artwork
  • song sheet
  • play
  • manuscript
  • invention
  • architecture
What did the person do?

  • photograph
  • video footage of live event
  • audio recording of live event
  • newspaper article of live event
  • eyewitness account of live event
  • medieval tapestry
  • experiment results
What awards of recognition were given?

  • trophy or plaque
  • medal or prize
  • certificate of recognition
What items did the person own?

  • vehicle
  • clothing or jewelry
  • instrument

Primary Source Tips:

  1. Timing Matters: A primary source is created at the time of the event or shortly after.
  2. No Judgement: A primary source is raw data and has not been interpreted by someone else.
  3. Verify Authenticity: Check the source of the artifact. It should be posted by a reliable source such as a museum, reputable organization, or official fan club.
  4. Copy of Original: A primary source is often one-of-a-kind or rare. Since there is a limited number, the artifact can be the actual item, digital copy, or exact replica.

Secondary Sources
Secondary sources of information research sourcesare created after an event has occurred or by someone who did not experience or participate in the event first-hand. In the case of a biography, the information was written or recorded by someone else about the person. Secondary sources often include opinions about the event or person so they have value in analyzing its importance or significance.

  • biography
  • newspaper editorial
  • magazine story
  • movie of historical event
  • documentary
  • review
  • non-fiction book
  • expert commentary
  • social media post by others
  • fan website
Secondary Source Tips:

  1. Find Trustworthy Sources: Use secondary sources from universities, government agencies, historical societies, organizations, museums, biography TV networks, or official fan pages. Avoid sources where the author or creator is unknown.
  2. Consider the Perspective: The creator has a purpose for making the secondary source. These reasons may cause them to hide facts, distort events, or draw false conclusions. Look for sources that are objective and unbiased.
  3. Check References: A secondary source will often list books, websites, or other sources of information. Use them to research.

Tertiary Sources
Tertiary sources of information offer broad research sourcesintroductory overviews of a topic gathered from a variety of sources. They have usually been contributed to by a number of authors and reviewed to ensure accuracy. Examples are encyclopedias or dictionaries. Like secondary sources, they may contain an interpretation or evaluation in addition to facts.

Order is Important in Research

When conducting a research project, knowing the different types of sources of information is essential. But the resources should be used in a logical order too. Start with a basic outline, then move on to find out the importance of the topic, and finally explore the original evidence:

  1. Begin with tertiary sources to get a general summary from a variety of sources.
  2. Search secondary sources to gain a deeper understanding and discover other viewpoints and perspectives on the topic.
  3. Then examine primary sources to view first-hand, original artifacts or evidence. Study the raw data to draw your own conclusions.

Teach Online Research Skills AND Engage Students!

Teach research skills

Although young people today are savvy Internet users, often their skills are restricted to social media and video and photo sharing sites. Their research skills may be limited to a Google search and clicking on one of the first sites that appear.

Now, more than ever, a wealth of information is instantly available to students through their smartphones, tablets, and digital devices. But research skills are complex. The inquiry process involves critical and strategic thinking, skimming and scanning techniques, and evaluation of sources. Then information must be reworded and summarized, sources must be cited, and the results must be presented in a clear and appealing presentation. Learning an essential research process that can be applied throughout their academic years is critical for today’s students.

TechnoResearch

TechnoResearch is an all new project just released by TechnoKids Inc. that systematically teaches research strategies. Students not only learn foundational research skills, but they are also highly engaged as they create a fun fact card using Google Docs to showcase their knowledge. As they investigate a topic of their choice, students are guided through the research process:

  • Study samples – For inspiration and to gain an understanding of the research project, a collection of completed fun fact cards is surveyed.
  • Ask questions – Use the Research tool and Wikipedia to narrow the focus.
  • Create an outline – Organize ideas using headings.
  • Learn search strategies – Find multiple sources, assess if they are trustworthy and reliable, and learn how and why to cite the source.
  • Paraphrase and rewrite – Summarize and rephrase information to avoid plagiarism. Consider the reading level of the audience.
  • Build Word Processing Skills – Learn formatting techniques and add images to make a unique one page fun fact card.

Teach Research Skills

Using TechnoResearch, students learn skills to create a fun fact card on any topic.

The TechnoResearch technology project includes five additional, optional extension activities to challenge students further and build research skills. The goal of this project is to teach strategies that are transferable to any research project.