Friday, January 25, 2008

What I Like About

This week my students started a project in social studies called Three Worlds Collide. Their task is to research one of the three cultures that collided in the early history of our country: European, Native American, and African.

I wanted to make sure that my fifth graders would be successful in their research from start to finish. This meant that they must first know what questions to ask before even beginning to look for information, something difficult for kids at this age to do. It's also difficult for kids to think of the proper search terms to put in a search engine. Enter the search assist function of When searchers enter a term in the window, several possible keywords and phrases drop down (see example below). This is extremely helpful for the young student who has trouble knowing what to begin researching.

Yahoo also has search assist. I'm not as excited about it though. You get a full menu with whereas the Yahoo assist is a scrolling menu. Plus, the Yahoo search page is full of all sorts of other distractions and this makes the search window hard to find.

I had my students write down the search suggestions that Ask gave them and then use them as "guiding questions." We'll see on Monday how much they helped.

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Mike Frerichs said...

I like your suggestions here. I was about to put together a lesson for my elementary students using this post. The only problem I had with is it failed my "kid safe" test. If you type in the search term sex, you wind up with some very inappropriate sites. Even worse if you search blogs.

misterteacher said...

Do you really have to worry about your elementary kids doing a search like that during class? My kids wouldn't even think to do something like that. And even if they did, THEY would be the ones to get in trouble for doing it. I would hope that your administration would be sane enough to punish the kids and not you.

Mike Frerichs said...

Hi James,
Consider the outrageous cases that have appeared recently: The Julie Amero Case or the Florida school campus officer investigation that just showed up this week. I know you must have read the Wired article on that one or check out

To protect yourself, make certain that your school has some sort of written policy that you can follow. Ours is currently very restrictive: It does not allow elementary students to use Internet search engines without direct teacher supervision, and teachers are required to screen sites they use in the classroom. I always test the search boxes and the root folders on a web site. Even that doesn't always work. Last year I had a good link turn into a porn link on one of my webquests. Another teacher brought it to my attention.

At any rate, don't assume that it is the kid that will get into trouble. It only takes one kid and one parent to kick up a storm.