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 Ask.com. 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 Ask.com 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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