Power Searching with Google

As a school librarian in training, I harbor two dirty little secrets (as a regular person I harbor more than two dirty little secrets but those are staying my secrets :-)).

Dirty little secret one: I never return library  books on time. I mark the due dates down in my agenda/calendars and I even signed up for the email notifications but any book I check out still manages to make its way back to the library three to five days after it was suppose to be there.

Dirty little secret two is a bit more serious for someone who is going to be teaching others good research skills someday: I am a terrible searcher. I have never developed a real knack for coming up with useful search terms. The good news is I’ll be excellent at sympathizing with patrons and students who experience search frustration. The bad news is I’m pretty sure patrons and students are looking for their librarian to be the hero and help them find what they have been unable to on solo searches. Not for the librarian to smile knowingly and say things like, “I know, isn’t it the worst when you know what you want but just can’t seem to find it!”.

So, earlier this summer I was excited to hear that Google was going to offering free classes on “Power Searching with Google“.

The six classes each contained instructional, informative lesson(s) and activities for skill practice. Some of the early lessons were a little too basic (even for a stumbling searcher such as myself) but overall, I learned at least one new thing per class and found the whole experience a constructive and helpful use of my time.

While you can no longer sign up for the session, the classes are still available for viewing and using. Really, the only difference between what is available now and what I took this summer is that you no longer have the ability to earn a certificate announcing you are a Google Power Search Expert. (Don’t feel bad. I don’t have one either because you had to complete the classes and take the final exam by a certain date and I feel behind in my Power Searching Classes while focusing on a summer class assignment.)

So while I’m certainly not an expert searcher after taking the six classes I am a much better searcher than I started. I was so impressed with the simple yet effective lessons that I started thinking how useful they could be to help upper middle school and high school students learn to use Google (and other search engines) more effectively. As it turns out, Google was way ahead of me and my “genius” idea.

Google Search Education gives teachers lesson plans on a variety of search topics such as picking the right search terms, understanding search results, and verifying sources. The lessons are even broken down into beginner, intermediate and, advanced skill levels so you can tackle them with different grade levels and start the life skill of effective searching early with students. Even better, the Google provided lesson overviews and lesson maps already pinpoint the Common Core Standards addressed by the lessons.

Google also provides live tutorials and Search A Day Challenges that serve as a kind of virtual scavenger hunt for students to test their search skills. The Search Challenges are broken down by topic so you can even try to match up your search skill lessons with classroom related topics.

While Google isn’t the answer to every search need and often can’t be used for academic research needs, the fact remains that it is a regular part of students lives. To be the best, most efficient finders of information they can be, our students should know how to maximize this popular search engine. What’s more, some of the skills they learn in the Google Search Education lessons are universally useful when it comes to seeking information and conducting research. So, this semi-rehabilatated “bad” searcher highly recommends the Power Searching with Google lessons as well as Google Search Education, for you and your students.

What do you think? Have any of you used Google Search Education in the classroom? Do you have other favorite ways to teach students how to be efficient and effective searchers and researchers?

Thanks for stopping by,

~Serena

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