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Daily Classroom Special
Bits & Bytes:  Searching

About this Daily Classroom Special
Bits & Bytes combines technology objectives, activity ideas, web sites, and resources in an effort to make it easier for everyone to incorporate technology into their instruction. Bits & Bytes is maintained by Barbara Smith, Magnet Coordinator at Harvard Elementary, Houston (TX) and Teachers Network  web mentor. 

To the Bits & Bytes Directory

K - 2

Apply keyword searches to acquire information.

3 - 5

Apply appropriate electronic search strategies in the acquisition of information including keyword and Boolean search strategies.

On the Internet, there are programs called search engines that will look up web pages for you. Once you type in the key term/terms, the program runs through its lists to yield those which have something matching what you typed. Any given search engine cannot search every website in the whole world - just the ones of which it has record. There are many different search engines on the World Wide Web, but some of the most popular are:

Go.com
GoTo.com
Lycos
Excite
Ask Jeeves
Alta Vista
Yahoo
Galaxy
Yahooligans

In addition, there are also meta-search engines, which will ask (query) several different search engines at once, thereby greatly increasing the number of sources searched. Some examples of meta-search engines are:

MetaCrawler
Dogpile
Multimeta
Direct Hit
Google
Debriefing
Infodump

Once you get your browser to point to one of these sites, you have to figure out how to find what you are looking for. Most search engines do Boolean searches. Modern computing is based on Boolean algebraic logic developed by George Boole, a British mathematician. Boolean searches use three "operators": AND, OR, and NOT. Used in conjunction, you may refine your searches.

For example, if you are looking for information on bees, you might specify your search by typing: 

bee OR honeybee (Let's you look for both terms.)
bees NOT quilt NOT baseball (Let's you preclude sites talking about quilting
bees or the Burlington Bees baseball club) bee AND predator (Let's you look for sites that mention animals that eat bees.)

Classroom Activities:

  • Have a Research Race. Let two teams of students look up information - one in an encyclopedia, one on the Internet.
  • Play a classroom version of game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"  Use questions from topics they have studied. Make one of their lifelines a brief Internet search.
  • Practice defining searches. Give students a question, and have them
    construct the Boolean search that precludes related terms or topics.
  • Have students include at least one web site in their next research project.

More reading:
Boolean Searching on the Internet [University at Albany Libraries]  Excellent descriptions and examples of Boolean operators.

Boole 
Biography of George Boole

 

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