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Teaching Students how to "Google It" to Learn Online Research Skills

Teaching Students how to "Google It"

Every school year I start my 4th and 5th grade classes with a unit about online research. I know there are some great "kid-friendly" search engines out there, and we do discuss them, but I think all students should know how to successfully use google. 

These units are a great opportunity to collaborate with the classroom teachers. Each class the students will need a new question to research. You could easily pull in content-area questions. If you don't work with the teachers, you can ask them to look up obscure technology words and phrases. 
Teaching Students how to Google It

My Process for Teaching Students how to Google It:

So here is how I do this. The first week that we start our online research unit, we read the book (affiliate link to the book followsI Read It on the Internet by Toni Buzzeo. Then we jump right into doing some googling. I require my students to keep what we call a google log to document their research. I put together a template of what I want included in the google log and link it to my website. Students download the template to their computers to work from. 
But I Read it on the Internet digital book companion for teaching students about finding reliable sources.

I really love that in this unit students are downloading from a website, saving to their computer, saving changes, and then having to find the file again each week and add to it - in addition to learning how to research!

In the template there is a full example (click here to see the template I use with students, and click here to see a screencast of the directions). I ask them to include name, date, question, answer, and source. As the weeks progress, we talk about finding more than one source that gives the same answer as a way of confirming the validity of the result. Eventually we include a full web page citation instead of just the URL. 
Every school year I start my 4th and 5th grade classes with a unit about online research. I know there are some great "kid-friendly" search engines out there, and we do discuss them, but I think all students should know how to successfully use google.

The first few weeks this will take more time than you plan. I give them a 20 minute deadline because they would just search forever. Google has changed over the last year or 2 in that sometimes the answer is right there on the google page. I still require them to click into a website to use as their source because they need to practice evaluating websites. 

If you're looking for learning modules that have everything set up for you and your students, check out this Research Skills Unit:
All about Online Search Copyright and Fair Use Evaluate a Website Judging Online Information Putting Info. Together Search Better Search Engines and Strategies

Or if you need something for grades 3-5, try this unit:

Or if you love Digital Breakouts (room escape challenges done paperless) then try out this set:
If you love incorporating literacy and tech together then you will want to check out these eBooks I've created on Online Research Skills topics:

I hope this gives you some ideas for how to start your school year. I hope your administrators are as impressed as mine are when they see what you students are accomplishing. 

Would you like some free Technology I Can Statements? Subscribe to my newsletter to receive 21 free technology I can statement posters as well as occasional updates and freebies from me. 

Brittany Washburn
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  1. Love the idea of asking them to look up answers and then document where they found them. Brilliant starting place for research!

    1. Thanks, Juliet! The first year I did this we had a normal 5th grade group and a really high 4th grade so both grades did the same questions. The next year I had to come up with new questions for the new 5th graders to challenge them and it was wildly successful. They knocked out their classroom research in half the usual time because of learning these skills.

  2. Definitely something all students need to learn! Thank you for sharing!

  3. I LOVE that you are doing this with the little ones! This is definitely a skill they will need. Thank you, Brittany!

  4. Just doing research on this same topic! Thanks so much. Will download it today!


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