Understanding Online Searching to Create Better Searches

Barbara McCarty
Teacher Copy LinkStudent Copy Link

Assignment Name:  Understanding Online Searching to Create Better Searches

Topic/Unit: Research Skills

Lesson Overview: In this lesson, students will use Learnics to gather and analyze data on their online search habits and then modify those techniques after learning how search works.


 Students will be able to

  • Explain the connection between how search tools work and the displayed query results
  • Determine key search terms in order to construct the most appropriate query for their information need 
  • Use Learnics data to better understand and build their own online search skills

1.  Students individually complete “Think, Puzzle, Explore” activity for a focused reflection on their knowledge of  online searching. Whole class discussion of answers.

2.  Using Learnics to capture students’ search activity, students will compete in pairs to complete a search query the fastest. Use a query that relates to a topic being studied in class or a high-interest topic like:

                       Can people make a living from tossing pizza dough all day? 

Find at least 3 strong websites to support your answer.  

3. Teacher will display the class search results from the Learnics Teacher’s view in the form of a word cloud (visual analytics - Search Word Cloud) or “Searches” in the classwide data.

Whole class discussion:

  • Which terms were most often searched? Was this effective?
  • Which terms seem unimportant?
  • Was your search successful in finding strong websites to support your answer?

4. Introduce “Determining What Matters in a Search” through this slides presentation.

5. Using their new understanding of search queries, students will use Learnics to capture their search activity as they complete one of the Google A Day Challenges, like:

      After coining the term “radioactive,” she discovered two radioactive elements. Which one is more predominant in cigarette smoke? (Found here)

6. After submitting their Learnics assignment, students will examine their data to answer the following Post-Assignment questions in Learnics:

  • Which terms did you choose for your search? Was this effective?
  • How did you use your knowledge of how search works to pick your search terms?

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