Teaching about searching

Our students do not seem to be very good searchers. I am not sure if it is because they haven’t learned to think in key word terms, think about synonyms, or if they are simply in a hurry. Our school is offering its first technology course in about 6 or maybe 7 years and our tech department has split up the instructing duties. While it is fun to be able to teach to personal strengths and interests, I find myself with a unit now that investigates the many aspects of Google. As our school “made the switch to Google” last spring, it is important for our students to understand the tools at their disposal, so the unit will explore Google docs, Picasa, Sites, Labs, and more, but we are starting with learning about the company of Google and then will move into searching.

I made this little activity for students to explore Google’s company history as an introduction and we will watch parts of CNBC’s Inside the Mind of Google today, but tomorrow I need to find a way to make searching and Google’s cool search features like site: searches and how to ¬†exclude key words engaging and memorable. I have found several lesson plans from Google’s resources, but am not yet comfortable with a plan. Any ideas?

Good resources from Scholastic

Scholastic is producing some impressive and free resources for many subjects and all grade levels (though the emphasis is K-8). What first caught my eye this week were the 27 interactive whiteboard activities for Language Arts, Social Studies, Science and Math with some additional “Learning Games and Teaching Tools.” From touring the Mayflower and learning about the first Thanksgiving and travelling the Underground Railroad, to creating a Character Scrapbook and more, the activities would be good with an interactive whiteboard but could also be used individually by students.

After a little more digging around Scholastic’s site, I found Make Your Case, which takes the user through the process of a court case in the role of an attorney. Fun for a courtroom-related unit, Mock Trial supplement or prep, etc.

Scholastic also has many lesson plans “browseable” by subject and grade level and ideas for thematic lesson plans throughout the year as well as many tips for teachers, learning tips for students, and other literacy-related resources. I was impressed that the company had such a broad range of material for more than merely elementary students.

Critical Thinking and Current Issues

Teachable Moment, a project from the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility, is focused on helping educators improve students’ critical thinking skills through the use of current issues and topics. With lesson plans and activities for every grade level, elementary, middle and highschool, as well as other ideas, it is a great idea generator for discussing topics of the day with students.