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Key words: refine, relevant

Task 1 – How ‘smart’ do you think your internet searches are? Out of 10 give yourself a score. Using your own or a  copy of this template: here. On your copy of hte template, write down 10 ways that you do a search on the internet. Number them 1-10.

When you have finished, compare your list with this list: here. Rescore yourself by comparing the search steps you listed, with the other list. Use the rule: if you have the same point, give yourself one mark. Add up your score at the end. If you like, take time to read the full article listed as the source.

Task 2  – Were you surprised at your score? If most internet users were honest, they would probably admit they usually type a question into the Google search box, click search and then choose one of the first three listed websites that appear.

Before doing task 3, write a journal entry entitled ‘My Search Behaviour’. Be honest about what you learnt from the list above by comparing your search behaviours. 

Task 3 – View this video – How Search Works. Have a look at this Smart Google searching summary: here. If you feel like thinking a little bit more about the design (i.e. algorithms) that sit behind search, have a look at this video called: How Does Google Know Everything about Me?

Task 4 – Use your Search Recording Template to record your thinking as you do the following search activities on caterpillars below. Be aware of how each part of the task is helping you refine your searches:

Who Knew There Were So Many Caterpillars!

  • Do a Google search for the keyword ‘caterpillar’. Record in your table what ‘types’ of caterpillar results you got, apart from the insect kind (Hint: heavy machinery, clothing, and employment.)
  • Use the ‘operator’ plus (+) with your keyword, such as caterpillar+insect to refine the search and filter out non-living things (such as companies and product brands). Record your thinking about how the use of the operator returns only websites relating to the insect caterpillar variety.
  • Do a search with the phrase the caterpillar, and then only caterpillar. What do you notice about using a keyword without common ‘stop words’ and punctuation such as ‘a’, ‘the’ ‘what’.
  • Change the operator to a minus (-) after the term (for example, ‘caterpillar – company’ will remove most of the results that refer to businesses, leaving mainly the caterpillar insect references.
  • Type in a specific keyword phrase in quotation marks so that your search only returns that exact phrase. For example, what search results does a specific phrase “very hungry caterpillar” give you? What if you were to type in the search without the quotation marks – how would your search results differ?
  • Use an ‘or’ to return results with one keyword or another. For example caterpillar OR butterfly. How could this search operator be useful?
  • Google is not the only search engine of the internet. If you can, try out some different search apps like: Yahoo, Bing, Kiddle, KidsSearch. Do you notice any differences?

Task 5 – Go back to your journal entry completed in Task 3. Make a new entry entitled ‘How I Plan to Refine (change) my Search Behaviour’. Write 5+ sentences in your journal about ways you plan to change your searches in the future and any ideas from the caterpillar activity that you think may be useful to you.

Task 6 – Think of a topic or project you are currently working on at school that you will need to perform some online searches for information. Draw up a table like the one you used for the caterpillar activity. Record interesting or relevant facts you have found from your more refined searching.

Task 7 – Create a ‘Refining Your Searches Guide’ for others to use. Feel free to adapt the content in the activity, but rephrase or paraphrase in your own words. Your guide can be in any form: video, presentation, Googe Doc, Prezzie.

Task 8 – Show someone at home or school your ‘Refining Your Searches Guide’. Discuss with the person how effective they thought your guide was and whether it could be improved.

Task 9 – Use the feedback you have been given to good use and update or change your ‘Refining Your Searches Guide’ to make it more effective.

Task 10 – Post your ‘Refining Your Searches Guide’ on your blog for others to learn from. If you know of other classmates or family members that may be able to use it for their searches, email them a link to your work.