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8 of the Best Research Tools for Inquiry

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Classroom Management, Download, Evaluate, Inquiry, Internet Safety, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 03-01-2017

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8 of the best research tools for inquiry

As an inquiry based school, Anastasis students (and teachers) spend a LOT of time researching. Our students essentially build their own living curriculum as they follow a line of inquiry. Below are my very favorite research tools for students.

Research platforms:

1. Kiddle– This is a kid-friendly, Google Safe powered search engine. What I appreciate about Kiddle is the ease of use for younger learners. Kiddle searches safe sites that were written FOR kids. Kiddle editors hand choose sites that deliver content that is age-appropriate and written in easy to understand language. Best of all, Kiddle’s image and video searches brings about the results you would expect it to for kids. When a student innocently types in “kitten” looking for cute pictures to add to a presentation, they get actual pictures of the feline variety rather than the scantily dressed woman named “Kitten.” So, winning!

The downside to Kiddle: if you have older students doing research on social justice issues, “sex trafficking statistics in America,” they will get an “Oops” message for questionable language. It might not be robust enough as a research tool for jr. high and high school students depending on the issues being explored.

Kiddle- Safe visual search engine for kids

2. Boolify– The best thing about this Google Safe powered search engine is the way it teaches learners how to correctly use a search engine and how to refine their searches. Boolify teaches this skill by asking them to use keywords and Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) in a search to refine results using a drag/drop interface. Students drag elements and follow prompts to learn how to correctly complete a search to get the best possible results.

Boolify- teach students to search smarter

3. Wolfram Alpha– This is not really a search engine, but more of a computational knowledge engine. It is a fantastic tool for comparing information (think people in history, weather in different parts of world, etc), exploring mathematics, units and measures, data/statistical information, science, geography, technology…truly you should just go play with this knowledge computational engine because my description isn’t doing justice to the cool things it does! This is a powerful addition to inquiry. My favorite feature is the ability to compare things side by side. The nature of inquiry often has students exploring relationships between events, people, places, etc., Wolfram makes it really easy to do this!

Using Wolfram Alpha for Inquiry Research

 

4.  Creative Commons– This is a great place to search for images, videos, sounds that are listed under the Creative Commons license that lets learners find content they can share, reuse, and mix into something new. The caution I would add here for kids: Anyone can list content under the Creative Commons license and depending on the search, some questionable material may pop up. This one is best used with supervision! Creative Commons is a great place to start a conversation about licensing and using content created by others.

Creative Commons Search

Resources to help learners work through research independently

5. Michael Friermood who writes The Thinker Builder has a great graphic organizer to help learners work toward independence in their research. You can find it HERE.

Inquiry Research Graphic Organizer from The Thinker Builder

 

6. Create a culture of thinking by giving your learners the tools to help them through a variety of thinking routines. This is an awesome resource when students hit a wall with a “closed” inquiry question (one that is too narrow and has one answer). It is equally useful when students aren’t sure how they can expand their research. These thinking routines will help them “open” questions and think from new vantage points and angles that may set them off down a path of new or expanded inquiry.

Tracy Ann Clark created this fun-to-use, and great resource for helping learners explore these thinking routines…because who doesn’t love a cootie catcher?! Find it HERE.

Visible Thinking Routines Cootie Catcher Tracy Ann Clark

 

7. Anatomy of a Google Search- this PDF helps learners understand the how and why behind a search.

Download the PDF HERE.

Anatomy of a Search- Free PDF Download

8. Google Modifiers cheat sheet- this is a good one to explore with students and then hang on the wall as a reminder!

Download the PDF HERE.

Google Modifier Cheat Sheet for Students

Want to learn more about how we run our inquiry powered k-8 classrooms at Anastasis? Join us for our conference in February! 5Sigma Education Conference

Gooru: Fantastic new education search engine

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Open Source, Science, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Video Tutorials, Websites | Posted on 12-07-2012

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What it is:  Gooru is a education search engine for learning that helps teachers find standards aligned content and study guides.  5th-12th grade math and science topics are covered and include resources like digital textbooks, animations and instructor videos.  Gooru provides a place to connect with your worldwide personal learning network to share and ask questions.  Gooru is not just for teachers, students can use the study guides and self assessments to guide learning.  Based on the topics studied and the performance on self-assessments, Gooru begins to suggest resources and study guides to help gain mastery.

Gooru takes advantage of OER (Open Educational Resources) so that all content delivered can be accessed free of charge.

You can explore Gooru through resources, collections, quizzes, a standards library or a search engine.

How to integrate Gooru into the classroom: Gooru is a great step toward helping you personalize the learning experience for your students.  Use Gooru to find resources for your classroom and for individual students.  Invite students to create their own logins so that they can setup Gooru to be tailored to their specific needs.  As they study and take quizzes, Gooru gets “smarter” and begins to recommend content for them.

Gooru is ideal in a 1 to 1 classroom set up.  If you don’t have 1 to 1 access, much of the content can be shared using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Because of the nature of Gooru, it could be a great addition to the flipped classroom model.

Tips:  Gooru is currently in beta, sign up to help them test it out and make it better today!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Gooru  in  your classroom!

What do you love: Google’s multi-search search engine

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Blogs, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 23-04-2012

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What it is: What do you love is a nifty little search space from Google that I ran across today.  Apparently I’m late on this one, everyone was blogging about it a year ago!  Ah well, can’t win ’em all.  With What do you love, students can type in a search term and instantly get results grid-style from Google images, create an alert, find patents, look at trends, email someone about the topic, explore the search in 3d with SketchUp, find books, watch videos, translate into 57 languages, organize a debate, find blog posts, maps, call someone, start a discussion group, plan an event, view it in Google Earth, create a instant bookmark to the search, or make the search mobile.  This is a super way to help students organize and view information and options for sharing from one place.

How to integrate What do you love into the classroom:  What do you love is a great tool for helping students learn about how searches work.  Students can instantly see a variety of search options and can begin comparing/contrasting results from the different streams.  Ask students to consider which types of searches lend themselves to each type of search (images, video, web, blogs, maps, etc.).  It is nice to have a one-stop shop of search results all within one page like this.  Students can quickly look at the top items from each available stream and decide from that one point which option best fits their search needs.

As a teacher, this search option is incredibly valuable for the time it saves.  Working on a new thematic unit or unit of inquiry?  Type it into the search terms and immediately find related books, videos, and other resources to help you maximize your time and effort.

I think that the trends are fascinating to look at and speculate about.  Are your students studying current events or an event in history (Titanic anyone)?  It is really interesting to see how the trend of the search topic changes over time.  Ask students to speculate and think critically about the rise and fall of certain topics.

Did you know that Google will help you organize and start a debate with moderation?  Me either.  It is a pretty neat little service that gives everyone a voice and lets students gather input from a large audience.  This could be a great way for students to get help with brainstorming, collecting public opinion or in preparation for a presentation they are giving.  This is an option I would only use at the high school level (it is for 13 and above).  I haven’t played with it long enough to receive inappropriate responses, but I’m sure they slip through.  This is also a great way for students to get more opinions or input about a topic they love.  Right now the top topic on the Moderator site is about Minecraft.  This is HUGE with our students right now, they cannot get enough!

What do you love would be a great site to bookmark on your projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard so that students can do searches about topics they are interested in as a class.  Using What do you love this way gives you the opportunity to help students wade through results and practice discernment in what is accurate and good information for the topic being searched.  I don’t know about you, but YouTube is the first place my students head when they are going to learn something new.  I think this is because the video medium is preferred over the text results where they have to wade through information to find what they are looking for.  Most students tell me they go to YouTube first because it is easy to know within a few seconds whether a video is going to give them the information that they want (forget deciding if it is a credible source).  YouTube IS a wonderful place to learn something new, I often go there myself, but it is nice for them to see other results along side the video.  As educators it is our job to teach students how to be discerning about the information they collect and how to use that information appropriately as it relates to the task they have been given.

Tips: Fair warning, this is a search engine.  You can’t always guarantee that what a student searches will come up with appropriate results.  I often remind students that if they come across anything that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused they should tell a trusted adult so that we can sit down and help them work through what they found and offer recommendations for a better search.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using What do you love in  your classroom!

Quixey: Your go-to app search for ALL platforms!

Posted by admin | Posted in iPod, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 07-11-2011

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What it is:   Have you ever attempted an app search?  It is a miserable experience, unless you already know what you are looking for, you are out of luck!  Quixey changes all of that by powering app searches across multiple platforms (Android, Bada, BlackBerry, Chrome extensions, Chrome web apps, Facebook, Firefox add-ons, IE add-ons, iPad, iPhone, Mac, Symbian, Web, WebOS, Windows, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone).  Quixey works with manufacturers, carriers, search engines and platforms to create a custom app search solution.  Quixey uses what they call “functional search” just for apps.  When you use Quixey, you don’t have to know the app’s exact name or “official” description to find the app.  Quixey scans blogs, review sites, forums and social media to learn what each app can do and how people are using it.  The Functional app search isn’t dependent on keywords.  When you search an app, you can type in the kind of app you are looking for.  Easily narrow your search by device.  Next to the device, you can see how many apps are related to your search making it simple to see how much digging you will need to do.  Next to each app that comes up in your search, there are snippets: short pieces of information that help you decide if the app will do what you need it to.  Need to narrow it down even more? No problem, Quixey let’s you organize by paid or free apps, or filter by a custom advanced view.  Very handy!

How to integrate Quixey into the classroom: If you or your students use ANY of the above platforms, Quixey is a must!  Hunt down the exact app you need quickly and easily.  Have a mixed platform classroom? Quixey makes it simple to see where app crossover is possible for the classroom.  This is one handy search engine!

Be sure to bookmark Quixey on classroom computers for easy access to an anytime search. When you find an app you are interested in, click for more information, screen shots of the app and a link to the app store.  You can even tweet the app out or share it on Facebook!

Tips: When you click on an app, Quixey will even redirect you to the appropriate app store for download!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Quixey in  your classroom!

Webspiration Wednesday: Sleedo

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 21-04-2010

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Today, I am doing something a little different for Webspiration Wednesday.  As a staff, we still gathered for Webspiration Wednesday finishing the Guy Doud video from last week.  Since I have already summed that up in this post, I thought I would write about a webspirational website instead.  Sleedo is a great Webspiration Wednesday website.

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What it is: Sleedo is a search engine that I learned about from @cspiezio today on Twitter.  This is a search engine with a mission to better the world with each and every search.  Every time you search using Sleedo, 10 grains of rice will be donated to help feed the poor.  Sleedo is a Google powered search engine.  Sleedo makes money through advertisements and donates that money to the World Food Programme, feeding those in need.  So, for every search you do, you are helping improve the lives of people around the world.  Pretty cool right?

How to integrate Sleedo into the classroom: Set up Sleedo as your homepage on classroom computers.  When students perform searches, they can be doing double duty: searching and helping the hungry around the world.  Sites like Sleedo are wonderful vehicles for teaching students about empathy, world issues, and compassion.  Have your students dig in and learn more about how the World Food Programme operates or take a closer look at how website advertising works.

Tips: I have found that students are passionate about websites with a cause (Free Rice, Free Corn, Aid to Children, Free Kibble, Free Kibblekat). Often students feel helpless to do something important that makes an impact on this world.  Sites like Sleedo help students enact real change that they can feel proud of.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Sleedo in your classroom.

Middle Spot

Posted by admin | Posted in History, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 11-11-2008

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What it is:   Middle Spot is a spectacular new search engine for teachers, librarians, and students performing research.  Middle Spot lets you see your results, you can pan and zoom individual website results.  Workpads allow you to save and annotate results and sort by collections.  Workpads can also be shared with others (colleagues, students, or professional learning communities).  What I love about Middle Spot is the blending of the traditional search results (listed along the left side of the screen) with the snapshot results where you can see the results.  When your cursor scrolls over a screen shot, the related traditional result and information is highlighted on the left making it very quick and easy to find exactly the results you are looking for.  Middle Spot allows you to search the web or search images, very handy!

 

How to integrate Middle Spot into the classroom:   Middle Spot is a great place for students to do research because of the ability to organize their finds and ideas right in the search engine with workpads.  If students are working on group projects, they can share their findings and workpads with others in their group.  Middle Spot is also ideal for teachers, collect your search results in one place based on topic or curriculum objectives and share with colleagues.  Create your own “webquest” with Middle Spot by creating and sharing a workspace with your students.  Make workpads for whole class lessons with an interactive whiteboard or projector to save yourself from typing in each url for the activity individually.

 

Tips:   Middle Spot is truly my new favorite search engine.  Your students will love the ability to take notes about websites and cite their sources as they go in the workpads.  It really is well designed for the classroom setting!

 

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Middle Spot in your classroom.

Search Me

Posted by admin | Posted in Internet Safety, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 28-05-2008

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What it is: I have been testing the Beta version of a new search engine called Search Me for the past few months and today the public beta was released for everyone. Search Me is really unique…it lets you search webpages the way that iTunes cover flow works. Their motto is “You’ll know it when you see it.” The engine is very easy to use and brings up great results with the ability to narrow down a search by category. For example, when I do a search on “dogs” It brings up the websites to browse through as well as icons to narrow down my search and gives me options of searching “dogs”, “pet stores”, “hunting”, “pet health”, “savings and bargains”. This is a great engine for teaching your kids how to search effectively for what they are looking for. The best part is the cover flow like feature that lets you flip through actual websites. Yellow squares appear on each site where your search word pops up and when you hover over a site, the site description pops up. There are safe settings so that adult content is automatically filtered out and you can flag a website as inappropriate right from the search results without actually traveling to that website.

How to integrate Search Me into the classroom: Search Me is a really great way for students to perform searches on any subject. They get instant feedback based on the sites that come up if their key words were too broad, narrow, etc. They can also preview sites right away and can often tell if it is what they are looking for without actually traveling to the website. The ability to narrow down a search by category is also a great option! Try Search Me out with your students, I know they will love it!

Tips: Search Me has a free tool bar that can be integrated into your web browser with the click of a button making it simple for kids to perform a search in one step.

Leave a comment and share how Search Me is working for your students.

Google Posters

Posted by admin | Posted in Internet Safety, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 25-02-2008

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What it is: Google Posters are printable posters offered by Google for educators. The posters can be printed in different sizes and teach students how to perform better searches.

How to integrate Google Posters into the classroom: I am realizing lately just how clueless students are about performing a quality search. Teachers are not exempt from this, I have had many educators tell me that it took them 3 hours to perform a search to find a state flower. What this tells me is that they don’t know how to search. Google Posters can be handed out as an individual handout, hung around the classroom, or both. The posters are found in Google’s Educator section. The posters teach students (and teachers) how to use modifiers to refine searches for the best results, the anatomy of a search, how to find a book using books.google.com, and examples of how to go about a search. Use these posters to teach your students how to do a quality search and then pick a topic for them to search and have a Google scavenger hunt. Students will learn how to use search engines and increase productivity.

Tips: Make sure that you have tested your scavenger hunt before you let your students loose, sometimes you will get results that aren’t appropriate for your students.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Google Posters in your classroom.