Friday, November 14, 2014

The Importance of the Keyword

Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity to work with a group of 4th graders start their research on various civil leaders. The students came to me with their questions and were ready to find the answers.

The first group was researching Abraham Lincoln, so I asked them what would be a good keyword to start off with, and they said (of course) Abraham Lincoln.

We looked at their first question, which was where/when was Abraham Lincoln born, and the students began to look around the screen for the answer. The keyword they selected wasn't good enough. So we brainstormed and the students decided to use Abraham Lincoln and the word born.

The students were amazed to see the information they needed just appear on the screen. We continued searching and exploring various keyword combinations.  The basic information was easy to locate, birthdate, birth place, and family. Things like personality traits and life obstacles were not so easy. Thankful this was not a one day lesson! 

One of my goals was for the students to gain a better understanding of just how important keywords can be when you are looking up information online. So why is this important? Without the right keywords, you may never find the information you need. Students need to learn how to take a large amounts of information and sort through it to find just what they need.  Had the students stuck with the first search "Abraham Lincoln", we would have had a too much information to sort through.

If your personal searching skills are lacking, don't worry there is a great collections of resources for you to use with your students (and yourself).

Google provides great resources to teachers to use in the classroom! Be sure to click on the Lesson Plans and Activities area. These lessons are great for all grade levels and can be taught over multiple sessions if needed.

Do a search for "research skills". You will find a variety of videos that show how teachers are facilitating activities with students on things like keyword selection and website selection.

You can find some great lessons and activities within the International Reading Association's website Read*Write*Think. Be sure to search the learning objective "inquiry/research".

These are not the only three resources, but they are a great place to start!

Do you use a great resource on keyword searches? If so, share it with us!


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