I explained to students that we were going to use a search engine and keywords to help us find information quickly on the Internet. A keyword is a descriptive word used to find information. This saves us time and helps us find the exact information we need. I told them it helps to be specific with the keywords we use because there is TONS of information online (I intentionally used that term interchangeably.) and we do not want to spend too much time looking for the information we needed.
Next, I told students I was going to look up information about rainforests since that is a topic we are studying in science. I explained the keyword rainforest is too broad, so I needed to be more specific. I wanted to know about rainforests in Mexico. (I chose Mexico because most of my students have family in Mexico and visit often. They were really excited!) I said I wanted to know the name and location of the rainforest. I used an iPad and projected it onto the screen using a document camera. I modeled navigating to a search engine. I pointed out the search box and told them it was I where I was going to type in my keywords. I typed the keywords, rainforests and Mexico, into the search box. I pointed out how the keywords helped me find the list of websites that populated about rainforests in Mexico. I read through the list of links and selected a website to visit. I clicked on the website and read the text until I found the information I was seeking and wrote it on my three-tab organizer.
I wanted to practice with students to make sure they understood the concept, so I guided them through generating keywords for different topics. Students chose the topics and we generated the keywords together.
For independent practice, students were allowed to select a topic of their choice to generate keywords and conduct a search on an iPad. It was engaging for students to select topics of personal interest. I instructed them to choose something educational to prevent the possible selection of a topic inappropriate for school. They had to write the information on their three-tab graphic organizer, along with two interesting facts about the topic. This task served to prepare them for the short research project they would begin later in the week.
I circulated while students worked to make sure they were generating effective keywords. If they were having trouble with the concept, I guided them through the process of finding keywords with questioning. It helped students to verbalize their thinking as they thought through the process of narrowing their topic and summarizing it into a few key words. (See posted conversation.)
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I used a rubric to assess students. It was shared with them so that they knew the learning expectations. They were scored on the entire process of conducting an Internet search using keywords, which included the following elements: navigating to a search engine, inputting appropriate keyword, executing the search, navigating through resulting pages, and selecting one (or more) of the resulting pages. This was done to ensure students acquired the useful research skill of conducting an Internet search efficiently, not just generating keywords.
To cement today’s learning, students were instructed to write a sentence about what they had learned using 10 words or less. It had to include the words internet, search engine, and keywords. I did this to encourage students to use academic and technical language as they reflected on their learning.