Two third graders came in this morning looking for the dog books because they’d seen a dog and could not remember what it was called. It was driving them CRAZY!
They looked through the dog encyclopedias to no avail. Searching online for short, fluffy dogs yielded nothing. Then they told me that the dog had short legs. We added that to our Google search and found the answer in two seconds flat. It was a corgi.
Three cheers that this library media specialist began working with the students searching a concrete reference and then expanded the search to the web as more information was required to find the answer. You can read Maya’s blog here.
The story reminds me of an activity that I used to do with fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students. We would conduct a search on a topic of their choice. First the children would choose one keyword, search on Google, and write down the number of hits. Then they would use two keywords and write down the number of hits. Then three, four, and five. The young people were always amazed how the number of hits dramatically decreased and became increasingly accurate as keywords increased one-at-a-time.
Keywords do matter. More of them yield better answers. Understanding how to use keywords is a required 21 Century literacy skill for today’s learners.
You might also enjoy reading my post on curated online resources, 10 Ways to Help Students Evaluate Digital Information.