Last week I asked my senior students how many of them entered a question into Google's query box. Almost all the hands shot up. Then I asked them how many used other search engines. A few of them mentioned 'Ask Jeeves'. It was clear that after four years of high school, most of my students only used Google and had not mastered search techniques beyond basic key words (which would have been an improvement over framing the query as a question).
Learning how to find relevant information and developing the ability to evaluate the credibility of the sources are perhaps the two important skills that our students need. This is basic information literacy and it needs to be taught and reinforced by all educators; not just in one class and by one teacher. That said, it would still be an improvement if it were taught at all. My worry is that teachers assume their students know how to search for relevant information. It seems that many have not yet learned this important literacy.
I am offering this easy reference sheet for teachers who don't have the time to learn all the cool tips and tricks for efficient web searching. This is a Google document that anyone can edit. I am certain that many people will have lots of great ideas to add to this open document. Click here to read what I have begun, add your contribution or simply share it with a colleague. Send it around and let's see what we can build.