Monday, November 18, 2013

Internet Search Tools

The Internet provides a vast amount of information on any given topic. However, for kids, it is important to search the Internet with appropriate and useful search engines. There are a variety of search tools out there, each with its own pros and cons. I’ve listed below my “Five Favorite Search Engines for Kids” and given a short description about each.

This search engine teaches students the process of Internet searching. It guides students in language usage to find a certain topic. Students are given options such as “Exact Word or Phrase,” “Site,” and “Synonym” and then they provide the specific information for their search. This website would be especially useful in upper elementary middle school as students begin to understand how to refine a search.

This search engine includes a search box and also a list of content areas and subtopics. When searching, the searched word(s) appears red in the results. This helps students, especially ELL students, identify the term they are hoping to learn more about. The search engine also includes a Clip art search area that students could use if looking for pictures for a project.

Google Scholar refines the search results to scholarly literature only. It is a great tool to use with high school students when discussing appropriate sources for research. It also provides APA, MLA, and Chicago citation. However, many of the articles are not available directly to read and must be purchased or accessed through a different database. Google Scholar does not include any ads, so the content is limited to just the scholarly works. This search engine would not be appropriate for elementary or most middle school students as the results are too challenging.

KidRex is a Google-owned search engine for kids that is powered by Google SafeSearch and Google Custom Search technology. The interface is colorful and features a dinosaur and font similar to the writing of a crayon. The site does a good job of filtering inappropriate content, but it still may be more appropriate for upper elementary students. It also is a good instruction to Google, as it operates the same way.

This search engine includes a fun “cloud” feature. Students type in the word or phrase, which they want to search. The engine brings up kid-friendly websites but also brings up other searchable words in the “cloud.” On the interface, the “cloud” is actually a fun, bright, illustrated cloud. This helps guide students to other searchable words related to their topic.

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