As with any skill, research takes practice. The more students search, the better they will become at finding what they need online. I use A Google a Day to “gamify” research in my classroom.
After I present tips for searching smarter, I want students to have ample opportunities to practice those tips and strategies. A Google a Day is a free game offered by Google that presents 6 trivia questions each day. If students opt to play the “basic game,” there is no sign in required and they can access the first three questions. If they sign in with their Google+ account, they have access to all six questions.
Students are timed and receive points based on how long it takes them to correctly answer each question. The faster students search, the higher their scores will be. New questions are posted daily and relate to a variety of categories ranging from sports to history to science.
Tips for getting the most out of A Google a Day:
Put students into “teams” or groups as they play. They tend to have more stamina when working together, and the competitive element motivates them to stay focused.
If possible, make sure each member of the group has a device. It’s fun to watch groups of students, devices in hand, doing simultaneous searches and talking about the information they are finding. The energy in the room during a Google a Day activity is electric!
If you are working with middle school students, the “basic game” with just three questions is probably enough for them. The questions are really challenging and require several searches to find the right answer. Asking them to do the full game with all six questions can be a bit overwhelming and cause research fatigue.
Play a game each week to keep research a part of your curriculum all year.
End each activity by asking groups to share their own search tips. What search strategies did they use that they found helpful? I’m a big fan of crowdsourcing information, so this is a great way to get students sharing what they learned after each activity.
For more on teaching students how to evaluate digital resources, check out my blog “Common Core: Evaluating The Credibility of Digital Sources.”