Friday, October 24, 2008

Custom Search Engines!!!

Another great tip I picked up from Alan November on Tuesday is that Google allows you to create custom search engines! Today, in a few very easy steps, I created a custom search engine for my elementary students to use. NT Music Composer Search Engine was born.

Mr. November explained that it can be a collaborative way for groups to work and select decent sites for the group to explore. Up to 100 people can collaborate on one search engine. I saw a different potential in my situation....Kids in my room are currently discovering "The Greatest Composer of All Time." Each group picked a composer and the only criteria is that the composer has to have created music before 1900. Students were allowed to change the person they chose at any time, providing that no other group was looking for the same composer. In the end, the students will 'present' the composer and explain why he/she should be named the greatest composer of all time. They give arguments, but there doesn't have to be a written component.

The problem is that I only see the sixth grade students twice a week for thirty minutes. As you know, kids can get lost on the Internet and find a lot of sites that won't help them. Also, although I don't want to get into the merits of Wikipedia on this blog, it is just easier to give kids a choice of quality websites than to argue the merits of the site. I believe we all should talk about reliable sources, but I don't want to give up a ton of class time to do it. Mr. November taught us that Wikipedia is usually in the top five or so of search results because of the number of sites that link to it.

Where I disagree with Mr. November is that one of his main points was that students need to be exposed to other ways of thinking. It seems to me that having high school kids come up with their own search engine might have the opposite effect. They might only find things that support their own views. It is interesting to think about.

Finally, in case this is not new information just to me, a how to! In Firefox or Flock (It apparently doesn't work in some browsers), go to the Google page and choose "more."
Choose "even more"

Then choose, Custom Search Engine.You must have a Google ID. Then name your search engine, add sites, and you are on your way.

Thanks, GOOGLE!!!! (and Alan November).

Now, go try out our new search engine. Try Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, etc.


Iowa State Fans said...

OMG like the best tip EVER.....he was a fabulous speaker, wasn't he! Amazing!

Anonymous said...

Thanks TJ for the great how-to.

TJ Shay said...

Iowa State Fans....Were you there??? I can't believe I missed you if you were. I was hanging out a lot at the Promethean Booth.... Did we meet?

Thanks for visiting and commenting!