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Teaching the Google Generation

November 30, 2008

Over the past several months I have publicly stated that we need to seriously consider ending the practice of purchasing textbooks and focus on securing access to quality digital information. Recently in many community venues, I have spoken to the importance of students being able to critically evaluate the information they read on the Internet.  They need to be “digitally literate.”

For example, let’s say a student is doing a project on whales for a science lesson. A quick Google search turns up this possible site. Without digital literacy skills, the student may end up asking their teacher to take the entire class to South Haven to go whale watching.

For the Google Generation, the ability to search and evaluate information for accuracy, topic relevance, authority and objectivity is key.  We are in the beginning stages of reviewing our kindergarten to fourth grade technology curriculum.  As we work through this process, our focus will be on preparing our students to be digitally literate and critical thinkers when researching information.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 1, 2008 1:49 pm

    Scot,

    Google sure beats having to shuffle down to the Library and look up random information in an encyclopedia! Our kids will be able to assemble, process, and build so much more information than we ever did. The trick is more about getting them to WANT to gather, process, and build information! And that’s what we look to our outstanding teachers to spark in our kids.

  2. Staci Nazareth permalink
    December 2, 2008 10:46 am

    I agree that kids MUST be taught to be critical evaluators of info they find on the internet. There is already in every building someone who has been trained to teach these skills- the library media specialist. One of the problems is getting every teacher to buy in to allowing us time before research lessons to teach the kids these skills. Also, there is a problem in “scaffolding,” “spiraling,” or “sequencing” these skills and building on them from grade to grade. I’m glad to see that we are going to evaluate the curriculum, because it needs to be taught.

    What I do in my building is sit the kids down before they use the internet for research and give them my “Google VS Anti-Google” speech, and introduce them to the library website, which is their portal to quality information gathering.

    I hold up both hands and tell them that Google is in the one hand, and the opposite of Google, “Anti-Google” is in the other. How much does Google cost? Nothing. Then, Anti-Google must cost money. Who can post information to Google? Anyone-any nutjob, crackpot, university professor. So who can post searchable info to Anti-Google? Only selected people. When you search Google, how many hits are you likely to get? Millions. Do you have time to search a million hits? Then, Anti-Google must have lets hits. Now, if I pay for information, what kind of information am I likely to get? Good information. Then, I reveal what Anti-Google is: databases.

    I let the kids know that the Saline School District pays money every single school year so that every single kids has access to databases such WebPath Express within the library catalog, and Grolier Online Encyclopedias. They can access this information from any computer with internet access. We tour both databases. Webpath Express can even be customized to the student’s reading level, and Grolier Online is like giving each student 4 shelves worth of reliable, updated encyclopedias.

    We talk about using the library website to find information BEFORE accessing Google, and only using Google with teacher permission after they have exhausted all other resources. And, I let them know that one of the best search engines they can find is me. If they can’t find the information they want, I can.

    If their assignment directs them to utilize newspapers and magazines, I tell them that the State of Michigan has already paid for them to have access to newspapers and journals across the country through Mel.org Then, we visit the Mel.org site and do some practice searches using the Infotrac Student and eLibrary elementary databases. These databases will cite sources, highlight key words- they can even email copies of the document to themselves for later reading.

    Kids in our building are still young and have problems determining the key words that they need to use, so directing them to databases is very valuable, and prepares them to use all the other databases that are available in the high school.

    See some of the databases in use at the Middle School and other schools by visiting my website: http://sites.google.com/a/saline.k12.mi.us/middle-school-library/

  3. December 2, 2008 2:38 pm

    Staci,

    Most importantly, you’re teaching our kids how to critically view information. It’s easy to get the info using Google. The real skill comes in interpreting the info, once received. Thanks for what you do for our kids.

  4. Deb permalink
    December 2, 2008 6:19 pm

    Thank you Staci. This is good information. I have found that I have difficulty advising “where to start”. My first thought is Google. I bookmarked your site and now that is where I will direct when the question pops up again.

  5. December 10, 2008 12:47 am

    Google is committed to one thing, giving the consumer the best most accurate search available. The first three pages give the best results for the key words they search under.
    70% of all people start on Google, but the pay per click ads or sponsored ad’s give the best results and have a higher conversion rate.
    According to Mike Lorenc who spoke at the Saline Chamber a few months back.

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