Strategic Searching

Each year I partner with our phenomenal 7th grade history teacher to do a lesson on Strategic Searching and ProQuest.

The students are tasked with finding information about an issue in Latin America; however, if they put Issue in Latin America in a search in ProQuest they will get tens of thousands of results. So, before we look at ProQuest, the students practice some keyword searching to identify good keywords to use and help narrow their search results.

For the first activity students play a keyword game. For differentiation, I have three game options ranging in degree of difficulty from easiest to hardest.

Google a Day is definitely a challenge but so, so fun! We all do Google a Day at the end and then use the archived Google a Days for more practice! I read the question and then the students race to be the first one to find the answer. The better your keywords the more quickly you find the answer! The students get better as they attempt more Google a Days and they learn about history at the same time! Additionally, we make each student share which keywords he or she used when he or she is the first to answer the Google a Day. The best part is that the students actually have FUN with the librarian and the lesson! 🙂

Next, we go to ProQuest and talk about using good keywords to narrow our search. The students are then tasked with selecting keywords to find an appropriate article to use for their assignment.

I am always looking for interactive ways to make students better digital resource users. If you have any sites or ideas that have been helpful please do share! Thank you!

3 thoughts on “Strategic Searching

  1. Ellen, I love that you do some search stretches before diving into Proquest! And Google a Day is such a fun way to make that connection for students. I’m wondering, when you talked about using good key words on Proquest, how did you facilitate this discussion? Were students able to brainstorm a list of possible “issues” in Latin America? Did they do some background searching/reading about Latin America and then they stumbled upon issues? I have trouble with the timing/order of these things in my own lessons sometimes. Thanks for sharing!

  2. That is a great question!! I am definitely open to ideas for improvement on this!! It is always a challenge…but a fun one!! We first look up issues in Latin America in Proqest and get sooooooo many results!! I ask how we can make our search more specific using keywords. I ask how we can do this for Latin America and they suggest countries, cities, etc. For issues I tell them they can look at things like government or entertainment or sports…so we usually end up looking at sports in Brazil! I love the Olympic articles!! 🙂 Not a perfect approach…but they keep using Proquest all year so the repitition definitely helps! If you have any suggestions or projects that you do for keywords please let me know! I can definitely use some good ideas and suggestions! Thank you!!

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