Another Call for Search Literacy: I couldn’t agree more!

From John Battelle over at Search Blog.

John says:

Tonight I helped my daughter with homework. No big deal, right? But
tonight the assignment came from her fifth grade teacher: Define these
related words:



Civil Rights







Now, the teacher said there were two ways my daughter could find
out the definitions. One was to use a dictionary. And the second was to
“talk to your parents about it.”

John goes on to talk about how HE had to teach his daughter the define function in Google.
For those of you that don't know about this handy function, just go to your search browser and type

define: the word you want

Here is an example:  define: incumbent

It is the fastest way to define a word.  My first grader who can barely read can do it, but of course I taught him.

Search literacy includes Searching via Cell Phone
I would also add one more to this search literacy and that is how to define using a cell phone.  Once a child has a cell phone, they should know how to text to Google define: incumbent and have the message texted back to their cell phone.

This is part of what I teach! I also teach them other Google SMS functions how to translate words, look up map directions, and find business phone numbers and addresses for their GPS by calling Goog 411. I like the Google SMS service because it uses texting, which is a lot less expensive than internet browsing on a smartphone.

I totally agree with John Battelle.  This should be part of what we teach in schools!!  It is part of digital literacy!! 

These are the sorts of things our students are working out right now on the digiteen project this year.  What should kids know and how can we teach them.  Interestingly, we're using our ninth graders to help spread digital literacy throughout our entire school.  It is tough to spread these things throughout the school and teach people new “tricks.” 

Stop viewing Search Literacy as “tricks”
The sad thing is that so many people view the define function as just that, a trick.  It is not!  It is part of being an efficient, effective human being in the 21st century.  It is part of being literate.

And that, John, is the problem… most teachers aren't technically literate… not yet, but there are  a lot of us out here that are pushing and working to help the many amazing teachers who aren't quite there yet to get there. 

So, teachers.  In honor of John and his daughter.  Take time this week to teach the define function in Google.
Let us know how it goes.

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2 thoughts on “Another Call for Search Literacy: I couldn’t agree more!

  1. You are darn right! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. As a recent college graduate, search literacy was an important tool used by myself and my classmates in history to find what we couldn’t search for in the textbook – and I aced several vocab tests because I used Google the week before.
    If students can’t use all the tools available to them, the teacher isn’t really interested in preparing them for their own future.

  2. I really agree with you. I think it is very important for students to know how to properly search for information on the internet.

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