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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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Always Learning October 23, 2008 - 3:14 pm

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.

Caleb October 28, 2008 - 6:26 pm

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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