Considering that the first part of its name is “Boo”, Boolify should probably have been yesterday’s Halloween post. It is still a timely site, however. Boolify is a simple tool for teaching students how to do web searches using basic Boolean Search Operators. There is the tool, itself, on the home page, as well as a few other resources under the “Lessons” link. The search results come from Bing, so this is not a “safe search” tool. However, it would be good to use for demonstration purposes with younger students. Older students may enjoy the simplicity of the tool, as well. This might be a good tool to use with Kentucky Virtual Library’s “How to do Research” site.
I have been reading about instaGrok on various blogs for a month or two. It is a search engine that “maps” your topic. In addition, it suggests videos and creates quizzes for your topic. There is even a toggle bar to change the level of complexity of the results. While I agree that it is a unique way to search for information, my brief explorations of the site did not make me feel that it belonged on this blog. Until yesterday.
A co-worker of mine, Kacie Germadnik, mentioned to me that she liked the “class” option in instaGrok, and had been using it with her gifted third graders for a research project. Curious, I actually registered for the site (which is free). It was then that I was able to realize the full power of this tool. As a teacher, you can create a class code. This enables your students to also register on the site without needing e-mail addresses.
You don’t need to register to use instaGrok for research, but being logged in allows you to “pin” information to a note-taking journal that can then be printed or e-mailed. This is an amazingly intuitive and user-friendly way to gather information about a topic on the internet.
And, if students are logged in under your class code, a teacher can keep track of their progress and search histories to make sure they are staying on the right track. This can also be useful for collaboration.
Thanks to Mrs. Germadnik for encouraging me to take a deeper look at instaGrok!