Tag Archives: research

instaGrok

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!
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KBears

I stumbled across KBears when I was in the middle of hunting down some not-so-intimidating sites for geography research for my younger students.  I have not investigated all of KBears, but I was immediately attracted to the geography portion as a potential resource for my 1st and 2nd grade Gifted and Talented students.  The site is very “cute”, making it attractive to the primary kids.  It is also fairly easy to navigate.  There is still some big vocabulary, but it is not overwhelming.  With printable maps, world music, and geography games, this is a great site to add to my teacher toolbox!

The Twenty Percent Project

Last year, a friend of mine told me about Google’s 20% Policy, and I immediately thought of its applications for the classroom.  It was among many of my ideas that I had for the new school year that just didn’t come to fruition.  And now, I find that a teacher named AJ Juliani had the same inspiration – but is actually following through with it.  You can read all about Google’s Policy, and how Mr. Juliani is applying it with his students here on the “Education is My Life” blog.  Be sure to read the comments that follow, as well.  It makes for an interesting discussion!

Geography Awareness Week

Next week, November 13-19, is Geography Awareness Week.  I think we can all agree that we could stand to brush up on our geography skills.  This site, produced by National Geographic, has some great activities for doing that.  You can print out a booklet of “missions”, or go to the online version.  The wording in the booklet is fun, and the missions are very creative.  For example, one mission is titled, “Alien Invasion”, in which the student is tasked to “Photograph evidence of where a non-native plant or animal has invaded a local ecosystem. Produce a ‘spotter’s guide’ to these invasive species.”  Many of the missions would make great activities any time of the year, so don’t feel restricted to squeezing all of your geography education into one week!

Cranium Club

I came across this classroom idea while I was playing with Pinterest.  Ms. Noble has a great method for reviewing concepts and challenging minds that she thoroughly explains on her website.  Although I would probably modify some of the activities, and add some more higher order thinking skills, this shows a lot of potential for motivating students and making sure that learning time is maximized.

Comparison Search

Today’s post comes from the same people who provide “Boolify”, which I highlighted yesterday.  In Comparison Search, the researcher gets the added benefit of searching for web sites that may have different points of view on the same topic.  It allows you to type in a keyword or phrase, such as “genetic engineering”, and to then choose the positive and negative search terms you would like to use, such as “advantages” and “disadvantages”.  The search results are then given in two columns, respective to your search terms.  As I mentioned yesterday, these searches are not “safe searches”, so teachers in primary grades probably should not let their students loose on this tool.  However, it can be quite valuable in trying to teach a lesson on the objectivity, or lack of it, on many websites.

Boolify

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.