6-12, Critical Thinking, Education, Games, Research, Teaching Tools, Websites



UPDATE 6/9/2020:  Unfortunately, Gwigle seems to not be available any longer.  However, you can still create your own Gwigle-type game for classroom use.

Yes, you read that right!  Gwigle is a site that bills itself as “an educational game to help you use Google more effectively.”  Apparently, Gwigle has been around for awhile (since 2006, at least), but I just discovered it.  The concept is that you are given a short list of search results, and you have to guess the search term.  Along the way, you are given access to different search tips, and learn a little about how to refine your searches.  I think that Google searches have changed a bit in the last 6 years, but it’s still a fun and challenging game that teaches some basic search skills.  If you are interested in trying it, or having your students try it, I found a very helpful blog post by “Sophie”, in which she listed all of the answers.  Another idea might be to develop your own Gwigle type game in the classroom, possibly using vocabulary words or historical events as search terms, and using it as a different way to review for your students.


Google Search Education

Google for Educators offers several free resources.  One of the links will take you to a suite of free classroom posters.  As I was recently discussing how to “narrow down a search” with my gifted students, I found the “Google Search Tips for Kids” poster to be exceptionally helpful.  If you are looking for other Google resources regarding searching, there is also a “Search Education” site by Google that offers lesson plans on how to “effectively use web search.”  Here is a link to some slides that display “Google a Day” challenges for practicing search skills or you can visit the live “Google a Day” challenge on the web.

3-12, Education, Independent Study, Research, Teaching Tools, Web 2.0, Websites


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!