Monday, December 14, 2009

Research Tools: Be the Spider

Cross posted at:

Be the spider, not the bee
When looking for food, the bee travels from flower to flower to flower. This is the traditional way that we think about researching. We go to a search engine and jump from web page to web page to web page. This is tiring and inefficient. Instead, we need to be like the spider.

The spider spins a web and waits for his food to come to him. He doesn't waste time. He has found a better way to make what he wants come to him. So, how can we do that as researchers?

BEE A Better Searcher: Google Smarter, Not Harder

Using Better Search Terms and Options
  • It's all about your search terms. Before ever putting a word into the Google search box, first spend some time coming up with 5 - 10 specific search terms. In fact, refer to these pages to help you refine your search terms.

  • Use quotation marks to limit results. Putting quotation marks around your search terms tells Google to return results that include only that exact phrase. This is especially important to use when you are looking for research on uniquely worded or specific terms. For example, there are over 16 million results for India's water supply but only 186,000 results for "India's water supply," and the results that are returned when using the quotations are more relevant.

  • Search within a specific website (site:) Google allows you to specify that your search results must come from a given website. For example, by typing India Google will return pages about India from the New York Times website. You can broaden this, too. If you type India, you will get results from a .gov domain.

  • Use the minus to limit what your search returns. When you put a minus before a word in the search box, Google will not return sites that include that term. For example, by doing a search like salsa -dancing (notice there is no space between the minus and dancing), the minus will remove "dancing" from the search results you get back.

  • Define: Need a quick definition? Type define: word and viola! An instant definition!

  • Use OR to refine your search. Google's default behavior is to consider all the words in a search. In fact, you don't need to use and because this is Google's default. If you want to specifically allow either one of several words, you can use the OR operator (note that you have to type 'OR' in ALL CAPS). For example, Philadelphia Phillies 2008 OR 2009 will give you results about either one of these years, whereas Philadelphia Phillies 2008 2009 (without the OR) will show pages that include both years on the same page.

  • Use the tilde to find synonymous search terms. Adding the tilde (~) before a search term will help broaden your search because the tilde tells Google to return not only the search term you specified, but also terms that Google thinks are synonymous with your term.

  • Use an asterisk to find a quick answer. Sometimes the best way to ask a question is to get Google to fill in the blank by adding an asterisk (*) at the part of the sentence or question that you want finished into the Google search box. How many MPH can the world's fastest man run? Ask Google by typing the world's fast man can run * MPH.


GOOGLE SEARCH OPTIONS: Search smarter using timeline searches, scholar searches, and book searches

  • Google Books: Search full texts of books (hint: use the search box to the left of the book's pages)

  • Google Scholar: Search scholarly online journals, presentations, and texts

  • Google News: Search worldwide news sources

Tips and Tricks for Searching Sources Faster
  • Control + F opens a find box at the bottom of the page to make searching within a document for specific information even easier. This works on any web page.

  • Search a specific site by using site:

  • Kite Runner will return pages on my site that mention Kite Runner

  • India water shortage will search educational sites for mention of India's water shortage issues

  • filetype:.pdf (or .doc or .ppt, etc.) will help you find specific file types (this can also be done from the advanced search

How Do I Know I Have Reliable Source?
1) Always check your work: validate the information by looking at multiple sources
2) Credibility =trustworthiness + expertise Strategies to determine trustworthiness and expertise:
  • Check the "About" section - look at who is publishing the site, the author's credentials, sponsoring organization, citations to other works. Use this to assess the bias.

  • The URL - is the web site from an organization you've hear of?

  • Type of page - is it someone's personal page?

  • Type of domain - .edu sites are generally more believable than some others

  • Where - is the site hosted in another country?

  • Is there a date and an author?

  • Do others cite this source? Use link: to see what links to a website
Information from this presentation

Make the WEB Work Harder:
Google Alerts
  • Create Alerts to send relevant news resources to your email inbox. BE THE SPIDER!

Access Your WEB of Research Anywhere:
Online Bookmarking

Professional Development Links

  • Teach Digital: Curriculum by Wes Fryer / ingredients
    Good teaching is similar in many ways to good cooking. Recipes are helpful, but master cooks often modify those to meet different needs and situations. The same is true for teachers. If we extend this analogy of cooking to teaching and learning in a web 2.0 world, what are the best "ingredients" to use as we help both teachers and students learn to be more effective, safe, and powerful communicators in our flat world? As we blend learning by providing digital opportunities to interact with content and individuals along with face-to-face, synchronous interaction, we can increase student engagement as well as student achievement.
  • Authentic Assessment Toolbox Home Page
    The Authentic Assessment Toolbox is a how-to text on creating authentic tasks, rubrics and standards for measuring and improving student learning.
  • principals - legal
    CIPA, COPPA, and FERPA Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) * FCC Summary * Judicial Interpretation of CIPA's Unblocking Provision: According to the Supreme Court, a library that is required to filter can either disable the filter or unblock a site in response to an adult patron request to do so. Justice Rehnquist stated "[a]ssuming that such erroneous blocking presents constitutional difficulties, any such concerns are dispelled by the ease with which patrons may have the filtering software disabled. When a patron encounters a blocked site, he need only ask a librarian to unblock it or (at least in the case of adults) disable the filter." FCC Order 03-188 subsequently instructed libraries complying with CIPA to implement a procedure for unblocking the filter upon request by an adult.
  • educon22 - home
    What is EduCon 2.2? EduCon 2.2 is both a conversation and a conference. And it is not a technology conference. It is an education conference. It is, hopefully, an innovation conference where we can come together, both in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will be an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas -- from the very practical to the big dreams.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Google Goodies: Links

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Even More Kite Runner Links

  • Film Education | Resources | The Kite Runner | Background
    'The Kite Runner' has many different layers, these include political policy and tribal and religious dimensions. To help to under these elements, Film Education spoke with Adbul-Rehman Malik Contributing Editor from Q News to help us understand the context behind the story. Q News is Britain's leading Muslim magazine, providing outside-the-box analysis of current affairs, culture, ideas and spirituality.
  • Kite Runner Lesson Plan
    Links in the schedule connect to handouts and projects related to reading Kite Runner
  • Following Amir A trip to Afghanistan in which life imitates art
    Amir will be the first to tell you that he is neither the noblest nor the bravest of men. But three years ago, he did something both noble and brave: He went back to Afghanistan, then ruled by the Taliban, to settle an old score. He went back after a 20-year absence to atone for a sin he had committed as a boy. He went back to rescue a child he had never met, and to rescue himself from damnation. The journey almost cost him his life. The thing is, I was the one who sent him. It was easy. After all, I created Amir; he is the protagonist of my novel, "The Kite Runner."
  • Curriki - TheKiteRunnerUnit
    This table of contents provides an overview to the materials contained in this novel unit. The table is broken down into the Curriki folders found in this collection so all teachers can easily find all the resources available in this novel unit.
  • Spence's Stuff / The Kite Runner
    Lesson plan for The Kite Runner
  • kiterunnerwebquest - The Kite Runner Webquest
    Today starts the adventure of immersing yourself into Afghan life. As a youth, you spent many hours making, flying, and running kites. You knew that someday you would help your own kids enjoy these same activities, until 1994 when the Taliban stepped in and halted all kite flying. It's an important part of your culture; the significance of kite flying is an analogy to Afghanistan's history; you cannot let this interference continue.
  • CCHSEnglishII - The Kite Runner
    Pre, during, and post reading activities for The Kite Runner.
  • The Kite Runner - English Companion
    So many resources are mentioned in this thread found on the English Companion's Ning. Check it out!
  • Multicultural Literature - The Kite Runner
    Synopsis / Description: The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, is a story about the past, and rectifying the mistakes of the past. The protagonist, Amir, grows up in Kabul, Afghanistan, before the Russian invasion of the land. As children, Amir and Hassan play with slingshots and kites, tell stories, make errands to the market. They are not unlike two boys playing in any part of the world. Students will hopefully notice that human nature is the same across borders of time and place. However, they should also notice and appreciate the differences in the customs, beliefs, and habits of Afghanis. In our current political situation, it's extremely important for students to humanize the people of Afghanistan, and see that people are all people; we all make mistakes, and we are not so different after all.
  • Literature from the Modern Middle East: Making a Living Connection
    While our country is deeply involved in the Middle East, most Americans, including our students, lack knowledge about the region. Yet from Afghanistan to Palestine, from Morocco to Iraq, there is a vibrant and exciting literature by living authors that can bring the diverse experiences and perspectives of this vital part of the world to our classes.
  • Teach Middle Eastern Literature
    Information, resources and suggestions for teaching literature and film from and about the modern Middle East in middle school, high school, and college. Supporting the 2009 NCTE presentation: "Who is a Terrorist? Teaching Contemporary Literature from the Middle East"
  • Khaled Hosseini Interview -- Academy of Achievement
    Khaled Hosseini Interview Afghanistan's Tumultuous History July 3, 2008 Khaled Hosseini Interview
  • explore - cultural and educational films and photos
    explore is a multimedia organization that documents leaders around the world who have devoted their lives to extraordinary causes. Both educational and inspirational, explore creates a portal into the soul of humanity by championing the selfless acts of others. explore's growing library consists of more than 250 original films and 30,000 photographs from around the world. We showcase our work at film festivals, on over 100 public broadcast and cable channels, and on numerous online destinations including, Snag Films, Hulu and TakePart.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Plagiarism Detection Links

  • | Free Online Plagiarism Detection System, Plagiarism checker
    100% plagiarism detection in any written content using novelty multi-layered technology. Convenient and fast search, which will save you a lot of time, instead of Googling every sentence. User-friendly plagiarism checker interface, for you to experience 100% productivity. Detailed plagiarism results display, which points out the most problematic fragments of your text. 100% guarantee of total confidentiality and safety. Detection without saving your text to any databases, to avoid any problems with further plagiarism check.
  • plagium (beta)::: plagiarism tracker & checker ::: home
  • DOC Cop = Accurate + Fast + Free + Simple + Plagiarism Detection
    What is DOC Cop? DOC Cop is a plagiarism, cryptomnesia and collusion detection tool that creates reports displaying the correlation and matches between documents or a document and the web. DOC Cop does not take copyright or ownership of your material. It does not retain your material beyond the time it takes to generate your report. DOC Cop gathers the evidence, and provides the information required for you to judge whether plagiarism, cryptomnesia or collusion has occurred.
  • Turnitin: Home: Welcome to Turnitin
    Turnitin Originality Checking & Plagiarism Prevention is the #1 web-based solution that lets educators and their students check written work for improper citation or misappropriated content.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Having just returned from the Google Teacher Academy in Washington, D.C., I have so much to write about! But before I get to all that I learned with my stellar cohort of 52 amazing educators, I thought I would pass along a wonderful resource:

The Edublog Awards

If you are looking to build your professional network, scroll down and check out the linked nominees for best teacher blogs. And, if you are interested in using blogs with students, these examples cannot be missed. And perhaps the most helpful to your professional and personal development - the list of gurus.

And while you are there, don't forget to vote!

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