Saturday, December 25, 2010

Five golden rings--5 tips for teachers and librarians

In the spirit of the season I put together a list of 5 golden rings--5 great tips that everyone should know (but are especially useful for teachers and librarians to know about).  

1.  Google search cheat sheetthere are many Google cheat sheets out there, and this is mine.  This one has the benefit of actually being correct.  It's also available as a mousepad, if you'd like to have one of your own.  It shows about 20 of the top tricks and search operators that are most useful.  Print it out and distribute widely.  You have my permission. 

2.  Reading level searchIf you somehow missed the announcement, Google recently launched the ability to filter search results by reading level.  

3.  Creative Commons license searchGoogle also recently launched another advanced feature in Image search.  When searching for images, you can also go into the Advanced Search mode and filter by CC license level. 

4.  Custom Search EnginesA CSE lets you create your own "mini-Google" that searches just over the sites you like.  That means it's really easy to create a special-purpose search-engine for just the needs of your class... or even a specific lesson.  I'll do a posting about this in the future, but if you want to get started exploring, click on the link above.  It's actually very easy to do and solves all kinds of problem when letting younger searchers look for specific topics on the web.  

5.  AlertsA Google Alert is a standing query that's automatically run for you on a daily or weekly basis.  Any changes in the web search results (or News) are automatically sent to you as an email.  Think of the Alerts tool as your personal assistant who is always scanning the net for you.  (I'll also write a longer post about this as well.)  I have Alerts set up for my name (so I can see who's talking about me!) and for four different topics I'm interested in.  Naturally, one of those topics  is "how to teach search skills," which I have set up to send me weekly updates.  It's a very handy way to track the latest in your special topic of interest.      

Hope you like these.  More to come in the days ahead.  

Have a wonderful holiday! 

Searching on into 2011... 



  1. Thanks I did not know some of these options!

    PS. is the link for CSE (tip 4) not

    At the moment it takes me to blogger.

    Anyway, reminds me to keep checking over the options in advanced search.

    In fact I would like google to have an option to email me when they add something new to advanced search. You could put such an option in the advanced search itself!

  2. Hey there Dan - as awesome as your search cheat sheets are - btw love them- I am having difficulty accessing them- is there a reason?

    1. Good catch. I moved the underlying file and forgot that there was a dependency there. I've fixed it up for you (and everyone)!

  3. I know that Google Images now lets users filter results so that they only get results that are copyright-free, in the public domain, or have a Creative Commons license. That said, I was disappointed that the feature on reading level appears to have been removed.

    The Master's degree that I'm working on is in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), and it seems like having something like that (to enable users to pick the reading level for their desired results) would be really useful for English language learners. So, do you know if Google is planning on reinstating this feature?

    1. It was pretty good, but it was removed many years ago. Sorry about that. Don't think it's coming back soon.

    2. Alas! That said, after you made that comment, I played around with Google some, and found that the context terms "simple English," "esl," and "ell" all did a pretty good job of giving results in simple or basic English. However, "efl" did not.

      I also found that "for kids" and "for children" also seemed to do a decent job of returning results that were at a more basic reading level -- though I'd be a bit worried about how adult English language learners would respond to reading something aimed at children.

      Thanks again for your explanation about context terms (see: