The Art and Science of Searching for Information on the Internet
Derry Area Township School District Workshop

Friday, March 3   1:30 PM - 3:30 PM



1:30 - 1:45 Overview, Introductions and KWL


1:45 - 3:00 Review of Information on Web Site


3:00 - 3:15  All about Google


3:15 - 3:30 KWL searches from over 3 billion documents on the Internet.  Obviously, the use of search engines has replaced many of the traditional ways we seek information.  The purpose of this workshop is to examine the various characteristics and types of Internet search tools, explore various ways to increase search productivity, address the issues associated with Internet searching, and construct a list of Internet searching tips and guidelines for students. 



Read these articles:

How Search Engines work


How to Pick a Search Engine


Search Engine Ratings



What is a search engine?

How do search engines work?
What are the parts of a crawler-based search engine?

What is a directory?

What is a metacrawler?

What is an all-in-one search engine?
What are the major search engines and directories
How can search engines be safely used with children?

What are kid's search engines?

What are search engine issues?

When should search engines be used?
What are effective search techniques?
What are search guidelines for teachers?


All About Google

Some Interesting Search Engines






What is a search engine?

The term "search engine" is used to describe web sites that search for information.


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How do search engines work?

Search engines work in several ways.  Many search engines use a software program to search for relevant information related to key terms.   These programs are sometimes referred to as "spiders" or "crawlers" to describe their searching movements as they visit a web page and follow the links to other pages.  An example is Google where users type in key search terms or a phrase and the program "crawls" throughout the web searching for matching criteria. Other search engines use humans to search and classify web information that may be recorded into a "directory," a place where human editors organize web sites into categories.  Users make decisions by navigating through the various links and levels of directories to find the desired information.  In recent years, most search engines have become "hybrid" search engines that use both of these techniques.  For example, Google and Yahoo provide users with the option of performing a "directory" search.


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What are the parts of a crawler-based search engine?
Crawler-based search engines can be divided into three parts: 1) Spider - visits the web site and "crawls" through the various pages looking for key terms. 2) Index - The information is stored and available for searches. 3) Search Engine Software - Sorts through millions of web pages to match a search term or phrase.



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What is a directory?

A directory is a list of topics that are organized by subject matter.  The user navigates through the directory by choosing links and sub-links.  One of the most popular directories has been Yahoo, however many web sites such as Yahoo and Google offer directories in addition to a crawler-based search engine.


Visit each directory:




Click on "more" and then click on "directory"



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What is a metacrawler?

Metacrawlers do not crawl the web like search engines to build listings.  Rather, they search using a multiple number of search engines and list the results blended together on one page.


Visit and do a search:




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What is an all-in-one search engine?

An all-in-one search engine list a variety of search engines on one page and allows the user to choose one for a search.


Visit and do a search:




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What are the major search engines and directories?


Read this article:

Major Search Engines and Directories


Top Choices



Ask Jeeves


Strongly Consider

AOL Search (internal)




Other Choices





MSN Search

Netscape Search

Open Directory


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How can search engines be safely used with children?

Internet filters used by schools that are designed to filter out inappropriate content for students are not 100% fail-safe and my allow sites that advocate explicit sexual matters, pornography, violence, hate speech, gambling, and drug use.  Teachers must take additional precautions such as monitoring student work and providing "safe sites."  Although some search engines such as AltaVista provide an optional filter, other search engines such as AskJeeves are specifically designated as "kid's search engines" and do no list sites that are inappropriate or unsafe for children.


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What are kid's search engines?

Kid's search engines do no list sites that are inappropriate or unsafe for children. 



Read this article:

Kid's Search Engines (from


Some sites have filtering options such as AltaVista that has a family filter.

Following are "kid-safe" directories that use humans to filter out inappropriate sites:

Ask Jeeves For Kids




Others… from article


Ithaki for Kids


Fact Monster


Ivy's Search Engine Resources for Kids


Research Tools


Microsoft Encarta



Kid's Domain

In 2002, Congress passed the "Dot Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act" to establish basic parameters for Internet content geared toward children under 13.  As a result, a new domain was made available to provide a "youth-friendly" and content restricted web space for children 13 and under. The US Department of Commerce chose Nuestar, Inc. to manage the new domain.   Individuals or organizations who purchase a domains are required to have content approved through Nuestar, Inc before posting on the web.  In addition, a Nuestar, Inc will monitor all content on an ongoing basis.  Web sites using will be considered "third level" domain names.  For example, .us is a top-level domain, is a second-level domain, and is a third-level domain name.


Visit this site:


Other Children's Search Engines

Awesome Library
Over 14,000 sites have been classified into a directory, specifically organized for teachers, students and parents. Information can be found by browsing or searching.

Billed as an ad free, non-commercial directory of web sites designed for child-safe searching.

Education World
Over 500,000 sites of interest to educators. Browsable or searchable, with the ability to narrow in by appropriate grade level. Launched in spring 1996.

Fact Monster
Reference provider Information Please produces this site which provides facts and information oriented around the needs of children.

Family Source
Crawler-based service described more in this review from from October 2003: New Family Friendly Search Engine.

Kids Search Tools
Search a variety of kid-safe search engines from a single page.
Index of pages built by crawling education web sites.
Directory of web sites for teachers and educators.

TekMom's Search Tools for Students
All-in-one search page for kid search sites and research resources.

Boolean Searching on the Internet

Searching With Savvy: The Best Search Engines for Teachers and Students

Web Search Strategies

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What are search engine issues?




Credibility of Resources



For Discussion:
Ms. Newcomb gave her 9th graders a homework assignment to look up the most recent earthquake activity using the Internet.  She provided the links to help students find the information.  The next morning, Andre's parents were in the Principal's office because they found pornographic pictures in his room that were printed from the Internet.  Andre's parents did not have a computer in their home and learned that the pictures were discovered while he was doing a "required" Internet assignment at a friend's house.  The parents were upset with Ms. Newcomb's assignment.  What steps could have been taken, if any, to prevent this problem?



Requiring your students to research Internet information outside of school may be appropriate for older students but be aware that several problems could occur.  First, some students may not have access to the Internet for various reasons.  You should especially be aware of situations where students cannot access the Internet due to socioeconomic or religious restrictions.  Next, students may get into inappropriate sites while conducting research for your assignments and some families may be upset with the experience. In any case, you should always be familiar with your school district's Acceptable Use Policies and should consider notifying parents of how the Internet is used in your assignments.


Get Your PBS Web License


Consider a rubric for evaluating search engines.





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When should Search engines be used?

The obvious advantage of search engines is that they help students develop decision-making and problem-solving skills while allowing open-ended research.   The disadvantage is that Internet searching may require a lot of time and may not end in productive results. The teacher must decide whether best practices dictate that students search for information using a search engine or are given a list of web sites previously screened by the teacher.


On consideration for teachers who have their students use search engines is to teach students Internet searching skills.


Specialty Web Sites

Some search engines are specialty search engines and restrict their search to a specific content such as news and medical or legal information.




Web and Non-web Resources Compared

Newspapers and Magazines




Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

Field Trips

Video Clips



Virtual Reality


Research Process for Students

Ask Questions

Gather Information from Resources

Analysis Information

Arrive at a Conclusion


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What are effective search techniques? 


Read this article:
Web Searching Tips


1.  Become familiar with the search engine.  Read the links with the search engine's help, searching tips, and features.

2.  Try another search engine if you don’t find your information.

3.  Read the search results for each link.  You may recognize a text description or web site link that will help you decide to visit that site.

4.  Try variations of your words and phrases if your search doesn't work.

5.  If your search produces too many results, try to be more specific and think of key words and phrases that will narrow your search.

6.  Once you get to a site, you may find a search engine that searches the entire site.  Also consider using EDIT/FIND from your browser menu to find specific words and phrases on a web page.



Refining your search

Following are some ways to narrow a search.  See the chart below for an explanation of operators and symbols.


1. Boolean Operators

Boolean operators represent a logic system that may help narrow a search.  Boolean operators may be expressed in the following capitalized words: 





Since boolean operators are not supported by all search engines and users should check each search engine's features.


2. Symbols

Following are some of the more common symbols that may be used to help refine the search:






As with Boolean operators, symbols are not supported by all search engines and users should check each search engine's features.



3.  Filters
The advanced features of many search engines provide a pull-down menu to narrow the search.



Following are Boolean Operators



Search Engine Features as


+ (AND)

Searches for all terms connected by +   Can also type AND in place of +

Not required in some search engines such as Google since by default Google searches for all terms.  The order in which the terms are typed may affect the search results.



Excludes terms from search.


" "

Searches for phrases by enclosing them in quotation marks.



Searches for pages that include either word A or word B.  May have to use an uppercase OR in between terms.


Search Tip Links


Web Search Tutorial - 13 Advanced Searching Tips



Search Engine Watch Tips


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What are search guidelines for teachers?


1.  Be familiar with the search engine and recommend or require students to use specific search engine sites.

2.  Be familiar with the school district's Internet policies.  Parents should be informed of precautions taken to insure their child's safety while searching on the Internet.

3.  Monitor students as they are using search engines.  If possible, arrange the layout of the computers for easy monitoring by the teacher.

4.  Establish rules for searching.  What actions will be taken if students find or attempt to find inappropriate content?

5.  Be familiar with the limitations of the school's filtering software.  If possible, talk with the technology coordinator or person who has knowledge of the filtering software's characteristics.

6.  Positive communication and trust with students is important.  Students must feel comfortable with the teacher and realize that they will not get into trouble for accidentally finding inappropriate materials.

7.  Plan for assignments outside of school in which the Internet is not required or situations where students will not be penalized if they do use the Internet.  (see below).


Boolean Searching on the Internet








Credibility of Resources



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All about Google

Google Advice for Basic Searching
Summarized from

Advanced Search Tips from Google

Google's Web Search Features

Google Services and Google Tools


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Some Interesting Search Engines

1. Ever wonder what people are searching for? Go to:
Dogpile SearchSpy


2. Want to compare listings search engines give you for the same search term?  Go to:

Google VS Yahoo Tool




3.  Want to see if your search term is on the web by different categories (try your name)?  Go to:



4.  Want to easily try multiple search engines? Go to:



Other Specialty Search Engines

Free Books Online
Online Books Page

Free Encylopedia Online


For a complete listing of specialty search engines go to:

SearchEngineWatch Specialty Search Engines


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©Raymond S. Pastore, Ph.D.
Professor of Education
1148 McCormick Center
Bloomsburg University
Bloomsburg, PA 17815-1301