Monday, February 28, 2011

Super Searches

Have you ever wanted your students to use something other than Google or Wikipedia for research (assuming they have already consulted our library databases)? Here are a few clever and fun specialty search engines to check out. As with all recommended resources, please look at these sites first to determine their appropriateness for your students.
QuinturaKids is a fun, visual, and intuitive search engine that allows kids to refine their search by clicking on words in a tag cloud. As a bonus, Quintura also has an iPad and iPhone app available.
Yippy is a simple search engine that categorizes the search results on the left of the search result window. The search can then be narrowed by clicking on any one of the topics.
Twurdy provides a readability rating for each of the web site results it returns for any search. This is especially helpful for students who often find themselves accessing information on web sites that is much too difficult for their age and/or reading ability.
Sort-Fix is a search engine that narrows the millions of results that might otherwise be returned. Students can drag and drop power words they want to add to or exclude from their search.

Tip of the Week
Get more from Google by taking advantage of its advanced search feature.  Do you want only sites with easy readability or only sites that contain images? You can even see your results categorized in a concept map. Click on Advanced Search at the end of the search field.  Enter the topic you are searching for. Next to "Reading Level", choose basic (easy), intermediate (a bit harder), or advanced (the most difficult). Now, click the Advanced Search button in the lower right hand corner.  You can easily modify the reading level on the search results page. The Wonder Wheel (concept map), Timeline, and more can be found under "All Results" on the left.

Web Resource - Picnik
Picnik is a great photo editing site.  It has many of the photo fixing tools that you might need - crop, rotate, resize, sharpen, exposure, red-eye fix, and more. PLUS, there are loads of text options, effects, and stickers to add to your pictures. 

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