Students will be able to:
- Evaluate search algorithms
- Intentionally access high-quality information
- Why is it important to know how search engines work?
- How do search engines affect the way I find information?
- Not All Search Engines Are Alike handout
- Search engine results packets
- Search Google, Bing and Yahoo! for five terms or phrases from a current topic in your class—the more specific the terms, the better. Print off the first two pages of each search engine’s results for each term to make 15 packets.
search engine [surch en-juh-n] (noun) A computer program that searches documents, especially on the World Wide Web, for a specified word or words and provides a list of documents in which they are found
algorithm [al-guh-rith-uh m] (noun) A complex mathematical equation used by search engines to find data
directory [dih-rek-tuh-ree] (noun) An organizing unit in a computer's file system for storing and locating files
index [in-deks] (noun) A method of sorting data by creating keywords or a listing of the data
In this lesson, students will learn how different search engines work. They will analyze results provided by three of the more popular search engines and evaluate their effectiveness in an advertisement for the search engine.
1. Start by asking students how often they use search engines. Which ones do they use most? What are some of the most common problems they experience with search engines? How have they solved some of these problems?
2. Distribute the Not All Search Engines Are Built Alike handout. Read the handout as a class. (Note: If you don’t have time, you could assign the handout reading as homework the night before.) After students have read the article, divide the class into small groups and have them discuss the questions on the handout. Then ask a spokesperson from each group to summarize their discussions to the class.
3. Next, list the five terms you used to create your search engine results packets on the board. Keep students in their groups, and distribute one search engine results packet to each group. Provide time for the groups to review the search results. Then facilitate a discussion using the following questions:
- Did the three search engines provide results in the same order? If not, how did the orders differ?
- Which search engine provided the most understandable page titles?
- Did any of the search engines provide information without the user having to click on a link? Which one(s)?
- Did all the search engines provide descriptive information about the page titles? Did this information help you decide if the webpage was a source you were looking for?
- Did all the search engines provide images of the term or phrase? If not, which one(s) didn’t? Were the images useful?
- Did any of the search engines also include ads? Which ones? Were the ads distracting?
- Were all the headings on each search engine’s first page of results relevant to the topic? How about the second page? Where in the list did the results seem to go off topic from the searched term or phrase?
- Of the three search engines tested, which one do you think provided the best search results and why?
4. Finally, have students use their answers to the above questions to create an advertisement explaining why their favorite search engine is better than others.
Alignment to Common Core State Standards
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.