I thought the same until I noticed his attitude change from positive (well as positive as an attitude about homework can be) to confused to frustrated. I went over to investigate what the problem was and to see if I could help. What I found was a printed worksheet that asked him to visit the following five sites:
This was a paper worksheet with printed web addresses. Not a Google document, or a blog post, or a Google Classroom announcement, or any sort of digital format with clickable links.
As a 6th grade boy with a short attention span and basic keyboarding skills, he was trying to type in these URL’s … and failing miserably. Between the five sites that’s 353 characters to type in, without messing up any of the slashes and dashes.
Thankfully this was a great chance to turn a challenge into a learning opportunity. See below for two simple searching tricks I showed him that made the assignment a snap, and may help you and your students as well.
Tip #1 - Searching for URL’s
Chances are though, you do not need to type in the full web address to be able to go to the website. Instead you can search for the URL.
The key is to pick a few unique words from within the web address, enter those words in a normal Google search, and most likely one of the top results (if not the very top) will be the website you are trying to get to.
For example, instead of having my son type in the full web address for:
I had him type in a search for:
The very first search result was exactly the webpage we were looking for. With a simple click on the result, he was at the site without having to type in an 87-character long address.
For the next website at:
He chose to run a search for just:
mayoclinic valley fever
Once again, the top result was the site he needed (with it’s 89-character long address). So in short, instead of just searching to find general information, you can also search to find specific URL’s.
Tip #2 - Searching within a webpage
Now that my son had made it to the websites he needed, the first half of the process was complete. How he had to answer several questions about the content on each of the sites. Again, not a difficult task in theory, but this can be more challenging when the webpage is long with a large amount of text.
- When you are on the webpage you want to search within, press the following keys:
- Ctrl and F (on a PC or Chromebook)
- Command and F (on a Mac)
- This will open a search box in the top right corner of your web browser.
- Type in a word you want to find on the page.
- The word will now be highlighted on the page anywhere it shows up.
- You can click the up and down arrows in the search box to jump to each location in the page where the word can be found.
Again the key is to pick an appropriate word to help locate relevant parts of a webpage. For example, to answer the question “Describe what happened in October of 1933 in California’s San Joaquin Valley” my son did a search for “Joaquin” to jump to the section of the page that dealt with that content.
So when you or your students are looking for information online, don’t forget the “second search”. Search once to find the website you need, but then search a second time within the page to find the specific content on the page.
Learning some searching tips can help save time, reduce frustration, and allow students to focus in on the content they are learning. These two simple search tricks helped my son complete his homework in a flash, so we still had time together as a family to watch “The Flash”. That’s a lifesaver in my book!
Post by Eric Curts. Connect with Eric on Twitter at twitter.com/ericcurts and on Google+ at plus.google.com/+EricCurts1