Fast paced and frustrating.
A Google a Day challenge is a class favourite. I’ve conducted the challenges with big Year 7/8 kids down to Year 4.
Google has a large selection of challenges available for teachers to use. The challenges include a few sentences that have some clues that the kids can use to search to help find the answer. They then email in the answers into the teacher. To the untrained eye it probably looks like the kids and I are fluffing around on a computer but the classroom is often a hive activity that comes from groups kids trying to nut out the answer.
To be successful the children need to be able to break questions down, find out the meanings of unknown words and decide what the question is really asking through creating search strings. I’m sure a few will probably criticise me for teaching out of date search methods however I’ve found that the children are starting to make links from these challenges back to reading groups, skimming and scanning for information, using key words to help with comprehension, discussing purpose and intent that make these challenges worthwhile.
I’ve also been tweaking the format to suit my needs.
Many of the challenges on the google site now included hacks where people are answering the question directly online. While I love the idea of promoting greater information literacy in class, the challenges themselves often were random facts rather that were competed unrelated to the unit of inquiry or topic we were studying
So I started writing my own.
This is a challenge related to last years unit of inquiry into the rainforest.
The image provided a magical teachable moment. The kids recognised the bird as a toucan and started search for ‘proof’ that the toucan produced a weapon. They were outraged that the image had led away from the answer. However I was able to show that our world is full of images, some of them enhance the writer’s message others will distract and it’s up to us to decide about the purpose of the image.
Images can also be used as a way to find information.
In this case the children were able to use the picture of the girl in this google challenge to help them find the information they needed to identify Adora Svitak.
Sometimes I’ve used Google challenges as a way to spark kid’s curiosity.
The challenge on Ruby Bridges quickly had the kids curious about the era of segregation. The idea that people shouldn’t be able to mix based on the colour of their skin seemed alien in my international school classroom. They were also curious as to how art and music can bring about social change. The children quickly located the song and the Norman Rockwell painting provoked further interest in the intensity of the protests Ruby Bridges faced on her fist day of school.
We’ve yet to explore how video, newspapers and news can be used to help us and I’m sure as google’s tools become more sophisticated the potential for teaching information literacy actually becomes more important not less.