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Thing 9 - Custom Google Search

There are several practical uses for creating a Google custom search.

1. As a teacher (pedagogically), you have control over which websites students may access when researching online. This protects the students from inappropriate websites. It also provides students with opportunities for quality research- they are spending less time deciding which sites are relevant, and more time researching their topic. (That is not to say that students shouldn't learn how to differentiate between quality and non-quality websites. Hopefully they are learning these skills along the way, too).

A. Specific example 1: I have my 9th grade English students research artists in the novel, Speak. By creating a custom search engine, I can give my students one place to begin their research. The library at our school has online databases to scholarly journals and writings, and while this is beneficial for the students to learn how to navigate, for a freshman English class, using a custom search engine would be more practical.

B. Specific example 2: I have my Spanish 1 students create a travel project to a Spanish-speaking country of their choice. I usually give them a handout of helpful websites to get them started. They are to find actual flights, hotels, excursions, restaurants, historical places, and currency-exchange rates to/for their country. I could create a custom search engine with several sites related to this information. Students wouldn't necessarily choose the same websites, and so their projects could still be unique to them.

C. Specific example 3: Relating to the first two examples and student research, another thought would be to include MLA citation sites in your custom search so that students don't have to type in a new url every time they look up how to do a correct citation.

2. As a professional, you are able to create a search engine that caters to exactly the information you are hoping to find. The custom search engine I created is designed to find information about how teachers can use Web 2.0, and any current discussion related to Web 2.0 in the classroom. I am hoping to invite others to include relevant urls in my search engine with some of their favorite Web 2.0 websites.

3. Personally, although I myself am not a parent, I could see using a custom search engine with your kids at home. For example, say you have a 7-8 yr old son/daughter who loves art and who loves using art websites online. They could easily become lost trying a search engine on their own. If you create a custom search engine that lists websites your child enjoys, it could save you both time. As a parent you wouldn't have to remember all of the various websites, you could just use your search engine, and retrieve a list right away. Your child could have a variety of sites to choose from and would not get bored using the same site all the time (although I could imagine that once your child finds a website he/she likes, that's the only one he/she will want to use!). (For inquiring minds, I have an 8 year-old sister who enjoys art websites. The problem is that she'll use specific sites at school and then can't remember the name of them. A good idea would be to ask her teachers and then set up the sites at home in a custom search).