Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Get Rid of One-Size-Fits-All Approaches to Research and Try SearchyPants



Let's face it, our students are the masters of finding and accessing inappropriate content - either purposefully or accidentally. As educators, we have the professional responsibility to protect our students from accessing inappropriate content, while providing them with valuable tools to find the information they need. Even with the most advanced filtering systems, slips do happen.

Perhaps you take a one-size-fits-all approach to research. How does this help all of your learners in your classroom? Google and Yahoo are great search engines, but there are a variety of safe search engines available for educators to use to help provide scaffolding for basic or struggling learners.

SearchyPants is a tool that educators can use to create their own customized search engine to meet the needs of their students without eliminating the functionality of a search engine. For example, let's say that you plan to have your students use SearchyPants to do a search; however, you want to restrict their access to certain terms, games, pictures, and videos. With the click of a button, you can eliminate distractions and provide students with valuable tools.

Using SearchyPants in the UDL Classroom

Finding the most appropriate information and managing resources is an executive function that many of our students struggle with. To help our students develop this valuable skill, we cannot design one-size-fits-all approaches to research. We need to provide students with multiple ways of finding the most appropriate resources. Our high functioning and highly skilled students may be fine to use EBSCO and Google Searches, while our struggling students may need to use SearchyPants as a scaffold to aid in the process.

What Scaffolds Can You Provide?

I like the fact that SearchyPants limits unnecessary distractions like certain key terms, video clips, images and games; however, the search engine does provide other very useful tools to help support students.

  • You can provide students with useful or commonly used links called Pants Links on the actual search page. This would be helpful for students who need to access your class website, formatting resources, etc.
  • Students can see trending searches from other users. This can be extremely helpful if students are trying to find certain pieces of information.
  • As a teacher, you can see all of the searches that are being performed on your customized SearchyPants search engine. This can be helpful to see what students are grasping and what they are having difficulty with.
Want an example? Check out my customized search engine and give it a try! Try SearchyPants in your classroom and let me know what you think!

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