Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Teaching Internet Search Skills--Boolean Operators



The following charts hang in my classroom to help students with searching online. I find 5th graders to be very receptive and an ideal age to introduce such skills.


In this post, I am going to write about the Boolean Operators demonstrated on the left. These examples show what happens if you were searching online for info about Ants and/or Bees. 

Adding the words AND, OR or NOT to your search will produce different search results. The green shaded parts display the amount of page hits (often too much or too little) that might be produced by using NOT, AND or OR.

An actual example from one of my classes was a 5th grader searching for sea life. Each child has an assigned animal, and this particular student had trouble finding swordfish info after just typing swordfish in the Google search box. She kept getting many pages with swordfish food entrees instead of animal facts. I suggested she try some of the Boolean tips we learned. So, she tried:


  • "swordfish NOT food" (the idea was to bring up sites that had swordfish but not food). It lessened the amount of food results , but still not enough animal facts.

  • then, we tried "swordfish AND animal" as well as "swordfish AND facts for kids" which brought up sites that displayed results that contained both sets of words. It had fewer, but more accurate, page results. She was able to get the most information using the AND.

  • if we had put "swordfish OR sea life" it would have brought up way too much information about sea life that did not even address swordfish.