I was reading a blog post about Wonder Wheel this morning (really it was about the power of Twitter-see below.) (Snow day 2, Cable is out) Wonder Wheel is a search option on Google which essentially creates a web for the search term that you enter. For example I typed in Boston Massacre and this was the result.
As you can see. The web then offers a variety of suggestions for narrowing the search or a search terms that are related. The results appear on the right hand side. If you click on one of the search terms another web appears and the search results on the right change to reflect this new search term.
Other than being “neat” I think this has some real potential to help students. My fifth graders don’t often know what they are looking for at the start of a unit. Although I usually try to have them build some background knowledge using books before we get to the internet searching, it doesn’t always work as planned. Teaching students how to conduct keyword searches is important but challenging if they don’t know what keywords to enter. Sometimes even I have to try a variety of combinations for a student before I can find a source that works for them.
I think this would work well for a group lesson too. If you project your search results for the whole class to see it could spark discussion about the people, places, and events listed. Students could form small inquiry groups to get more information on each topic and then report out to the class. This would be a great way to help build background knowledge and assist students in generating questions for deeper study.
To access Wonder Wheel, there is a link on the left side of the Google search page under “More Search Tools.” Another little tip is that I often add the word “kids” to my search to bring up kid friendly sites.
How are you helping students navigate the overabundance of information on the internet?