Search Education

Lesson Overview

To help students complete research projects related to school, extra-curricular, work, and personal tasks, we have developed these series of lessons to assist you in teaching skills related to the Google search engine. These lessons are intended for students at a range of grade levels and technological expertise. Since we realize that educators teaching these lessons are varied, we have taken a broad range of factors into consideration. Therefore, we realize some are not adept at accessing the web, might feel uncomfortable teaching the ins and outs of search, or have limited computer or Internet access. To this end, we have written detailed step-by-step lessons, provided Internet links for those with live access or screen shots to print out for those who have limited computers, and include levels of lessons for the various student populations you serve.

Standards-Based Lessons

These series of lessons reside within a larger comprehensive unit that you conduct around various Common Core or other state standards involving research, such as those that include reading informational text, conducting research, utilizing technology, and writing informational/explanatory works or opinions/arguments. Even if your state has not adopted the Common Core Standards, students will undoubtedly conduct research for specific assignments that are most likely aligned to the following K-12 College and Career Readiness (CCR) Anchor Standards. Specific grade level content standards reside within these anchor standards, so refer to specific grades to access pertinent standards. In addition, standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects, Grades 6-12, align with these CCR Standards. Therefore, teachers in any of these subject areas will likely find these lessons helpful if they assign research tasks. These lessons align with the following standards:




To address the information/explanatory or opinion/argument writing standards fully, we assume teachers will conduct a comprehensive unit of instruction as students work towards answering a question or addressing a topic. For example, students might address a research question like any of the following:

Each major research question is composed of several facets that students need to break down and research to fully address the overarching task. These series of search lessons do not provide a comprehensive treatment of a writing unit, but rather works in concert with such a unit to address any lessons pertaining to search in particular. In short, these research and technology lessons can be embedded within your larger unit. However, some educators might choose to use selected lessons in isolation to address smaller assignments.

Levels of Lessons

These lessons are divided into three different levels: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. There are four or five lessons within each level. Students of all ages will be at different entry levels in their expertise with regard to research and technology use, and specifically search.

The Beginner lessons are designed for students with no or limited knowledge of conducting a search, whereas the Advanced lessons are geared to more adept users. Although it may seem that Beginner lessons are meant for younger students, this is not always the case. There might be high school students who have not had the advantage of experimenting with a computer and accessing information on the web. If this is the case, educators who serve older students might begin with the Beginner lessons. By the same token, younger students might have the readiness level to begin at the Intermediate or Advanced levels.

Although lessons within each level are numbered sequentially (e.g., Beginner Lesson #1, #2, … #5), you might find that it is prudent to skip around and choose lessons. This might be the case for those with limited time to teach these skills and concepts or based on what your students need. We suggest you peruse all lessons and conduct those that best serve your student population.

Lesson Design

We have used the tenets of backward design to guide our writing of these lessons. Refer to the Lesson Plan Map to see the overarching components of sound unit design: essential understandings, guiding questions, knowledge, skills. Guiding questions serve to keep students (and educators) focused on the goals of a lesson. We suggest you post the unit guiding question prominently and refer to them throughout the series of lessons so students are keenly aware of their purpose for learning.


Some students will undoubtedly be more experienced with technology, search tools, and conducting searches than others. For this reason, we have differentiated within most of the lessons to some degree, but feel free to differentiate beyond what we recommend based on the needs of your students. If you have the advantage of utilizing other adults at your school site (e.g., librarians, technology personnel, parents etc.), you might conduct one lesson to some of your students and ask the other adult to lead another lesson to a group with different needs. Within some activities we include “Optional” and/or “Extension” activities in case you want to omit a part of the lesson or extend it for individuals or groups of students. Note, though, that many of these lessons are automatically differentiated based on the topic – whether it be by interest or readiness. As students apply the search strategies, they are differentiated in this way. For example, students with a more sophisticated topic will most likely find and access those sources that might be at a higher reading level.

Who Teaches These Lessons

Some schools have librarians or technology personnel who interface with students on a regular basis or who can work in conjunction with teachers to conduct lessons. Consider accessing these specialists to assist in teaching a unit that requires research. Together you can make a valuable team to deliver this information. Consider who teaches each lesson and in what order so you are choreographing your efforts to meet standards.

Internet Access

We know that not all classrooms will have Internet access while conducting these lessons. Therefore, in certain lessons where there is a link or an opportunity to perform something online, there will be a screen shot that you can print out prior to the lesson as an alternative. You can show this screen shot on the overhead, a document camera, or hard copy in lieu of conducting a live search. If you do have Internet capabilities, and want to use the provided examples, just click on the links within the document to access them.

You may want to teach students how to set their filters to "SafeSearch strict" before searching. Google's SafeSearch filters let you change your browser setting to prevent adult content from appearing in your search results. Google uses automated methods to identify objectionable content, and constantly works to improve those methods based on user feedback. For sexually explicit content, our filter mainly relies on algorithms that look at many factors, including keywords, links, and images. No filter is 100 percent accurate, but SafeSearch should help you avoid most of this type of material.

Learn more about SafeSearch here, and read the most up-to-date instructions for setting filters.

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