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If you're a teacher in a state that has already adopted the common core state standards, and if you're in the implementation phase, then you already know that there's an increased emphasis on using informational text and students using research in their writing. Google has a built-in feature called Google Scholar that will allow our students to become familiar with basic Boolean searches and to give them access to scholarly articles that they can use in their writing. To access Google Scholar, we're going to click on More from the drop-down menu. We're going to come to the very bottom of the list and click Even more. Here we have the total list of applications that are available to us as users of Google Apps for Education.
As we scroll down this page, we're eventually going to come to something called Specialized Search. These are different ways that you can search the Internet using predefined parameters and filters. Under Specialized Search, we're going to click on Scholar. So here we've officially accessed Google Scholar. What we're now able to do is to type in basic information to search for scholarly articles. These can be anything from journal articles, conference papers, and even newspaper articles that are relevant to the topics we're looking for. What we're not going to find is a bunch of videos and a bunch of websites that might not be appropriate to our particular search. The other thing Google Scholar offers us is that ability for students to exploratorically learn about Boolean searches.
So for example, if I'm a student, and I want to look for an article, I'm going to start by using the drop-down menu for an Advanced Scholarly Search. Here, I can go ahead and search for articles that contain either all of the words, or exact phrases, or at least one of the words, or that omits certain words. That way, I can narrow my search into exactly what I want. So, maybe I'd like to search for surgery articles but I don't want anything on heart surgery, so I can go ahead and search for the exact words of surgery. But I'm going to go ahead and omit the words heart. I can also select where those words occur at, whether they're anywhere in the article or only in the title.
I'm going to go ahead and leave it set to anywhere in the article, and I'm going to click Search. You'll notice at the top of the screen, I now have some basic Boolean search coming up. I can see the the word surgery's been searched for. I have a dash showing that I'm omitting the word heart. Directly below that, I also have a variety of articles. One thing that I really love to do as an assignment is have students go in and play around with the Boolean search features. They have to use the advanced menu to type in different types of phrases and searches, and then look at the notations that come out at the top of the screen, and try to use inductive reasoning to figure out exactly how a Boolean search works.
This is a great way to bring exploratory learning. Into the English classroom. So I highly recommend that you become familiar with how Google Scholar works, and take the time to train your students on it. This is going to allow our students to learn about Boolean searches, and even though Google Scholar is free, and it may not be the most extensive database out there, when our students get to higher education and they have access to these very expensive databases. They'll be a step ahead of the rest of the students, because they'll already know how to search and find articles in an efficient manner.
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