Web Research Skills & Understanding

Web Research Skills & Understanding

How to use this guide

Generally skills get more complex as you move to the bottom of the document although the order I have used is subjective.
Choose a topic to research that relates to your current curriculum. Using these skills in a real context creates a much more interesting richer experience.

I would expect Year 3 to go as far as using the synonym search. I would expect Year 6 children to have covered everything by the time they leave the school.
Some skills and Understanding are good to combine in a lesson. For example I might combine bookmarking, multiple word searches and understanding the order of the results in Year 3.

If you are teaching this in Year 4, 5 & 6 at Abbotswood there is a Google Survey in templates that you can use as a pre-test to help you target gaps in pupils’ knowledge.

Skill or Understanding

Skill or Understanding Expanded

Examples & Resource Links

Possible Activities

One word searches on a child friendly search engine

Introducing child friendly search engines

Yahoo for Kids Kids Click Ask Kids These are all linked to on the web links page at Abbotswood

Comparing the same search on all three search engines. Which one produces the best links?

Bookmarking a web page by creating a favourite

Bookmarking a web page so it can be easily viewed at a later date

In Internet Explorer 8 Left click favourites, Add to favourites, Rename the favourite and click add.

Can your pupils’ search and bookmark useful pages for your topic?

Can they create their own folders in favourites and add the bookmarks into this folder?

Using the word kids in a search

Using the words kids in a web search to return more child friendly results

Roman Baths for kids will yield a much more useful set of websites for KS2 pupils

Understanding the order of results returned

Top results on a Google search are web pages that have been linked to by other web pages the most. (slightly simplistic explanation)

It’s informative to ask pupils what they think the top results are before telling them.

Multiple word searches on a standard search engine

First word is treated as more important, then the second, then the third etc.

Google Bing For example India, village life and children in a different order will yield very different results. If the words are closely related to each other such as Roman Baths the order will make less difference.

Choose just one search engine. Google is the biggest. Pre-test some word strings from your topic. Try them in different orders. Can the class test different strings of words. Do your results change?

Opening multiple web pages without leaving the search

Right click on a result link and left click on open in a new tab in the menu that opens

Copying text from an internet page to an office document

Highlighting text on a web page, right click and copy it and then paste it into Word, Publisher or Powerpoint. It is fine to do this for personal use but re publishing text without permission is not acceptable.

Some browsers won’t allow you to do this so you have to highlight text and then hold Ctrl on the keyboard whilst pressing C. You can paste by clicking on your document then holding Ctrl and pressing x on your keyboard.

Please note children will often copy text that they don’t understand. Can they explain it in their own words?

Good to combine this with naming your sources so pupils get used to recording where they get things from.

Getting typed text read to you

Some passages of text are too hard for children to read but they might be understood if they were read out loud.

On a computer navigate to IM Translator text to speech service. If using an IPod use Speak It. The IM Translator link may be found on the Abbotswood School web links page.

Have some prepared links that you know contain good information. Show your less confident readers how to use the text to speech reader and pause it. They could make notes on the passage.

Copying images from an internet page

Right clicking on the image and selecting save image as. It is fine to do this for personal use but re publishing an image without permission is not acceptable

Google synonym search

Using a tilde (~) before a search to return synonym results

~large lakes will find results for great lakes as well

You could use this as a way of reinforcing or teaching about synonyms

Google dictionary definition

Dictionary definitions (Define) before the word

The basic Google definition will point to other online dictionaries under the definition

Google fill in the blanks

Using an (*) to get Google to fill in the blank

* city in the world returns the largest, hottest, most expensive etc. Can be used before, after or in the middle of a phrase

Great for researching around a topic combined with – (minus) can be a very useful refinement

Google using a – (minus) to exclude words

Including and excluding search words

Southampton –football would remove all references to Southampton Football club

Worth combining with * (wildcard) for refining searches

Google search words of equal value using OR

Using OR between words to give each word equal value

You can do this using Google advanced search.

Left click on the options gear wheel in the top right hand corner of the Google search page.

Try comparing word strings with word strings with OR between them. Can older children work out what is happening when you add OR?

Using a subject directory search

Subject directories allow you to drill down and narrow your search stage by stage. Good for when you are not sure what you are looking for. Web searches were all directories once.

Yahoo Directory is the best large scale directory to use. Note that you can change the popularity order to alphabetical order. Kids Click is a more limited version of this.

In a directory there are always branches that would take you into sexuality. I think it is worth drawing attention to this and discussing it before using the directory.

Use Yahoo Directory to drill through and find sites relevant to your topic. Can your pupils do the same? What advantages are there in using this method of searching? You could directly compare this method with word searches side by side. Who can retrieve information first? Are there any advantages to using a directory? (lots of word options you may not have considered)

Knowing that some results are sponsored

Understanding that sponsored results are paid for and not necessarily the most linked to or useful

Try searching for simple things. Look at the sponsored results. Do they match your search? Can you write a search where the results have no sponsored links?

Using the advanced search options in Google

Searching in UK only

How old the page is

Other advanced search features Google Advanced Search

Naming your sources

Avoiding quoting things without saying where it came from including the web address reference

Left click once anywhere in the address bar. Right click and copy. Paste into your own work either within the work or as a numbered footnote. Some browsers won’t allow you to do this so you have to highlight text and then hold Ctrl on the keyboard whilst pressing C. You can paste by clicking on your document then holding Ctrl and pressing x on your keyboard.

If web research is part of a bigger project or outcome then naming sources is important. Worth linking this with Bias and Authority issues.

Finding physical places with Google Maps and Google Streetview

Postcodes, Navigation, Different views map or satellite

Google Maps

Google Maps Video Help Files

Google maps could have its own dedicated module

Collecting joint research in Google docs or spreadsheet

Create a Google spread sheet or Google Doc and share it with your class so that research can be collated in one place.

Best to create 3 or 4 Google Docs and share children between them or create one spread sheet. Use tables to create areas for the children to insert work in the Docs or give each child a row in the spreadsheet.

Examples of this in a blog post

This really suits subjects that could have a very varied wide outcome such as what forms of pollution are there or Roman Britain.


Bias. Why was the site created? Who created it? Was it someone neutral, or was it someone who wanted to send a specific message?

Looking for Terms and Conditions and about the author information often found at the bottom of the home page in small type


Is the writer truly an expert on the subject? Trustworthy sources are: museums, national libraries, and archives sites, UK National television news such as the BBC and major, well-known information sources like Britannica.com, Encarta.com, and Merriam-Webster Online.

You could look at this through a fact and opinion framework. This site looks at an article about fact and opinion. This method could be adapted for lot of websites about famous historical characters.

If you want to check a basic fact you can copy it and and paste it a new search. Do other website agree with these fact? If they do it’s more likely to be true.

Terms & conditions of web 2.0 resources

Age limits

Who owns the data

Will your email address be passed on?

If you were going to sign up for Prezi how would you find this information out? Where would you look?