Introducing search engines to the students was pretty straightforward. I decided to introduce the concepts with the search engine Hotbot.
I'd printed out a copy of the screen image for Hotbot, and numbered the components (including the ads!)
All of the students accessed Hotbot at the same time. I first had them look at their neighbors' screens to notice that the banner ads were different.
Next, I asked them to check out the different components of a simple search. (Hotbot has options for:
Then, after hearing the basics, they were allowed to search
for whatever they wanted to, and I went around helping out whenever needed. Students
were interested in Brad Pitt, Bon Jovi, Puffy, Namie Amuro, and other famous people.
Noone was interested in searching for places or topics. Mainly, they were interested
in pictures of famous people, and in hearing songs by pop stars.
The next day (lessons 15 and 16), we expanded the Hotbot search with its further options of revising the search. I demonstrated by having half the students search for Robert Smith, the person, and the other half modifying that search so that it "must contain" the Cure. After the results came back, they compared their results with their neighbors' results. (This would have been more effective, I think, if a well-known sports figure with a rather common name was chosen instead - none of my students really knew who Robert Smith was.) The students were then simply allowed to search for things of personal interest.
This brought us to the end of another week. They students are getting better at searching for information, songs and pictures which interest them. They are motivated by personal interest, and I believe this will help them hone their skills. Practice using English is not a priority at this stage.
Students are still engaged in e-mail exchange with the American students and the ESL students in Australia. On each day, different students had a new message to read and respond to. It's very good to see them reading and writing in English voluntarily, to real people. (I've discouraged them from cc'ing me copies. I've collected enough proof of ability to respond to e-mail. I do, however, encourage them to respond.)
(c) Bill Pellowe
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