Thing 9: Search Tools Ninja

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Even if you’ve been searching the Internet since the days of Gopher, Veronica, Archie and Jughead (Hello 1990!), there are always new search tools, tips and tricks to learn. It’s hard to keep up. So here’s your chance to dig deeper into tools you know well or branch out into some new ones.


What web search tools do you recommend to your students? Sure, many of us seem to turn to Google or Bing first. And teaching students the best ways to use Google and Bing is important. But there are other search tools that can help in any number of circumstances. Folks from our Cool Tools for School Facebook group suggested some of the following selections. Have other tools to share? Leave a comment below and/or write about them in your blog post.

  • DuckDuckGo: A search engine that doesn’t track what you’re searching. Try comparing results from DuckDuckGo and other search engines that track what you’re searching and customize the results.
  • Million Short – “Million Short is an experimental web search engine (really, more of a discovery engine) that allows you to REMOVE the top million (or top 100k, 10k, 1k, 100) sites from the results set. We thought it might be somewhat interesting to see what we’d find if we just removed an entire slice of the web.”
  • Carrot Search – This is a metasearch engine, it gathers results from other search engines, rather than creating its own database. Search results are clustered together into related sub-categories to help you focus your search. From your search results page, select the Clusters or Foam Tree options for visual display of results and concepts.
  • Yippy – Another metasearch engine with clustering features. Metasearch tools search through multiple search engines to retrieve results.
  • Build Your Own! Google Custom Search: Set up a search box that covers just the sites you think are useful for a particular topic. You could easily collaborate with others and build really substantial custom searches for specific topics. The search box can be embedded on your web pages.
  • Scoopit: Have a topic you want to keep up with? Check to see if anyone has a Scoopit page on your topic. If not, consider creating one and sharing your discoveries with others.
  • LibGuides: Costs money to build your own resource guides. But don’t overlook FREE access to a treasure trove of search guides that others have created. Take advantage of the expertise of your colleagues!
  • Serendipity: A search tool for finding Open Educational Resources and Open Courseware.
  • Instya: Searches across multiple search engines – a meta-search tool. Enter your search and send it to the search tools you select.
  • Global Trend Tracker – This tool presents Google’s latest search trends via an interactive world globe. Fun way to access and present the inforamtion.
  • Listen Notes – Terrific new search tool for podcasts. Easy to search for individual podcast episodes or podcast series. Save episodes to listen to later. Includes links to subscribe via iTunes or RSS.  Create audio clips, download audio, and more.

Younger Students

  • KidRex: KidRex uses Google’s Custom Search technology and Safe Search filtering to search the web. But it searches the broader web, not a a hand-picked selection of web sites. More information about KidRex.
  • Choosito – Search the web or the Choosito library of content. Limit search by reading level and/or subject area. Worth a look if you work with younger children. Free/fee options.
  • PebbleGo – A popular search tool for PreK – 3rd grade. ($ commercial service)



OPTIONS: As usual, there are lots of options. Pick an option (or two!) from the following list or strike out on your own and explore something related to this topic.

  1. Search Tools: Pick a tool you don’t know well and explore it. Is it appropriate for the students you work with?
  2. Custom Search: Create a Google Custom Search and share it with the rest of us! You may not be able to embed it on your Cool Tools blog, but you can link to it.
  3. Compare: Pick a topic and compare the results across several tools
  4. Curate: Create a new subject guide for an upcoming research project or one of your interests. Use your favorite curation tool. Don’t have one? Check out Thing 6: Curation.
  5. Power Searching with Google: Work through some of the Google search lessons and amp up your Google skills.


  • Write & publish your blog post.
  • Copy the URL (webpage address) for your post.
  • Return to the Google Classroom assignment page, find the assignment page for the lesson you just completed and follow the directions for turning in and sharing your work.

*Only for students participating in the workshop for PD credit hours through the Google Classroom.

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