A Dozen Ways to Web Surf Efficiently!Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just call our own personal computer assistant every time we struggled with our computer? This is especially true with internet searches. Do you type something in the search box and get 1,017,642 hits, but still can’t find what you need? Here are some handy little tricks that will make searching the internet, navigating the web, and using the computer easier for you and your students.

1. Use Google Alerts to save time with searches you do on a regular basis.

  • Step 1: Go to Google – www.google.com
  • Step 2: Click on “News” above the search box
  • Step 3: Click on “News Alerts” in the left hand column
  • Step 4: Click on “You can also sign in to manage your alerts”
  • Step 5: Either sign in with your ‘Google account” or click on “Create an account now.”
  • Step 6: If you created an account, accept the terms.
  • Step 7: Enter your search term, choose how often you want an alert and then click on “Create Alert.”

For example, create an alert for ‘math lesson plans’, or ‘response to intervention’, or ‘autism’, or ‘(your name).’ Now, every time someone posts something on the internet with that topic, Google will send an alert to your email box.

You can view a video tutorial for creating a Google Alert on www.TeacherTube.com. After you click on the link, ENLARGE the video screen so that you can see what I’m doing. To enlarge the video, click on that little box on the bottom right of the video screen. It’s right by the volume control button.

2. Put quotes around key words. For example, rather than search for math lesson plans, search for “math lesson plans” or math “lesson plan.”

3. Add extra phrases to your search in quotes that will help you to zero in on what you are looking for: “best practice,” “teaching math,” or “classroom behavior” autism.

4. Looking for people? Whether you are trying to reconnect with a former colleague or you’re looking for contact information for a specific “expert,” go to www.anywho.com to do your search.

5. Did you find a something on a website last year (a worksheet, an article, etc.) that is no longer there? Maybe it was a link, or a resource, etc? Try searching for that old webpage at http://www.archive.org/index.php.

6. You’ve created a PowerPoint lesson with beautiful graphics and you want to share it with a colleague, but when you try to send the file, it won’t go because it’s too big. You can send up to five large files a month, for free, at www.dropsend.com.

7. When you click on a link from a Google Search and get the “Page Not Found” error, try clicking on the “cache” link instead of the title. You’ll often get the page you were looking for, with the search terms highlighted.

8. Customize your Google Search Engine (You need to be signed in to Google for this to work.)! Just click on “Preferences” on the Google search page and follow the prompts.

9. When you open an article online and want to find a specific word on that page, don’t waste precious time scrolling down to try to find it. In your browser, click on “Edit”. Then select “Find on this page” and click on that. Enter your “word” and search the article, etc. for what you are looking for. This step saves TONS of time.

10. Did you get an error message? Need to find a solution?

  • Step 1: Pull up Notepad or Wordpad.
  • Step 2: Type the error message into the text editor.
  • Step 3: Copy what you typed into the text editor in to your search engine.
  • Step 4: Click “go”, “search” etc.
  • Step 5: You should find links to blog entries or tech help websites that will offer help with solving your error message.
  • Step 6: OPTIONAL – SnagIt (www.snagit.com) can ‘copy’ those messages for you, verbatim, in text format!

11. Want news? Check out www.refdesk.com.

12. This is my absolute favorite trick: Many websites don’t have a search box. How do you find the school calendar, for example, on a district website?

  • Step 1: In the google search box, type ‘calendar’ then leave a space and then type:

    “site: www.whatever__the_school_website_is.com”

    For example: calendar site:www.sau99.k12.nh.us

  • Step 2: Try searching “autism site:edu” without the quote marks. You’ll only get search returns from college and university sources using .edu domains.
    Other examples to try:

    lesson plans site:www.ldonline.org

    differentiated instruction site: www.01e.b23.myftpupload.com

    co-teaching site:www.edublogs.org

Have fun with this. It saves a LOT of time looking for specific things on a website.

And for a Baker’s Dozen, let’s go one step further…

13. If you want to search for a specific file type, for example, PowerPoint presentations on the topic of “exit cards”:

    In the Google Search Box, type: “exit cards” filetype:ppt
    Your search will only pull up PowerPoint presentations on the topic!

Using iPads and Other Cutting Edge Technology to Strengthen Your InstructionFor more information about using technology to strengthen instruction, see Susan Fitzell’s book, Using iPads and Other Cutting Edge Technology to Strengthen Your Instruction.

Would you like to reprint this article, or an article like it, in your newsletter or journal?
CLICK HERE to visit the articles page.