Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Google a Day

I'm always looking for little activities - AKA "bellringers" - to kick off a class period -- something for the kids to do while they wait for their classmates to log on, papers to be handed out, etc. Bellringers help ease the transition from the hallways to instructional time.  The best bellringers:
  • Require little or no instruction
  • Have directions that can be posted on the SmartBoard
  • Are engaging (a game, competitive challenge, relevant to teens, etc)
  • Reinforce information literacy skills (DUH!)
Recently, Google provided the EXACT thing to fit the bill. It's called "A Google a Day." Thanks, Geek Dad, for introducing it to me (I'm neither male, nor a parent, but I still dig the blog).
Google provides a daily question, and challenges users to find the answer. Users playing along search via a special interface that filters out results designed to specifically answer the Google-A-Day question. Google says, "to keep the game interesting for everyone, we created Deja Google – A wormhole inspired time machine that searches the Internet as it existed before the game began. Because nobody wants someone's recent blog post about finding an answer spoiling their fun."

Today's question is: "What continent has the most French speakers in the world?" I think this is one of the easier ones they've posted. Previous questions include:
  • "How long would it take to walk to all the cities that have served as capitals of the U.S. government since the signing of the Constitution?"
  • "I was celebrated as the paladin of Uruk, but my legacy is in the realm of ancient literature. Who am I?"
  •  "Rembrandt painted a philosopher looking at the bust of a Greek poet. The gold medallion on the chain represents another famous Greek. Who is it?"
When searching, Google times you (I can't believe how much pressure that little ticking clock adds!). When you think you know the answer, submit it in the box provided, and Google will tell you if you're correct.

I have yet to try it with classes, but I can't wait to roll it out. I won't use it all the time, but when I'm teaching lessons on Internet searching, it provides the perfect warm-up. (I also love that it challenges my "I can find anything" librarian ego.)

Check it out at

Can you think of ways to use a Google a Day in your instructional practice?

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