I haven't hidden the fact that I was a HUGE fan of Google's Wonder Wheel—a quirky feature hidden under the More Search Tools link that took broad topics and broke them down into visual webs highlighting related subtopics for researchers.
In fact, I dedicated an entire section of my tech book—Teaching the iGeneration—to the tool, figuring that it was SO good, Google would never get rid of it.
And then they got rid of it.
Understanding that breaking broad topics into more manageable and meaningful subcategories while researching new topics on the web is an essential skill for my sixth grade students, I've spent the past few months looking for substitutes to the Wonder Wheel (see here).
The good news is that Google has recently improved their Related Searches feature in a way that I think will make it a solid substitute for the Wonder Wheel.
Related Searches—which is currently found under the All Results menu in the left sidebar of a user's web browser—does darn near everything that the Wonder Wheel did: Breaking large topics into smaller subcategories, returning results by subcategory instead of by broader topic, introducing students to intellectual connections that they may never have discovered on their own.
Interested in seeing how I plan to introduce the Related Searches feature to my student researchers?
Then check out this handout:
Not bad, huh?
My hope is that the step-by-stepness of this handout will (1). help my students to break broad topics that they are unfamiliar with into smaller, more manageable chunks and (2). reinforce the idea that searching on the Internet has to be a systematic—instead of haphazard and scattered—process in order to be worthwhile.
Hope this helps you, too!
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