TEACHER’S GUIDE yolink + search engines
TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S
From Search to Find using yolink
Decoding Your Search
Understanding the URL
Search Strategies Outline
Planning Your Search
Performing Your Search
Sample Search Strategy: Elephants
Different search engines yield different results
yolink and different search engines
Precision of the question asked
Efficiency of getting to the answer
Becoming a more efficient searcher starts with developing better search skills and strategies. To support teachers’
efforts to teach search strategies to students, yolink has created this guide. This document discusses search as a
process, and includes ideas for developing the critical thinking skills necessary to evaluate and utilize information.
It also contains classroom activities and examples that will help both students and teachers understand the search
process from planning through execution. It is a basic guide to search and may be useful in learning more about
how yolink functions and aids in online searching.
Searching for information can be an overwhelming process. There is so much available online that it may be difficult
to know where to start. Many of us use search engines on a daily basis. How effectively are we employing search
strategies to efficiently find information? Very often we let our searches begin and end on the first page of results.
The prospect of looking at each link, and then clicking back and forth between websites can be daunting. It is a time
consuming and frustrating task. No wonder we cross our fingers and hope that the information we’re looking for will
just magically appear on page one.
The information we are looking for is not always easy to find. There may be more relevant and reliable information
sources that are located deeper in the search results pages. How can we find that information faster and without
spending so much time navigating through website after website? What if we could “see behind the links” of a
search engine results page without the need to click back and forth to each website? What if our search engine re-
sults could be narrowed and sorted in seconds, displaying key words in context and eliminating the need to navigate
through a myriad of links?
There is a faster way to search and find the information you need. yolink is a free research tool that can help you
find better information faster. Adding yolink to your search strategy can improve the quality of your results and your
utilization of the information.
yolink can be used to search databases, websites, search engines, and so much more. There are many
applications for using yolink, but this guide will focus on one aspect: search engines. We hope that you find this
information useful in the classroom and beyond.
From Search to Find with yolink
As the amount of data available on the Web keeps growing, learners will continue to be faced with complex and
overwhelming information streams. The right information gets harder and harder to find. That time spent searching
and retrieving information is ultimately measured by the precision of answers provided. You can save your students
time and frustration by providing them with the right tools and strategies needed for maximum efficiency and suc-
cess in FINDING what they need on the Web.
Shifting from “SEARCH” to “FIND” is dependent on two fundamental components:
1. The precision of the question asked (better key words, narrow the information type)
2. The efficiency of getting to the answer (fewer search attempts and clicks)
If you are engaging in any research initiative, you want to ensure that students are equipped to both search and find.
It may be tempting to steer students toward a preselected list of sites to avoid the hassle of searching, but optimal
precision and efficiency require skills that take time and practice to acquire.
No single search engine has indexed every site on the Web, and different search engines yield different results. It
is important for teachers and students to realize that they are only searching the sites contained in that particular
search engine’s database. This is the reason we should get in the habit of performing the same search using two or
more search engines. This will enable us to be as thorough and accurate in our research as possible.
A more complete list of search engines can be found at Wikipedia’s List of Search Engines page:
Decoding Your Search
Becoming web literate involves developing the skills of not only reading the search results, but also knowing how
to use the various components. Having the ability to decode search results will help learners:
• Understand which search results are relevant
• Determine which web pages are most likely to contain the information they are seeking
The diagram below points out four features that are important to understanding the search results page:
(Source: Google Support)
1. The title: The first line of any search result is the title of the web page. The title is what
the author of the page designated as the best short description of the page.
2. The snippet: A description of or an excerpt from the web page.
3. The URL: The web page’s address.
4. Cached link: A link to an earlier version of this page. Click here if the page you wanted isn’t available.
UNDERSTANDING THE URL
The website URL and domain name can give important clues about the content of the site. The Uniform Re-
source Locator, or URL for short, is the global address of the documents, resources, and content on the Web.
A URL is made up of several parts. Each part of the web address has a special meaning. We can break down each
portion of the web address both contextually and graphically.
The first element in any URL is the Protocol. Basically, this tells your browser that it will be loading a web page
or other document that exists on the web. Web browsers can use other protocols to access various kinds of
information on the Internet. Other types of protocols include File Transfer Protocol (ftp) and most email transfers
(SMTP, IMAP, POP3, etc).
SERVER DOMAIN NAME (Location.ServerName.DomainType)
The second element to every URL is the server domain name, which is like the street address of the web server.
Basically, the domain name tells the browser where it can find the web page in question, and in theory, the domain
name reads similar to a street address. Information is listed from most specific to most general. In the above
example, the “domain” name consists of three parts: “www”, “oregonzoo”, and “org”. The location (most often
“www”, though sometimes a sub-domain such as “blogs” as in http://blogs.sandiegozoo.com) precedes the server
name (most often the name of the company or organization), which is then followed by top-level domain type or
See a full list of domain types at Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Internet_top-level_domains.
See a full list of country codes at NetLingo: www.netlingo.com/country.php
FILE PATH (Folder/Sub-Folder)
The third element included in a URL is the file path. This element tells the browser where to go on the server to
look for the requested web page. In the example above, the file path specifies “Cards.” So the web browser
will look on the server for a folder called “Cards.” File paths can include nested or sub-folders as well. In our
example, consider the sub-folder “Elephants.” Our file path specifies multiple layers of folders. First, the browser
will look for a folder called “Cards.” Assuming it finds that folder, it will look for a folder called “Elephants” within
the “Cards” folder. The path is anything that appears after the “/” after the hostname, but before a possible “?”.
The final element to a URL is the actual file name of the web page in question. In the example above, the file
name of the web page we are looking for is “elephant_exhibit.htm”. Note that most web pages will end in “.htm”
or “.html”, though “.asp” and “.php” continue to grow in popular buildouts of web pages and sites.
To sum up how URL’s work, let’s take another look at our sample URL:
www.oregonzoo.org/Cards/Elephants/elephant_exhibit.htm. The protocol tells the browser that it should look for
a web page. The domain name tells the browser that it should look for a web server at an organization named
Oregon Zoo. The file path tells the browser to look for a folder called “Cards,” and then within that, a sub-folder
called “Elephants” on the web server. The file name tells the browser which page in the “Elephants” folder it
should copy and display for the user.
SEARCH STRATEGIES OUTLINE
PLANNING your search:
Brainstorm for ideas and topics
Select a topic for your search
Form several questions for your search topic:
How many different ways can you think of to say the same thing?
What words would an expert in your topic use?
Determine key words and terms to use in your search
PERFORMING your search:
Start searching using web search engines:
1. Use a few different search engines, repeating the search terms in each.
Try repeating the same search in a couple of different search engines using the same keywords.
2. Use yollink to display search results in context.
After performing the initial search, use the yo button to activate the yolink search.
The results are displayed in the side panel of your browser. The key words are highlighted, color-coded,
and shown in context. This eliminates the need to click on each link to find what you need.
3. Refine your search using yolink.
Analyze the yolink results in context to determine which results interest you. If necessary, add or delete
terms from the yolink search box to further refine your results. yolink offers many options for expanding
and reducing the scope of your search. Use the drop down menus in the yolink side panel to view and
select options to help you with your search.
4. Save your findings with yolink’s save and share features.
Once you find results that interest you, use yolink to save and/or share your information. Using yolink allows
you to go from information searching, to finding to creating. The yolink tool provides numerous ways to save
and share your information, including:
•Social bookmarking sites (Diigo, Delicious, etc.)
•Social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
•Create new Google Docs or Spreadsheets
•Append information to existing Google Docs or Spreadsheets
•Create and share documents using Evernote integration
Begin by BRAINSTORMING
Brainstorming exercises may be useful in helping students decide on a possible topic or concept to research. Even if
students already have a general idea of what they want to research, or have an assigned topic, brainstorming may be
an effective exercise to perform in the early planning stages of an assignment.
During the initial stages of this brainstorming activity, students should be encouraged to think freely. Whatever comes
to mind can be included without the need to edit in the beginning. First, we want to get it all out on paper. Then, we
will move on to looking at it analytically and making revisions.
The brainstorming exercises should enable students to think creatively, list ideas, and visualize their thoughts. The
process of thinking, writing down those thoughts (visualization), and reflecting on them may have positive benefits for
students. This visualization of their thoughts could be a catalyst that leads students to make discoveries about what
they think they know. Visualizing the information may lead students to see relationships between words and ideas of
which they may have been previously unaware. It may reveal terminology and relationships that are helpful in guiding
their further research.
After the initial brainstorming session, students should be encouraged to view their own results with an analytical
eye. Students may create a mind map based on their brainstorming activities, linking the relationships between ideas,
concepts, and terminology. The goal of this linking exercise is for students to develop the ability to organize, synthesize,
and analyze their thoughts. It encourages students to continually look for connections and relationships.
Brainstorming is a process that can be returned to and performed repeatedly throughout the searching process. Once
new information is learned or discovered, it may be helpful to brainstorm about the new information and how it relates
to or changes what students think they know about a topic.
Teachers may want to model the brainstorming process for their students and lead the class in a few guided examples.
If you need help with this, see our Modeling Exercise on page 11.
TRY SOME BRAINSTORMING EXERCISES WITH YOUR STUDENTS.
BRAINSTORMING EXERCISES: Synonyms
Effective searching requires students to look at and make choices about their vocabulary and terminology. A basic
skill that good searchers have in common is the ability to use synonyms. Good searchers are aware that there may be
several ways to say the same thing.
Try this exercise:
Using a blank piece of paper, ask the students to create 5 spaces. In each of these 5 spaces, have the student place
a word. The word can be anything from a noun, verb, adjective, or whatever comes to mind. Then, after everyone has
their words selected, talk to the students about synonyms. What are synonyms? How do you find them? When are
they used? Ask students to try to find synonyms for the 5 random words they have on their page. Encourage them to
come up with more than one synonym for each word. These synonyms can be words they already know or words they
find on the Web using reference tools like a thesaurus or dictionary.
film motion picture
basic easy negotiate bargain
pasta noodles contemplate consider wonder
After completing the initial synonym exercise, encourage the students to trade papers with a partner. Looking at
these new words from their partners, ask the students to find any additional synonyms for their partner’s words. This
process can be repeated, having the students trade papers 2 or 3 times to allow input from several different students.
Return the papers to the original owners at the end of the exercise and then discuss the results as a class or in small
After students have found their synonyms, discuss the process, either in small groups or as a class. What did they
find? What was difficult? What helped them or made the process easier? Why would it be necessary to know how to
find synonyms? How might synonyms be useful when constructing a search strategy?
Search as a Process:
Share with students your observations about vocabulary and how it relates to creating a search strategy. For example:
•Having a broader vocabulary helps you formulate better, more precise search strategies.
•Trying several different search terms will help you compare and contrast results to determine what
is relevant and what is not so relevant.
•Knowing how to find synonyms for words increases your access to vocabulary and increases your
ability to find information.
•Using a thesaurus can help you find and learn new words and their meanings.
BRAINSTORMING EXERCISES: Synonyms continued
Take it to the Web:
Encourage the students to practice searching in a major search engine using their words and synonyms to perform
a few practice searches. This exercise should be viewed as a practice and play session. The goal of this exercise is to
allow students to play around with their words and synonyms, create and try a few different searches, and to think
about search as a process. There is no right or wrong answer to this play session. This is a time for students to
practice searching and familiarize themselves with search engines and results. Students may develop some
critical thinking skills by performing the searches themselves and looking at the relationship between their keywords
and synonyms, and the results they see in different search engines based on their search terms. Increasing exposure
is the goal here. Encourage students to have fun while becoming more familiar with search engines and keywords.
Practice and Repetition:
Practicing exercises like this is something that should be done periodically throughout the school year. Students need
continual practice devoted to this skill. This is an activity that they can revisit from time to time. Repetition will help to
reinforce these skills.
BRAINSTORMING EXERCISES: Vocabulary
DIFFERENT PEOPLE USE DIFFERENT WORDS TO SAY THE SAME THING
Professionals in different disciplines will often use a language specific to their discipline or field of study. Discovering
this language may be helpful when doing research or looking for information related to an industry or profession.
What examples can you think of to demonstrate how different professions use words that are specific to their industry?
A word we might all be familiar with is color. But to an artist, color has an expanded vocabulary that we may or may
not know. Brainstorming allows us to explore other ways of thinking about words and ideas. If you were an artist, how
many other words could you think of to talk about or describe color?
Show the following example and guide the students through this process. Add words when necessary or ask the stu-
dents to create a similar list.
artist color pigment hue tint shade
banker money currency finances
musician song melody tune composition
astronaut space universe galaxy
Reinforce: Explain to students that different people use different words to say the same thing. Knowing how to find
synonyms will help students discover new words and different ways of saying the same thing.
Sample Search Strategy: Elephants
Suppose I want to learn more about elephants. Searching using the word “elephant” in a search engine will result in
TOO MANY results! I can never read through all of them to find the information I need. It is helpful to think more about
my topic before beginning my search on the Web. I want to make a plan that will help me search more effectively. I can
start by brainstorming:
What is it I want to know about elephants?
What do I already know?
I choose to do some brainstorming making a mental map:
where do they live? HUGE
how many are
how big are they?
are they endangered?
what do they eat?
types of elephants ELEPHANTS
how many? what types?
what is their
nearest relative? how long do they live?
what is the scientific
name for elephant?
After making my mental map (or mind map) I determine that what interests me most about elephants is their size. I
want to know how big elephants are, and how they get to be so big. I start to formulate some questions I have
about this topic.
• How do elephants get so big?
• What does an elephant eat?
• How much do elephants eat each day?
• How much does an elephant weigh?
Now I can review my questions and rephrase them if necessary to help determine the key words I will use in my search.
The questions below are another way that I can phrase the questions I have listed above. Rephrasing may help me
discover more words to use for my search strategy.
• What is a typical diet for an elephant?
• What does an average elephant weigh?
MODELING EXERCISE continued
Sample Search Strategy: Elephants
I decide on a few key words: ELEPHANT, WEIGHT, DIET. This will be the search strategy I will use in a couple of
different search engines. Based on my results, I can then add or delete key words to help me refine my search.
I can also use the yolink tool in my browser to help me refine my search. After I perform my initial search us-
ing a major search engine, I click on the yo button in my browser. This opens a side panel displaying my results. The
keywords I used: ELEPHANT, WEIGHT, and DIET are highlighted using different colors for each word. In this example,
ELEPHANT is yellow, WEIGHT is pink, and DIET is blue. This color-coding of key words allows me to quickly scan my
yolink results to find the words I am looking for faster, and in context. This means that I do not have to click on each
link listed on my search engine results page, navigate to that page, and then search for my key words. With yolink, my
results are displayed in context and easy to find because my key words are highlighted and color-coded.
Finding results using yolink makes my research more efficient and effective. I can see behind the links on a page of
search engine results, and I am able to read those results in context without navigating back and forth between links.
If I choose to navigate away from the results page and visit a link, I do not get lost. All of my search results are saved in
my yolink side panel and I can easily return to my yolink list of results without clicking back and forth and getting lost in
For me, using yolink means:
• I do not get lost in my searching.
• I finish my search must faster.
• I find more relevant results.
When I find something I want to save for the future or share with others, yolink offers me simple ways to organize my
information. At the click of a button I can choose to save my results, create a document using Google Docs or
Evernote, email my findings to a friend, post my findings to my Facebook or Twitter account, or add what I found to a
social bookmarking site for later reference. There are so many ways I can save, share, and use the information I find
using yolink. How will you use yolink?
Different search engines yield different results
• Demonstrate this concept to students by performing example searches using the same keywords on a few
different search engines. Ask students to discuss the differences in the search engine results and how this
knowledge may inﬂuence the way they conduct searches in the future.
• Students may conduct searches using 3 or 4 different search engines using the same keywords. Ask
students to discuss the differences in the search engine results and how this knowledge may inﬂuence the
way they conduct searches in the future.
yolink and different search engines
• Repeat the demonstration above by performing example searches using the same keywords on a few differ
ent search engines. Show the students how to use the Find button in the yolink side display after
performing an initial search. Discuss with students the differences in the search engine results and how
they are displayed when using yolink. Discuss how the information is organized in the yolink side display.
For example, results are displayed in context, the key terms are highlighted and color-coded, etc.
Demonstrate that even though the search engines may be different, yolink uses the same organization when
displaying results. After discussing how yolink displays search results, ask students how yolink might
influence or change how they conduct searches in the future.
• Students may conduct searches using 3 or 4 different search engines and using the same keywords. Ask
students to use the Find button in the yolink side display after their initial search. Working in small groups,
ask students to discuss the differences in the search engine results and any observations about how yolink
organizes their search results. Does this new knowledge influence how they plan to conduct searches
in the future?
Precision of the question asked
• Demonstrate to students how to ask more precise questions. Using examples from your previous
searches, demonstrate for them how adding search terms to the search box can refine their searches and
provide more precise results. You may refer back to the modeling exercise for the elephant example. If
your original search term was “elephants,” but what you are really looking for is information about “why
are elephants so big?” you may need to think about your question and what you are really asking. Examining
this question, we can determine that what we need to know about elephants is what they eat and what they
weigh. Talk through this decision making process with your students. Demonstrate the search by typing all
of the following words into your search box as key terms: “elephants” “diet” and “weight.” Point out how
this refines the results from an originally much larger number (approximately 14 million) to a more reduced
number of results (approximately 421,000). Discuss with students how asking more precise questions and
reducing results helps them find the information they need. Use your own examples to demonstrate the
process of formulating a more precise question and identifying key words from those questions.
• Help students formulate a question they would like to have answered. You can do this by demonstrating the
process of recognizing and selecting the relevant key terms from their question to be used in a search
engine. Using some of their original searches as a starting point, ask students to formulate questions for
those searches and identify the key terms in their questions (the words that will be typed into a search box on
a search engine).
• Practice: Allow students some time to practice formulating questions, determining key words, and
using search engines and yolink to find their answers. Encourage discussion about the
• Discussion: Ask students to discuss any problems or difficulties that arose during this exercise. How did
they overcome them? What did they learned that was helpful?
• Discussion: Ask students how formulating a more precise question and reducing results might help them
find what they are looking for more quickly when conducting searches in search engines. How can they in
corporate this knowledge into their search strategies?
Efficiency of getting to the answer
• Demonstrate to students how yolink can help them find what they’re looking for quickly and with fewer
clicks. Talk about the results page from a typical search engine. There are several results listed on a page,
as well as a hyperlink that you can click on to go to that page and look for your information. When you click
on this hyperlink, you are navigating away from your results screen to visit the website from the hyperlink.
Now you must search this new website for the information you need. Sometimes it is not that easy to find
what you are looking for, and sometimes the hyperlink is irrelevant to your information needs. Imagine if
you could look behind all of those links on the results page at the same time, highlighting your key words
in context for easy recognition, and eliminate the need to click back and forth between links. There is a
browser tool that can help you save time and get to your results faster. Using yolink in a search engine
allows you to search and find what you are looking for faster, without having to visit each website in the
results lists to find the information you need. Displaying the results in context allows you to quickly scan
and read the relevant information without clicking on link after link. Saving time and effort, yolink makes
searching easier and more productive.
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