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A recent blog post by Cathy Nelson shared the way she has remixed her DISCUS and web evaluation presentation to be more engaging and relevant to her students.  That reminded me how hard it can be to hold kids’ interest as we teach research skills that can often be confusing at best and boring at worst.  

One example of such a skill is boolean searching, which was why I was intrigued when I heard about Boolify.


Boolify takes takes a hands-on approach to learning boolean through an interactive  process of  refining a search using and, not, and or as limiters.  Using a whiteboard with a drag-and-drop interface, students are guided by onscreen hints as they manipulate their search terms. 

At the bottom of the screen, they can see real time results of a particular search string from Bing, and these results are automatically updated each time they change their strategy.  How’s that for immediate, accurate, constructive feedback!

The site provides some good instructional resources, too.   Click he “Help” tab to watch three brief videos showing step-by-step instructions on how to use Boolify.  The “Lessons” tab provides links to some lesson ideas and has an embedded YouTube video that introduce and reinforce the topic of boolean searching. 

Colorful, interactive, intuitive – what more could you ask for in a research tool!

By the way, Boolify is part of the GLEAN website, which features free learning tools for science, math, and information literacy.  The other two information literacy tools are Comparison Search, which helps students explore differing points of view on a topic, and Who-Is, which teaches students to analyze websites for credibility. 

If you use any of these resources with your students, please leave a comment and share your experience!

p.s. I have been holding back on this post for a few weeks because of some apparent anomalies I’ve discovered in the searching.  I emailed the site manager to ask for clarification, but haven’t heard back yet.  I’ve decided to post this anyway and ask for comments on the usefulness of the tool.

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