Google Games & Digitial Citizenship

Try out active learning games that tie effective use of Google's tools for accessing information with important skills related to digital citizenship (i.e., evaluating information, citing sources, note-taking, avoiding plagiarism, etc.). Learn to turn "worksheet activities" into "fun games" for developing information skills across the curriculum.

Are your students poor searchers?
Do your students have the attention span of a flea?
Are your students likely to use Wikipedia and go no deeper?
Are your students expecting to find "www.TheAnswerToMyQuestion.com"?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, it's time for Google Games!

Billions of Google searches are logged everyday. How can you harness the power of Internet inquiries for classroom teaching and learning? What do we want our students to be able to do with a Google Search?

Watkins and Elder (2006) found that students were looking for information on 19th century Paris and the French Restoration, but they end up at Restoration Warehouse a hardware store in California. Another student looks for Bourbon Dynasty, a ruling family in Europe and finds websites on Kentucky Bourbon and mixed drinks.

Students doing a history fair project in Indiana cited that satirical website The Onion as a good source for historical information.

Rather than focusing on general Google searches, look at special features such as reading level or image searches.

small blockWhat Google products do you use?
How are you teaching students about using Google resources and tools?

Google Games

Google Games: CreatureGo to the Google Game: Creatures wikispace to try a Google Game. Does it contain the following four elements?

All games have four elements. When you create a game, be sure to GRAF it.

  1. Goal. You need a way to win or achieve the goal.
    As educators we need to match goals with purposes and reasons for learning.
  2. Rules. You need to know what you may and may not do. 
    As educators, we need to provide guidelines for learning.
  3. Action and Attitude. You must do something along the way. Make it fun and interesting. 
    As educators we need to make leanring meaningful and challenging.
  4. Feedback. You need to know how you are doing. 
    As educators, we need to provide ongoing opportunities to self, peer, and teacher assessment.

Google-Sponsored Google Games

Go to A Google a Day. It's a fun activity to test your knowledge of searching. You can go back and look at previous topics to build your own project such as Gettysburg.

Go to What's the Search? This Google Inside Search activity asks students to create a creative caption using search words. Participants can their vote for their favorites.

Go to Google's Demo Slam. You can either participate in the slam by watching the two videos and voting. Or, you can explore groups of demos on lots of Google topics by clicking on the icons in the stands. Finally, you can participate by creating your own demo to enter into the slam competition! You can also join the DemoSlam Facebook page. If you're looking for lots of examples of Google Video demos, go to the Google Channel at YouTube.

Go Gwigle for a non-google product game.

small blockExplore a couple of these games. 
What skills could you acquire and practice using these games?

Wiki-based Google Games

Try one of the following games. Think about what type of game you could design that would connect Google tools with a content area search.

  1. Go to the Dr. Seuss Quote Game. Randomly choose a quote and search to find out if the quote is really from Dr. Seuss. Notice how the random number generator can be embedded into an activity.
  2. Go to Meaningful Monuments. Travel the world collecting monuments from different countries. Score points based on how much you know about each monument. Use Google images along the way.
  3. Go to Mad Scientist Game.  Level up by moving from Igor the Assistant to Mad Scientist. The winner is the Mad Scientist receiving the most votes. The winning experiment will be demonstrated in class. Along the way, use Google search and Google video search.
  4. Go to Goofy Global News. Summarize news stories and write your own stories. Can your friends tell the fact from the fake? Explore the Weekly World News and other magazine archives at Google Books.
  5. Go to the Google Doodle Game. Explore Google Doodles and make your own.
  6. Go to The Grand Adventure. Use lots of Google tools to go on a Grand Adventure around the world.

life vestExamine the wiki-based games. Then look at the idea pages for one of the games. Discuss how you might adapt this game or build your own.

Game Ideas

glupHoaxes and Fake Sites. Students need to distinguish fact from fiction from fake. Unfortunately, most students aren't very concerned about accuracy, they're simply seeking an answer to a question or a funny photo to put on Facebook. Get them interested in asking themselves about accuracy. Learning to identify fiction, hoaxes and fake sites is an important skill. How can you tell? Explore the Google Content fake sites. What questions do you have about the content? How would you find out if it's real or fake? Explore Google Fake Sites:

Design an game that involves voting for your favorite Google Fake Site and inventing one for this April Fool's Day. Compare the Google Fake Sites with other fake sites. For more ideas, go to Google Evaluation.

Explore other great Google Product Ideas:

Game Tools

Use the Dynamic Paper from Illuminations to create nets, graph paper, number lines, number grids, tessellations, shapes, spinners and more.

Virtual Game Boards

Seek tools that don't have distracting ads. Think about how some of the following tools might be used to design activities:

Game Makers. Use a game show atmosphere. Use laptops for students to search for answers.

Whiteboard Tools. Keep score in front of the classroom on a whiteboard.

QR Tools. Incorporate QR codes into your gameplay.

General Sources. There are lots of generators and tools that could be integrated into the gaming atmosphere.

Card Games

Post Card Games. Use Postcards as a way for students to share what they've learned. Go to Endangered Animals Postcards or Australia Animals Postcards. Pick an animal. Locate information. Summarize, cite source, and send card

Case Cards. Create paper-based cards (print from PowerPoint) that jumpstart a search. Roll the Dice to determine your case file number. Provide basic information. Students must solve the problem. Use a bulletin board in the classroom to classify cards or share answers.

Use Trading Card Generators. Create your own cards.

life vestTry It!
Design a simple Google Game for a particular instructional situation. It should have GRAF: Goals, Rules, Attitudes/Actions, and Feedback.

To learn more, go to the all-day Google Games workshop.

Digital Citizenship

Many laws and federal regulations apply to youth and online social technology. Learn the rights and responsibilities of teens, the relevant laws, and what teachers and librarians need to know in order to implement them within your school. Explore approaches to teaching students about their role as responsible digital citizens.

Our young people are active users of social technology.

They have technology. Now we want to help our students make good choices about its use. However when we get preachy, we lose them.

Rights and Responsibility

Rather than creating a culture of fear, we need to help young people make good choices.

Safety Issues

Many adults are concerned about the safety of teens online. Nancy Willard (2006) identified three concerns: (1) brain research reveals that teens are immature and can make poor choices in social situations, (2) many parents don't monitor student activities, (3) dangerous adults are attracted to young people who make poor choices.

Educators must promote and model legal and ethical technology practices.



Educating students is part of the standards as well as a requirement of BDIA. More than 3/4 of young people think digital abuse is a serious problem (MTV-AP, 2009).

Promote American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Standards for the 21st Century Learner.

Teens must learn to access and evaluate the information found on social networks. 

Teens must learn to follow legal regulations and demonstrate ethical behavior associated with social networks.

Promote International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for Students

Standard 5: Digital Citizenship - Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior. Students:  

  1. advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.
  2. exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity.
  3. demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning.
  4. exhibit leadership for digital citizenship.

Develop stand-alone units as well as materials that can be integrated across the curriculum.

Social Technology and Moral Development

As you think about talking with students about digital citizenship, keep in mind that students come to your classroom with diverse abilities in dealing with moral dilemmas.

life vestHow will you deal with the different developmental levels?
Why is it important to understand the maturation of your students?

Information, Choices, and Action

Read more about Ethical Use of Social Technology: The Decision-making Process (PDF) or click the image below on left. 
(Adapted from Annette Lamb, Everyone Does It. Teaching Ethical Use of Social TechnologyKnowledge Quest)

life vestSelect one aspect and discuss how it could be introduced to students in a relevant and meaningful way.

Instructional Strategies

Read more about Ethical Use of Social Technology: Instructional Strategies (PDF) or click the image above right.
(Adapted from Annette Lamb, Everyone Does It. Teaching Ethical Use of Social TechnologyKnowledge Quest)

life vestSelect one approach that you think might be effective for a particular situation. Provide an example of what might be taught.

Teacher Resources

Explore the following resources for ideas:

Promote Digital Citizenship

  1. Model Effective UseExample: Post booktrailers on YouTube. Explore the Trailee Awards
  2. Engage StudentsExample: Use social networks to promote resources and services. ExampleVirtual Presence
  3. Be Available. Example: Use social networks to increase visibility. Participate in an online book club. ExampleGood Reads
  4. Build Communities. Example: Build a sense of community by creating community programs such as online parenting or nature studies. Example:One Book
  5. Sponsor Events. Example: Offer programs that focus on ethical behavior such as the availability of public domain resources and sources for creating original music using tools such as Garage Band.

Rather than overemphasizing the negative, focus on preparing young people to be responsible digital citizens. Focus on practical strategies for handling tough situations and the many positive applications of online communication and collaboration.

To learn more, go to Social Technology and Digital Citizenship.

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