Friday, October 15, 2010

Powerful Free Search Tool - A Must for Researching

This week I have had the pleasure of having YoLink representatives fly to my town and present their free refine search tool plug in. The company taught to all of my 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students, presented at the MAIS-TEC meeting, along with visiting and presenting at other local area schools and school systems. This is a demonstration that all teachers must tap into. If you can't have the representatives come to your school you can ask for them to teach via a webinar.
How they instruct and talk to the students is amazing. The presenters make this tool a child's ah-ha moment. I found many students utilizing the tool immediately after their session. It is a way for all of us to trim out the fluff in our internet searches and as Brennan Igoe said, "have x-ray vision on our search results to sneak a peak at what the links contain." (You use the term having x-ray vision to any group of children and you have their attention.)

I can not thank YoLink, Brennan Igoe, Courtney McConnell, and Joe Pagliocco enough for what they have shared and taught us here. I highly recommend others to do what I have done and study and learn this great free tool. (Thanks YoLink for making it free to us too!)

This post contains my notes from what I learned about YoLink and how to teach this tool to the students. It also contains a few fix features that we had to do at our school.
1) We needed to make sure that we had the most recent plug-in installed.
2) Since we are a Google Apps for Education school using a different domain name that @gmail we had to use the Change Domain Name link found in the pull down menu beside the YoLink toolbar plug-in.
3) Our school filter blocked the YoLink search bar that is embedded in the site from working. We had to allow and to go through.

Here are my notes:
ask kids what issues do they get when they deal with google
- lots of hits - buried information

yolink can help you find the good sites
ask kids if they have read choose your own adventure books. if so did you ever peak to see where your results would lead you?
- YoLink lets you see what the different links given to you in your search results page contain. It is like x-ray vision on the Internet.

YoLink only can search any webpage with text. (PDFs, online books, search engine result pages, websites, etc)

teach students endings of URLs. talk about .com .net .edu and .gov links
- know that edu and gov are more trustworthy.
if you use a .com or .net (etc) then you need to find multiple instances for your site info - cuz lots of stuff not true.
(discuss editing of sites like wikipedia. purchasing your own site via godaddy. show pacific northwest tree octopus - site = hoax)
Show students how to search w/in google by adding site:edu or site:gov to just get those URL pages back = more reliable info or 4me.sweetsearch - for students (K-college and K-8) like a free nettrekker. Preselected, preapproved sites from people who are education based jobs

Demo YoLink tool:
go to google
conduct a search
open yolink plugin
Click Find to rescan google results - extracts paragraphs that brings out keywords goes into each site and searches for the text without having to actually open
hover over results in yolink side - it will show where the link is - click on it and it will open up link in search result window leaving yolink side up

color coding feature - add more terms - each color represents different searched word
can change to bring back paragraphs that contain ALL key words

click find again and goes through more links

YoLink - partnership with others to search & share information

YoLink search results: numbers represent link on the site it is skimming, letters represent paragraph within site.

yellow star - creates a bookmark on your browser - saves cache copy of page - so if internet page changes - search results will be saved on the yolink server. saved page keeps yolink toolbar with keyword highlighted

share icon or alien fingers - web 2.0 features
(if school blocks social sites it is still blocked)
- click easy bib then click citation button

email features sends a link to the cached copy with yolink search results

click google doc link and it pulls out paragraphs you found with link on a doc or if in spreadsheet - each paragraph is in a separate cell

can use with online text books


  1. Terrific post, Melissa. I think Yolink is a MUST-USE tool for students - they should be learning it in 4th grade. Thanks for your mention of Sweet Search. When your filter was blocking cloud.yolink, did Sweet Search still work, albeit without the Yolink functionality? Was the appearance askew?

  2. Mark - SweetSearch and 4me.SweetSearch are perfect for the classroom. It is exactly what younger students need, a free search engine on the web that teaches them how to search with out all the garbage and paid sites. I appreciate this tool and have shared it with many kids and grown-ups.

    The SweetSearch site worked perfectly except for the YoLink built in search tool on that page. My network administrator had to unblock it and now it is just fine. The appearance was fine, nothing askew. When you went to refine your search it just did not work. My administrator did say that our filtering site, Lightspeed, classified that links as a phishing site and was nervous about allowing it. But I pleaded and got it unblocked.

  3. Melissa, I'm thrilled to hear SweetSearch works so well for you. It's starting to really catch on with educators. Thanks for the feedback on the blocking issue; I'll work with Yolink to contact the major filtering companies.


Thanks for commenting! I appreciate your thoughts, opinions, and feedback.