Search Strategies: Google’s Wonder Wheel and Timeline

We all know the drill. Kids need to research a topic. They toss keywords into Google and then meander through the results without much idea of what they are looking at or how to narrow their topic. We go on about boolean operators and search tools but really, we aren’t much farther ahead of them in terms of what is available to help in our efforts to find the information we need.

Thanks to Richard Byrne’s Beyond Google document, I found a tool or two that will make life a little easier for effective searching. Google has several options available to us all that are cleverly hidden. One is Wonder Wheel- a graphic based on your keywords that helps see what categories you might choose when trying to narrow a search.

For this example, I will look into windpower as a topic. When I google “wind power,” I get about 50 million hits. Hmmm….this could take a while. Time to narrow it down.

Begin by looking under your search word. You will see a link that says “show options.” Click it.

show options

Show Options link

Clicking the show options link gives you a plethora of links on the left side of the page. Scroll down until you see Wonder Wheel.

Wonder wheel graphic

Wonder Wheel graphic

Choosing “Wonder Wheel” gives you a graphic with suggestions of ways to narrow your search a bit. When you click one of the links at the end of a “spoke,” you get another wheel with more filtered results. You’ll also see suggestions for links along the right side of the page.

Another great tool is found right under the Wonder Wheel link. It’s called Timeline, and it lets you search a chronological list of articles pertaining to your search words. For example, if I was interested in the development of wind power in the 1970’s, I could click on Timeline and choose the 1970’s as a time period. It would give me links to available articles about windpower that were published during that time. The graph also gives you an idea of the number of articles in each timeframe.

Timeline feature

Timeline search feature

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4 responses to “Search Strategies: Google’s Wonder Wheel and Timeline

  1. How did we ever manage to navigate life without Google? Each time they add a new feature to search, I again find myself wondering how I managed to search without it. Love the Wonder Wheel!

  2. I feel so old when I tell kids how I had to use books to do research. The 90’s seem so far away. I can’t wait to play with the Wonder Wheel and share it with my students.

  3. I can’t wait to try this out and pass it along to my teachers!! Thanks!

  4. I love wonder wheel! I was walking around the classroom today while the 8th graders were working on their project, and I heard the following:

    Student one (in response to another student’s request for information): “Just Google it.”

    Student two: “Dude, that’s not the way to research something!”

    Student three: “Yeah, use wonder wheel!”

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