An Internet Primer for Teachers


Learning how to search the World Wide Web effectively is an essential skill for students. The Headbone Derbies offer a structured process for students to develop and master searching skills. Each time you click the Search button as you play, you are directing Yahoo!, an automated Web Search Software program (also known as a search engine), to scan the Internet and find information you are looking for.

The pages that follow provide information on the basics of searching. This includes strategies for better searching and instructions on interpreting and improving the results of the search, as well as useful techniques for refining your search.


When you go to our Search page and type the name of something you're looking for on the Web (this is called a search command), Yahoo! Searches all the Web sites in its database, including a targeted search of all the high-quality sites. It also searches newsgroups (sites on the Internet where individuals and groups focus on specific topics/subjects).

Yahoo! Finds pages containing the exact words you typed, but also looks for ideas closely linked to the words in your query. For example, if you typed "the financial concerns of elderly people," Yahoo! will find sites with those exact words, as well as those mentioning "financial" and "elderly".


Be specific.
Yahoo! is easy to use because it has been designed to understand plain English. Tell it exactly what you are looking for, just as you might ask a librarian. The more descriptive you can be, the better. The box will hold as many words as you'd like to use. Searching for "dinosaurs" will yield many thousands of hits, while searching for "Utahraptors of the Jurassic period" will yield far fewer. Experiment.

Bookmark your favorite sites!
Once you identify a site (or more likely sites) that offers promising information, save it. Netscape Navigator has a "Bookmark" option on the menu bar. Click on bookmark and a menu will appear. Click on add bookmark and, voila! The Web site is now saved in the Bookmark section. Internet Explorer has an "add to favorites" command on the menu bar that works the same way. Use these freely! By bookmaking sites, you can easily refer to them without having to search again or write down the (URL) addresses.

Remember, the better search skills you have, the better you can help your students navigate the research process.


Search Engines list results in order of relevant words that are specific to your topic. For each search you request, Yahoo! will list the results in groups of ten in decreasing order of importance or relevance to your topic. For instance, if you search for, say, "Elves of the North Pole," Yahoo! may find 342 sites which have some connection to your search.
Every once in a while you will find that your browser will not allow you to access a particular site. You may get one of the following messages:

-DNS Lookup Failed. This means the browser could not find the Web site address (URL) or the Web site is no longer listed. (Check the URL address to make sure you have the correct address.)
-File Not Found. The page may no longer exist or it may have moved without leaving a forwarding Web site address (URL).
-Server Error or Server Busy Error, Try Again Later. The computer you are trying to connect to may not be on; it may have crashed or may be busy with traffic. Try again later.


If the result of your search does not provide the kind of information/ documents you are looking for, you can try a few things to improve the results:

1. Try alternate spellings of words (e.g. CD-ROM OR CDROM)

2. Add more descriptive words if the results are too broad.

3. Try different key words. For example, if you tried "hobbies", you might try something different (e.g. games) or more specific (e.g. backgammon strategies).

4. If you are looking for proper names (e.g. John Wayne or Apple Computer), remember to capitalize the first letter of each word. Yahoo! will find only pages that contain the proper name.


As you integrate student access onto the World Wide Web into your classroom, you will be confronted with a variety of issues that face all educators interested in Internet access. Currently, there is no "v-chip" or ratings guide for the Internet (though there may be soon), and students can access objectionable material if allowed unsupervised or unstructured access. There are, however, lots of valuable resources (articles, Web sites for teachers and parents, software, and Internet service providers) that can help you to keep current on the latest news and developments, better understand the issues, and determine the most effective ways of dealing with them.

Your school and/or district already may have adopted (or may be in the process of adopting) an Acceptable Use Policy for students. We encourage you to research who is doing what with Acceptable Use Policy and also to consider what will constitute acceptable use in your classroom.

Here are a few considerations for Acceptable Use Policy:

1. Technology Approach: A number of companies have developed filtering software that can be installed/applied on individual workstations. One such product is made by Net Nanny. Net Nanny ( has both monitoring and filtering capabilities. There are also Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who offer filtration services. Ask your technology resource folks about them.

2. Educational Approach: Just as we teach our children not to take candy from stranger's, so we can guide them with rules and boundaries for exercising good judgment and restraint when they explore the Internet.

3. Policy Approach: There are many examples of schools, districts, and classrooms establishing an Acceptable Use Policy that clearly defines appropriate use of the computer and the Internet, and spells out consequences for infractions.

Once your policy has been established, it might be appropriate for you to send letters home with your students providing details of student on-line access, the educational value (learning objectives), and an explanation of your policy.

It will also be helpful if you, your school and/or district can schedule opportunities for "tech labs." These can provide computer orientation and training and would be a valuable library service of benefit to students, teachers, administrators, and parents.