Literacy ShopTalk

"Prepare self-directed learners to think critically about the messages received and created by media.”

Is It “Google-able?”

Written By: Paula Neidlinger - Sep• 13•13





The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.  ~Alvin Toffler




After an extended holiday weekend, I returned to school on Tuesday contemplating the “why” of classroom instruction. Last week, our Superintendent of Schools delivered a short speech to all staff about the “why” in our classroom. Like a ton or bricks, I realized I’d been wasting precious inquiry time lecturing content that I know, rather than using class time to collaborate and debate around the questions that are non-Google-able, the rich higher order thinking that extends beyond the textbook!

I set out to learn, unlearn, and relearn……

How do I incorporate higher order thinking and inquiry in language arts class, when there is so much curriculum content that can be Googled? I began class Tuesday with the word “Google-able” posted at the front of the class, as the “Word of the Day.” Naturally, students wanted to Google the word Google-able. We immediately took our notion of Google-able vs non-Google-able to the test. Groups collaborated and generated questions- both which could be easily Googled and those that couldn’t. Conversation erupted as to what constituted a non-Google-able question. Students began focusing on purposeful questions that extended their own thinking around ideas that they were curious about- hence, curiosity abounded.

*Class Process-

  • Students collaborated and generated both Google-able and non-Google-able questions.
  • Students posted their questions onto a virtual wall (Padlet), under two headings: Google-able and non-Google-able.
  • Students debated and discussed, as each collaborative group presented their “stellar” non-Google-able question.
  • Student Google Experts were summoned to the front of the class- their task was to Google the non-Google-able questions submitted from collaborative groups- …..Were the questions truly non-Google-able?
  • *Next Step- learn, unlearn and relearn…..


  • Foster exploration of the rich non-Google-able questions as a foundation of curiosity.
  • Construct a non-Google-able thinking space in the classroom that promotes curiosity titled- “The Guts of Learning.”
  • Facilitate the notion that our “thinking space” should be messy and jumbled to reflect the breadth of ideas and curiosity.
  • Encourage students to utilize the space to publish their ideas, early work and provoke discussion.
  • Translate the digital into physical- post screenshots of videos and images depicting exploratory thoughts and ideas.
  • Promote an authentic literacy challenge through continued discovery and curiosity.

How are you facilitating curiosity in your classroom? Share your ideas!

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