Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Instruction Ideas and Activities: Keywords

For RIO Librarians to share ideas

January Berry NOT Halle Berry - Caroline @DePauw

This lesson took place during a 50-minute session with first-year program students in select classes.
The focus was keywords, and a connection was made with a current campus speaker.  Using a reference to picture, students were asked to type "January berry" in a Google Image search, since these were the keywords recalled from mention of a picture in the speech.   In addition to the picture being in the results, pictures of Halle Berry and January Jones (with berry lips) are included.  This served as a good example for keyword searching and the use of AND, OR, NOT...  (not Halle Berry not a dish of berries).

Shared Google Sheet -- Tonya @ Grace

Have students log into a shared Google Sheet (spreadsheet) and answer a set of open ended questions about a specific research question.  What words would you use?  What alternative words would work?  etc.  Use Google Sheet to spur conversation about developing search terms in research.

The Fruit Market -- Eric @ Goshen

fruit stall by Ross Parker, 2006 (CC BY-NC 2.0)

At the beginning of many first year courses I show this picture on the screen and ask the following questions:

  • What do you see in the picture?
  • Please be more specific than ‘fruit’
  • What other things do you see?
  • In the background is a large store?  Where it is?
  • Provide an example of fruit which is also technology. (Apple, Blackberry)

From the activity I pull out the following questions:

  • What are the key terms?
  • What alternative words could you use?
  • What more specific terms could you use?
  • What related or broader subjects can you suggest?

Reference: Edwards, A. and Hill, V. (2012) Games used in teaching information literacy skills. Available from [accessed 10/8/2014].

Topic Worksheet - University of South Florida

Great worksheet on selecting keywords to research a topic:

Synonym Race - Denise Fritsch, ILF Conference Presentation

Goal is to get students thinking about alternative keywords for searching. In groups, students are given a keyword related to a sample topic. Groups have 2 minutes to brainstorm synonyms or use online tools to create the longest list. After sharing results and methods with the class, a winning group is declared.

Librarian Info

Information Fluency Coordinators's picture
Information Fluency Coordinators
Ruth Szpunar and Eric Bradley coordinate PALNI collaboration and communication on Reference, Instruction, and Outreach activities and develop best practices. They also assist libraries in providing support, services, and product information for learning, teaching, and research, as well as ways to assess and demonstrate that impact. Eric Bradley is the Head of Research & Instruction for Goshen College's Good Library. Both Ruth and Eric are co-founders of Aestiva Solutions.
Subjects:Events, RIO

Copyright Notice

PALNI's Instruction Activities LibGuide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. PALNI’s logos and branding template are not covered by this license, and all rights to such material are reserved.

Creative Commons License