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Lesson Plan: Lost Cities of the South


As students become adults, they will be getting more and more information crucial for daily living from the Internet. It is important that students learn, practice, and maintain productive and efficient Internet searching skills. This lesson is devised to help students practice their Internet searching skills and is based on the PBS program "Wonders of the African World."

Lesson Objectives

  • Students will use their Internet searching skills to find information about South Africa and Zimbabwe.
  • Student will understand the differences between different search engines.
  • Students will narrow their searches to find more specific information.
  • Students will use search engines to find given information.
  • Students will practice basic Internet browser navigation to find information.

List of materials

Estimated Time

Two class periods

Relevant National Standards:

Mid-Continent Regional Education Laboratory

   World History

  • Understands the economic, political, and cultural interrelations among peoples of Africa, Europe, and the Americas between 1500 and 1750.

National Educational Technology

  • Students are proficient in the use of technology.
  • Students develop positive attitudes toward technology uses that support lifelong learning, collaboration, personal pursuits, and productivity.
  • Students use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity.
  • Students use productivity tools to collaborate in constructing technology-enhanced models, preparing publications, and producing other creative works.
  • Students use telecommunications to collaborate, publish, and interact with peers, experts, and other audiences.
  • Students use a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences.
  • Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.
  • Students use technology tools to process data and report results.
  • Students evaluate and select new information resources and technological innovations based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.
  • Students use technology resources for solving problems and making informed decisions.
  • Students employ technology in the development of strategies for solving problems in the real world.

Teaching Strategy

  1. View videotape. Have students write down one or two questions they may have about the program. Explain that they will be using the Internet to find the answers to those questions and others.

  2. Define the word "search engine."
    A search engine uses software (often called robots or spiders) to help scan documents on the Internet for key topics or words. It indexes those words in a database. When a user of the search engine enters the key words, the URLs (uniform resource locators or address) of the pages with those words, appear on the screen as links.
  3. Describe the different types of search engines and the different methods of searching.

    Question-based searching: Type in a question, as if you were asking somebody to answer it. Good search engines for questions are - (or for short), AskJeeves for Kids (

    Narrowing your search: Enter the broad category, the search engine will gather all information in that category, then narrow the search by typing in more specific words in that category and by clicking on the radio button that says "Narrow your search." It will search the broad category for the information just entered. This will allow further narrowing of the topic if needed. Entering words that are unique to that subject will also help narrow your search. A good search engine for this strategy is

    Keyword searching: Go to the search engine and type in the keyword. When multiple words are typed in, search engines generally find one word (minimum) in the document. It will helpful to learn the rules of Boolean logic, which govern the way search engines employ the words you enter to find results. Most search sites explain Boolean logic in a "help" or "search tips" section. Common Boolean operators are "AND," "OR," "NOT," quotation marks and parentheses. Using "AND" or (+) between words will force the search engine to find entries with all the words listed in the document. A minus sign (-) or NOT will exclude any document containing that word. The word OR will search for sites that include one word but not necessarily the others you listed. One can also place quotation marks around a group of words to force the engine to search for an exact phrase. Parentheses can be used in a similar way that they are used in mathematical equations. All of these operators can be combined in order to produce more narrow and effective search results.

    Meta-Search Engines: There are also search engines that search multiple search engines, just with one keyword entry. Some popular meta-search engines are and
  4. Students may also have favorite search engines. Brainstorm a list of search engines and record them on the board for easy student access.
    Remind students that going to a known search engine like and typing in the keywords "search+engines" will give students immediate links to other search engines on the Internet.

  5. Hand out the scavenger hunt sheet. Read through questions orally so students understand them and can look for other answers to the hunt as they proceed. Also have them write down the additional question they brainstormed after watching the videotape. Remind students that they will have another class period to hunt for the answers. Have students not only record the answer, but the site on which they found the information. You may also want to have the students keep a running log of the sites they visited and the searching techniques they used in finding their answers. Encourage students to collaborate to find the best searching techniques. Searching skills get better with practice!

    Your answer key has the sites where the answers for the hunt can be found. Please note that there are also other sites out there on the Internet that have the same information. If needed, or for elementary grade students, you could share those sites with students and have them read the pages for the given information.

  6. At the end of the lesson, discuss the answers and compare different searching techniques. A class discussion could also help give some more searching strategies to fellow classmates.

Assessment Recommendations

At the end of the searching period, go through the questions and have students compare their answers with the class. Discuss searching techniques and what method they found to be most useful to them. You may choose to grade on how many responses were correct, or how well students collaborated on the project. Having students reflect back on the activity is also a good way to find out what students learned about Africa and also about searching.


  • During their search, students could copy pictures from the pages they've visited and take notes on what the picture is about. After the scavenger hunt, they could put the pictures into a multimedia presentation such as PowerPoint or HyperStudio as a culmination to the activity.

  • This videotape segment could also be used in other subject areas. Teachers may develop their own questions, which emphasize other concepts, like popular music of South Africa, common animals of Zimbabwe, or political figures and revolutionaries associated with South African apartheid.

Other online scavenger hunts:




Black Kingdoms of the Nile
The Swahili Coast
Slave Kingdoms
The Holy Land
Road to Timbuktu
Lost Cities of the South