I’ve said it before and I’m sure that I will say it again . . . I love Google. I know that the Google engineers are not creating cool tools just for me but some days, it sure feels that way.

Over the last week or so, I’ve been putting together some middle school history best practice workshops and was focused on using tools like Inspiration and other online tools to help kids manage information.

You know . . . basic data collection and organization. Putting stuff into tables and charts for first level kinds of thinking so that teachers and kids can better prepare for 3rd story kinds of cognitive activity.

Somehow I ended up over at Google Labs and began to investigate a search tool called Google Squared. Here’s what the Google geeks have to say about their creation:

Fetch and organize facts from across the web. Google Squared automatically constructs a table of facts about any category you specify.

Yeah . . . so?

Suppose you want to collect and organize data on all of the Civil War battles. In the “old” days (pre-internet), you went to World Book, found a list of battles, look them up individually, wrote down the basic info, drew a chart with pencil and enter the data into your chart. It took forever. (and often served as the actual assessment of learning!)

In the “new” old days (post-internet), you did a Google search, found your list, then cut and pasted your data into a spreadsheet or graphic organizer program. (and still . . . many times, served as the actual assessment of learning.)

Now . . . you simply go to Google Squared, enter “civil war battles” and Google Squared collects all of the data and puts it into a chart for you.

google squared

How about US Presidents? European countries? US states? American inventors? Geographic regions? Economic systems? World religions? Google Squared does it all.

You can save your squares, delete squares, edit squares, highlight squares for source info and add extra squares and/or columns. You can also start with your own blank squares and enter specific keywords into each square. Too awesome!

It’s not perfect yet but what a great way to find and organize basic information and not waste a bunch of time just gathering data. Have your kids use Google Squared, attach some great questions about that data and you’re off! Now . . . instead of the data collection serving as assessment of learning, you can actually spend time on high level stuff.

I love those Google guys!