Infotopia, Academic Index, Alphamarks and Infotopia are websites related to the Virtual Learning Resources Center, all designed and maintained by Dr. Michael Bell, former chair, Texas Association of School Librarians
Virtual Learning Resources Center Search Tips*
Click here to return to the VLRC home page
Alphamarks are the academic bookmarks of, a search engine for selected information and reference sites: Subject Catalogs, Encyclopedias, Journalism, Reference, News, Quotations, Language, Linguistics, English French, German, American literature, Literary criticism, English literature
The Virtual LRC and related websites are now all searched using a form of a Google Custom Search Engine. This means that almost all of the search strategies employed with Google will work for Virtual LRC. The major difference is that while Google searches the entire Internet, the Virtual Learning Resources Center and related websites search only a much smaller number of academic websites previously recommended by teachers, librarians and library and educational consortia.
MagBot is a full-text magazine reference and research site offering free hot-topic (social issues) magazine and journal articles for students and teachers.
Basic Facts :
Search is always case insensitive. A search for Endangered Animals is the same as a search for endangered animals. Generally, punctuation is ignored, including @#$%^&*()=+[]\ and other special characters.
Infotrek is Google alternative search engine designed specifically for high school students.
In Infotrek, just click on the general topic that interests you. Then, scroll through the list of related terms. Click on the term that you are selecting and it will be put into the search box. Click the magnifying glass in the search box and your search will be completed.
Academic Index is an academic, college level search engine for selected information and reference sites: art, social sciences,social issues,social problems, history, biography, magazines, newspapers,encyclopedias, physics, chemistry, biology, lesson plans, and dictionaries.
Excluding terms (-) :
Put a minus sign - directly before any term you want to exclude from your search. A search for endangered animals -birds will find all sorts of endangered animals, but not birds.
Infotopia is student safe, kid friendly search engine for selected information and reference sites: art, social sciences, social issues, social problems, history, biography, magazines, newspapers, encyclopedias, physics, chemistry, biology, lesson plans, and dictionaries.  Infotopia is used in many elementary, middle, and high schools.
The OR operator :
Google's default behavior is to consider all the words in a search. If you want to specifically allow either one of several words, you can use the OR operator (note that you have to type 'OR' in ALL CAPS). For example, San Francisco Giants 2004 OR 2005 will give you results about either one of these years, whereas San Francisco Giants 2004 2005 (without the OR) will show pages that include both years on the same page.
TeacherTopia is designed to provide resources, lesson plans, and more for K-12 teachers.
Using Parentheses ( ) to Nest Terms :
If you are not sure about which terms to use, you can use parentheses ( ) and the OR operator to suggest synonyms for Google to consider. For example endangered (animals OR species). This search will produce considerably more hits than , say, endangered animals alone. (9,790,000 hits versus 2,600,000 hits)
*Most of these tips were taken almost word for word from Google's support pages. For some more advanced search tips, click here or here.