Mechanics of effective searching
A curriculum for critical thinking and web research
Skill level: Beginner
This plan is part of a
School level: Middle school (11–13 years old) critical thinking and web
High school (14–18 years old) research curriculum
developed by the International
Prerequisite skills needed Society for Technology in Education
(ISTE) and Microsoft.
Students need to have basic computer use skills, such as the www.microsoft.com/ education/criticalthinking
ability to launch Internet Explorer®, type a web address, type
into search boxes, and navigate the Internet.
Description of plan
Teachers develop a project within their content area aligned to their state/district standards
that requires students to conduct web-based research using the Bing™ search engine.
Students develop beginning skills for conducting an effective and efficient search of web-
Rationale for lesson
Students who are just beginning the research process may require additional support to
maximize their time and efficiency while searching for resources. Many content area
teachers feel that students’ time could be used more effectively when they search the
Internet. Students often have difficulties locating the information they need and sorting
through the masses of information (both relevant and irrelevant) on the Internet, in
addition to staying focused on the assignment.
Essential concepts / questions
Essential questions for teachers:
♦ How can I support students in searching the Internet more efficiently and effectively?
♦ How can I support students in locating the specific sites needed to help them in their
overall research process?
♦ How do I direct students to sites more quickly and accurately?
Essential question for students:
♦ How can I effectively use the Bing search engine to conduct research on a
National Educational Technology Standard (NETS)
♦ 4A: Advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and
technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate
documentation of sources.
♦ 3B: Locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from
a variety of sources and media.
♦ Teachers should familiarize themselves with the Bing (http://www.bing.com) search
♦ Teachers should work with the lab coordinator or media specialist to determine lab
logistics, level of access per student, and seating arrangements.
♦ Teachers need to develop clear criteria for the project, including guiding questions to
be addressed by students’ research, and a project scoring rubric, including criteria for
use of technology (for example, the number of resources and images required, or how
to cite sources).
◊ Please see the “Citing web sources” lesson plan for ideas.
♦ If students are working in cooperative groups, teachers should develop specific roles
and responsibilities that provide for individual and group accountability.
♦ Teachers should consider developing a graphic organizer or criteria for students’
◊ For example, see “Searching – Student worksheet 2: Graphic organizer.”
♦ Microsoft Office OneNote® provides the ability to track research and web sites as
students take notes. See the “Related resources and tutorials” section of this
Teachers must consider student arrangement in labs; if students are to locate media files,
where those files will be stored; and how much time will be allotted. Teachers should
determine where students will store their work (possibilities include folders on the school
server or on Windows Live™ SkyDrive™). To reduce off-task behavior, teachers should
develop criteria to guide students’ searches.
Before having students conduct a web search, teachers should demonstrate how to use the
Bing search engine to research a topic. Teachers should model the steps for conducting
effective searches, as detailed in “Searching – Student handout: Internet address endings.”
See supplementary material, “Searching – Teacher demo – Beginner: Mechanics of
Student activities / guidance
Students begin their search based on the broad topic of their project, similar to the teacher’s
demonstration. Using “Searching – Student worksheet 1: Results of your search,” students
follow the prompts and record the number of sites provided by the search.
♦ Completed worksheet: “Searching – Student worksheet 1: Results of your search.”
♦ Students reflect on their own searches and answer the essential question:
◊ How can I effectively use the Bing search engine to conduct research on a
Related resources and tutorials
♦ Effective searching tips
♦ Bing User Guide: How to use Bing
♦ Information about the Bing search engine home page
♦ Bing Visual Search
♦ 50 fantastic Bing tricks