Mechanics of effective searching
A curriculum for critical thinking and web research
This plan is part of a
Skill level: Intermediate critical thinking and web
School level: Middle school (11–13 years old) research curriculum
High school (14–18 years old) developed by the International
Society for Technology in Education
(ISTE) and Microsoft.
Prerequisite skills needed www.microsoft.com/ education/criticalthinking
Students need to have the skills necessary to conduct a
search using the Bing™ search engine and to identify sites
appropriate for their research topic.
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 refine their searching skills to conduct a focused search based on guiding questions
Rationale for lesson
After students have become proficient in conducting accurate searches to locate specific
information, they need to develop the skills to narrow their searches, including the ability
to develop questions and to translate those questions into search queries. The queries
can guide them to the more specific information they are seeking. If the students are
able to successfully complete the following prerequisites, they are ready to refine their
♦ The students are able to locate the topic for which they are searching.
♦ The students are able to locate at least five high-quality resources on a given subject.
♦ The students are able to identify and ignore irrelevant information in their search.
Essential concepts / questions
Essential questions for teachers:
♦ How can I support students in developing questions to guide their research?
♦ How can I support students’ web-based searching to effectively and efficiently find
answers to their questions?
Essential question for students:
♦ How do I use the Bing search engine to locate answers to questions about a specific
National Educational Technology Standards (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.
Teacher preparation (continued)
♦ Teachers should consider developing a graphic organizer or criteria for students’ note
◊ For examples, 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
♦ To demonstrate for students how to use Bing to locate information related to their
research topic, teachers should conduct their own search using Bing, based on their
guiding questions or topics.
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. After completing the beginner lesson (or from
the “Rationale” section of this lesson plan), teachers should have identified students who
may require individual assistance during the Intermediate lesson.
Teachers should demonstrate how they use questions to further guide their research. In
conducting searches, teachers should use quotation marks and plus signs to narrow
searches, based on the guiding questions for their research. Teachers should also
demonstrate how to take notes for research. “Searching – Student worksheet 2: Graphic
organizer” may be used for this purpose.
See supplementary material, “Searching – Teacher demo – Intermediate: Mechanics of
Student activities / guidance
Students use “Searching – Student worksheet 1: Results of your search” as a reference for the
sites they located in their initial searches. Using the questions they developed (or the
teacher’s questions), students narrow their searches to address specific aspects of their
topics. For this lesson, students should use a graphic organizer or other document to record
how they conducted their searches and which sites they visited. They can also take notes as
they locate information related to the questions they are researching. “Searching – Student
worksheet 2: Graphic organizer” is a helpful example.
♦ Completed handout: “Searching – Student worksheet 2: Graphic organizer.”
♦ Students reflect on their own searches and answer the essential question:
◊ How do I use Bing search engine to locate answers to questions about a specific
research topic? Teachers may have students record their responses as an “exit
ticket” or other document that provides evidence of each student’s knowledge of
using the Bing search engine.
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
♦ Office OneNote
♦ Windows Live SkyDrive
♦ See the “Validity” lesson plan for ideas and guidelines.
♦ See the “Citing web sources” lesson plan for ideas and guidelines.