When I was approached about working in administration at the one and only technology magnet school here in Springfield, IL I wasn't even the least bit skeptical. I had already written my own blog online for a few years and was intensely interested in social media and the connections it brings personally not to mention connecting with classrooms all over the world.
It sure does make those pen pals we kept in my elementary school seem old-fashioned, but only because of the primitive nature. Not because of the connections you can make with someone halfway across the world. That's where the power of the internet for students really shines.
My school uses technology by providing each student with a laptop for the 3 years they attend grades 6-8 and students are required to learn all the applications and apply them in the classroom for student projects. The teachers use Challenge Based Learning techniques to enhace the educational experience in the classroom where students can, instead of say a book report, turn in a QR code for a book trailer they made themselves using video.
I swear, I watch what my students can do and I am supremely jealous of how they get to show competency for their learning.
Here's where something like Bing in the Classroom comes in handy: if your school uses computers (or tablets, as many do) for student learning they can try Bing, a free resource from Microsoft, for when students do research. I can't tell you the number of times my students have looked something up on the internet only to be bombarded with inappapropriate images or article links.
Bing in the Classroom uses ad-free searches and filters out adult content as well as protects user privacy.
If you watch the short video above, you'll see how they have even created a tailor-made Bing home page for teachers that features daily images with hot spots so students can learn at their own pace about the world prior to the classroom lessons (or even tied in with them!).
There are 1500+ lesson plans developed by accredited K-12 teachers available on the Bing in the Classroom website which downloadable resources for teachers.
Considering the amount of time my teachers have taken to ensure that students doing online searches don't get bombarded with school-inappropriate content (yo, the Internet is big, y'all, and we haven't even reached the end of it yet) having an ad-free search engine makes my job easier.
Have I ever told you about the student who found something online and shared it with me and I had to explain it? No? That's because it happens a lot and I am not even going to tell you the innocent searches they do that yield disastrous results. (But, if you take me out to dinner I am sure to tell you in person.)
If you are a teacher, Bing in the Classroom is worth looking into for your students. Another great link for teachers is the Microsoft Education Community that offers access to training, online adventures, and connection to the 1.5 million educators around the world using it.
Right now, our 6th grade writing students are working on an amazing project their teachers created to encourage Teen Activism and doing a safe-search on Bing could be just the thing they need as they do their research and what we call their "free-search" as they learn to decipher good sites v bad sites with little to no information. They're also learning to spot bias in websites or news sources and they use critical thinking skills as guided by their teachers.
Give Bing in the Classroom a try. As far as I'm concerned, this is administrator approved.