Microsoft’s ‘Bing in the Classroom’ comes to HISD

A kindergarten class is studying about butterflies and can share the dramatic migratory adventure of the Monarch butterfly through the eyes of children in a classroom in Mexico. That is what Sylvia Huerta, a kindergarten teacher at Memorial Elementary School, is hoping to do through the technology introduced at her school by Microsoft.

Microsoft’s Bing in the Classroom initiative offers the transformative power of technology to schools with ad-free search, Surface laptop-tablets for classrooms, and digital literacy lessons. Through hands-on training at the school, Memorial ES teachers learn how to navigate the technology.

”You get a very safe, ad-free, protected environment with lesson plans, said Microsoft representative Patrick Wolf.

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Bing in the Classroom does not use search data to send personalized ads, so teachers see better and more relevant search results, Wolf explained. The program offers a variety of resources to help educators teach digital literacy skills, and the lesson can go beyond the classroom.

While Microsoft representatives trained teachers at Memorial ES how to incorporate the search engine Bing in the Classroom, they also showed them how Skype in the Classroom can work into their lesson plans.

“A lot of our teachers are wanting to use Skype more in their classrooms so that they can connect with parents, they can connect with all kinds of occupations, they can connect with all parts of the world,” said Mechiel Rozas, Memorial Elementary principal.

Skype in the Classroom has a directory of experts from around the world who can talk to students about their field. Teachers can also connect with another classroom.

“I have an idea of Skype-ing with another class in Mexico,” explained kindergarten teacher Sylvia Huerta, “so that the students can follow the progress of the Monarch butterflies as they migrate from Texas to Mexico. And because this is a dual language class, I was hoping that my non-Spanish speaking students would be able to understand a little bit more.”

“Every time we add a tool that is so open-ended, we really open a new part of the world to our students so that they can really explore and expand and deepen their understanding,” said Rozas.

Memorial and Park Place elementary schools are two of 10 schools in the nation that are participating in the Bing in the Classroom program.