Tag Archives: bing in the classroom

Microsoft expands computer science education, partnership with Salesforce and your mind with Hacking Mars design challenge — Weekend Reading, Sept. 18 edition

TEALS, education, computer science, YouthSpark

High school juniors and seniors in TEALS classes at the public Boston Latin Academy last year took this photo to thank their TEALS volunteers for the computer science education instruction they provided.

The universe expanded in new ways, yet got more personal, this week at Microsoft. For one thing, CEO Satya Nadella announced a new commitment of $75 million to help young people around the world study computer science. Also announced: Microsoft’s strategic partnership with Salesforce will grow. And if you’re ready to help “The Martian’s” stranded astronaut Mark Watney get off the Red Planet, the Hacking Mars design challenge is your opportunity to come up with a solution.

Microsoft’s YouthSpark program will grow mightily over the next three years to increase access to computer science education for young people everywhere, especially those from under-represented backgrounds. In the U.S., where the TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) program brings computer science education to both high school students and teachers, this flagship program of YouthSpark will spread from 131 schools in 18 states to nearly 700 schools in 33 states. Right now, computer science is offered in less than 25 percent of American high schools. Brad Smith, Microsoft president and chief legal officer, says Microsoft’s goal over the next decade is to reach 4,000 high schools.

Microsoft and Salesforce are strengthening their strategic partnership, which began last fall, to connect the Salesforce Customer Success Platform to Microsoft Office productivity apps and services. New solutions that integrate Salesforce with Skype for Business, OneNote, Delve and Windows 10 will empower companies to connect with their customers and collaborate more effectively. Nadella talked about the partnership and Microsoft’s mission at Dreamforce 2015 in San Francisco.

Salesforce, Power BI, business intelligence

Microsoft Power BI and the Salesforce content pack for Power BI.

No astronaut left behind: Enter the Hacking Mars design challenge. In the movie “The Martian,” coming Oct. 2, astronaut Mark Watney is trying to figure out how to get home from Mars after being left on the Red Planet, presumed dead by his crew. Gather up a team and enter the Microsoft Hacking Mars design challenge to come up with solutions to help Watney. You can also track his progress with a new interactive map from Bing. And teachers and students across the country will be able to download space-related curriculum through Bing in the Classroom.

The Super Bowl is going for the 50, and the NFL is using Surface to get there. The NFL is starting its countdown to a major milestone with Super Bowl 50 with some new Surface Pro 3s. The league provides the specially equipped devices, which include the Sideline Viewing System introduced last season, to all 32 teams. The Microsoft app lets coaches analyze full-color images from a previous offensive or defensive series, and plan their next plays more quickly. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson told writer Athima Chansanchai that Surface has been “a game changer” for him. “The Surface has been exceptional to have on the sideline. When I get back to the sideline, I’m able to get the plays right away. Being able to zoom has a huge advantage, too. I can see everybody’s eyes, what they’re looking at.”

You can see everybody’s eyes and more with the official WWE Network app for Windows 10, our App of the Week. The free app lets WWE Network subscribers see all 12 WWE live pay-per-view events, including WrestleMania, groundbreaking original series, reality shows and documentaries. Want to catch up on the best of “Raw” and “Smackdown” replays? It’s there for you. Get the WWE Network app this weekend, and watch the WWE “Night of Champions” Sept. 20.

Windows, apps, Windows 10

The second annual Old Glory Relay, conducted by Team Red, White, and Blue and presented by Microsoft to benefit veterans, kicked off at sunrise on Sept. 11 in San Francisco. Fifty-nine teams of runners are on their way across country, with the 60-day, 3,540-mile journey expected to end at sunset on Nov. 8 in Washington, D.C. You can follow the runners’ travels and experiences by visiting the Microsoft Military Affairs blog.

military affairs, veterans, Old Glory Relay

This week we watched as Frederico Phillips and Maria Takeuchi redefined dance. Using Kinect for Windows, the two artists merge technology and dance as we’ve never seen before.

Wherever your journeys take you this weekend, near or far, enjoy! And join us again next Friday for Weekend Reading.

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff

Weekend Reading: Aug. 29th Edition – Surface Pro 3 now in 28 markets and Royal Caribbean provides 40,000 crew members with Windows tablets

This week, we’ve got stories on Surface Pro 3’s increased availability worldwide, Royal Caribbean Cruises going more high-tech by giving its crew Windows 8.1 tablets, and Bing in the Classroom’s lesson plans are back for a second school year.

Surface Pro 3 is now available in 25 additional markets around the world, bringing the total to 28 markets, including the United States, Canada and Japan. The 25 new markets are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Kingdom. The Surface Pro 3 Docking Station is available for pre-order, and will be generally available starting Sept. 12.


Windows 8.1 tablets are headed into the hands of Royal Caribbean’s 40,000 crew members, with those on the line’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, to be the first to get the 8-inch tablets built by HEXA for the cruise line. The tablets will include services such as Bing, Skype, Office 365 and OneDrive, and will provide a vital lifeline for ship staff to stay in touch with family members. Guests aboard the Quantum of the Seas will also be able to play games with friends around the world using Xbox One consoles, available for the first time on Royal Caribbean’s ships through Xbox Live and the ship’s unprecedented connectivity.

Royal Caribbean gives its crew members 40,000 Windows 8.1 tablets

As kids head back to school, Bing in the Classroom will be there, too. Since last fall, the program has published nearly 800 lessons plans that are paired with Bing’s stunning home page photos. When used with Bing in the Classroom’s ad-free search offering, the lesson plans enable students to practice critical thinking and search skills in an ad-free, safer and more private online environment.

A Siberian tiger takes a swim at the Antwerp Zoo in Belgium (© Hans Kuczka/Aurora Photos)

A Siberian tiger takes a swim at the Antwerp Zoo in Belgium (© Hans Kuczka/Aurora Photos)

Just in time for football season, “Madden NFL 15” was released, along with a special bundle for Xbox One. For $399, you can get both the game and the Xbox One console, including wireless controller and a chat headset, with the bundle available at Microsoft retail stores and other select U.S. retailers. You also won’t want to miss the special events at Microsoft retail stores tied to the release of “Madden NFL 15,” as well as to “Destiny,” Bungie’s much-anticipated first-person shooter that will be out Sept. 9. Hands-on gameplay, prizes and free food are all part of the in-store celebrations.

Madden NFL 15, Weekend Reading

The Kinect sensor for Xbox One will become available as a standalone purchase starting Oct. 7. It will cost $149.99, and also come with “Dance Central Spotlight,” from developer Harmonix. The Kinect experience includes voice and gesture controls, biometric sign-in, instant personalization, instant scanning of QR codes and enhanced features only available with Kinect in games such as “Kinect Sports Rivals,” “Dead Rising 3,” “Project Spark” and more.

Kinect sensor, Xbox One, Weekend Reading

New Azure SQL Database service tiers with reduced pricing were announced for the database-as-a-service that gives customers greater price performance and business continuity for cloud apps.There also will be a new performance level, hourly billing and an enhanced service-level agreement of 99.99 percent availability. As of November, customers will see savings of up to 50 percent on previously published prices for Premium and Standard tiers.

Did you spot Spotify in the Windows Phone Store? The free app lets you choose from millions of music tracks. You can browse, listen and create playlists, and you can save and share music, as well as follow others. The revamped NFL Fantasy Football apps for Windows and Windows Phone is our App of the Week, letting you join and create leagues in just minutes, and track live scoring on the go of your fantasy matchup and favorite players, with in-game video highlights available as soon as they happen on the field. You don’t want to miss the limited-time FREE Disney Games sale for Windows Phones, with six games available, including “Disney Solitaire” and “Toy Story: Smash It!” There’s also the Indie Game Spotlight in the Windows Phone Store for games like “Skelly Rider,” “Manuganu 2,” “Timberman by Digital Melody” and more than 30 others. The Share to Speech app turns articles into speech or MP3 files by sharing a Web page or pasting its link. It can also convert Microsoft Word and PowerPoint documents, along with many other text files, into speech. When you install Share to Speech from the Windows Store ($4.99), it also comes with the version for Windows Phone.

Spotify for Windows Phone

Spotify app for Windows Phone.

This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we offered the ultimate back-to-school prize package. For a chance to win, tweet an #8WordEssay about this photo. Join us on our page to learn more on how to enter.

Microsoft Facbook page, 8-word essay, Weekend Reading

Hope you don’t have to labor too much – or at all – this weekend. Thanks for joining us for this edition of Weekend Reading, and we’ll see you next week!

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff


Bing lesson plans can help students with critical thinking skills, Web research

A Siberian tiger takes a swim at the Antwerp Zoo in Belgium (© Hans Kuczka/Aurora Photos)

A Siberian tiger takes a swim at the Antwerp Zoo in Belgium (© Hans Kuczka/Aurora Photos)

As Alice Keeler looked at her batch of upcoming Bing home pages, the former high school math teacher found the image of the Siberian tiger swimming through the waters of a Belgian zoo very striking. But that wasn’t all.

She started brainstorming possibilities for how to use the image to create a lesson plan; the choices of content were many and wide-ranging (and, for example, could have included having students read William Blake’s poem “The Tyger“). Such lessons, available for free every day through the Bing in the Classroom program, are paired with Bing’s home page image of the day. Keeler is one of four teachers who work on the lesson plans, which are tailored to three different age groups (elementary, middle and high school).

Bing has published nearly 800 of them since the fall of 2013. As teachers and students head back to school, these short lesson plans give them another tool they can use to increase digital literacy and Web research skills.

“We get great feedback from teachers, particularly about the use of the lessons to drive real creativity,” says Matt Wallaert, a behavioral scientist at Bing who created Bing in the Classroom, which also provides free Surface tablets and ad-free Web searches to schools. “It’s easy for search to become about take the question, copy it into the search engine, copy back the answer. And that’s not genuine. Search should be about real things you want to know in the world, and real ways of finding bits of information that can help you learn about them.”

Anyone can get to the lesson plans through the Bing home page. In the lower right corner of the home page image, you click on the “Info” tab and on the results page, you’ll see the image, a short description of the image and underneath, a link to the lesson plans.

Bing home page lesson plan link

Bing home page lesson plan link

“People really like the idea as an important way to explore questions that aren’t being presented in standardized testing,” says Wallaert, who is often on the road and presenting research on digital literacy. “It’s a form of project based learning, and students learn how to present to the class and synthesize information.”

When paired with Bing in the Classroom’s ad-free search offering, the lesson plans allow students practice these critical thinking and search skills in an ad-free, safer, more private online environment. And for schools short on devices, Bing Rewards allows community members to help earn free Surface tablets, just by searching the Web.

The lesson plans all follow the same template, presented through a PowerPoint deck. They start with a critical thinking question designed so that students can’t answer it by simply plugging it into a search box. Then the plans suggest five follow-up questions that online research that can help answer the main question.

A slide from Keeler’s high school lesson plan for the Siberian tiger

A slide from Keeler’s high school lesson plan for the Siberian tiger

For the Siberian tiger image, which published July 29, Keeler started with the question, “Does having tiger parks breed captive tigers as a source of tiger-bone medicine decrease poaching of wild tigers?”

This question can be a launching point from which high school students can find out how many Siberian tigers are in the wild and in captivity, why they’re endangered and what poachers are after.

“I like this one because it is an opportunity to highlight the plight of an endangered species,” says the Central California-based Keeler, a mother of five who taught high school math for 14 years.

Through her blog, Teacher Tech, Keeler encourages other teachers to try out the lesson plans.

Wallaert says the emphasis on multi-part questions can help students work as a team as they gather different pieces of information from multiple sources and searches.

“That’s something only a human can do to get a real answer,” Wallaert says.

There’s also a blank template teachers can use to create their own questions.

“I try to think about questions that would encourage kids to use the Internet and develop skills they might not naturally think about on their own,” says Nell Bang-Jensen, an artist who teaches at numerous theaters and schools around Philadelphia and is developing curriculum for the Philadelphia Young Playwrights. She’s in charge of the K-4 lesson plans for Bing. “We’re giving them solid resources, websites they know they can go to. Some questions, they would have to look at a map, or watch a video, so they’re learning to interpret information presented in different ways.”

Bang-Jensen says the lessons can “lead to larger conversations.” She adds, “Using questions as a way of understanding the world is important.”

For example, with the image below, of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, Bang-Jensen realized the average third-grader may have heard of the famous bard, but might have no context on his life. With her lesson plan, they can check out his basic biography, but also watch clips and find out why people talk differently in his plays.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London, England (© Alain Schroeder/age fotostock)

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London, England (© Alain Schroeder/age fotostock)

For Christy Fennewald, who was contracted for a limited span of lesson plans that tied into Microsoft’s first-ever sponsorship of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the same image inspired a lesson plan that focused on Shakespearean sonnets. She also included a search for words he created and the chance for them to make up their own poems.

For the teachers who create the plans, the lessons help continue their education, too.

“I was a history teacher, so images that point to the deeper story are what I like to pull out,” says Ja’Dell Davis, who works in New York City’s Youth Services Department at the Educational Alliance as the assistant director for Higher Education Initiatives. She handles the middle school lesson plans. “It may be a beautiful image, but it could also be fraught with uncomfortable aspects.”

For instance, when she receives images of landscapes and cities, she researches the story behind the picture, its history and the people who live there or who settled it.

Keeler remembers an image featuring Danyang County in South Korea that was particularly challenging.

“I was expecting a major historical event associated with, but I found nothing. It took a while to find they had a unique folklore tale. So then I wanted to make it a broader question about how folklore develops. That’s not something you can go do a simple search for. You have to look up folklore, find different examples and draw conclusions based on evidence.”

“It’s a fun challenge to see what lessons come in every week,” says Bang-Jensen. “It feels like a puzzle, but it’s also engaging and worthwhile.”

Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff