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  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    Any science teachers out there?

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    My fellow blogger Stuart was a science teacher, and still talks about things like chaos theory and tarantulas. Even though I taught English and French, I found this quick science resource too fun to keep to myself.

    Capture

    A colleague of mine at Microsoft sent around these short video snippets featuring a cartoon Einstein who teaches some of the basic concepts of physics. The resources described here were created by Deutsche World, the German equivalent of BBC World Service. (Don't worry - they're in English!)

    We get excited about them because they make use of Microsoft's great Silverlight system and are pretty beautiful to look at.

    But by covering topics such as E=mc2 and gravity, in about two minutes each, they provide simple explanations of difficult concepts and are the perfect introduction to a lesson. The visual stories presented by this little "Einsteinchen" are easy to understand for even the most science-phobic of students (I include myself in that group...).

     

    You can view all 12 videos by clicking here, or visiting the Quick Ideas section of the Innovative Teachers Network. We're always on the lookout for quick ideas for the classroom, and I'm sure you are, too. You can upload your own Quick Ideas using the template here.

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    Your own personal librarian

    • 2 Comments

    If you have a question about something related to your teaching, where you go to get the answer? Or, if one of your students, your head teacher, or a fellow teacher asks you a question that you don't know the answer to, what do you do about it?

    Chances are, you head to a search engine, type in the question, and are then forced to slog through a list of links, visiting multiple web sites until you may - or may not - find what you are looking for. (Or if it's your student who has asked you, you just tell them to search for the answer themselves...)

    Wouldn't it be great if there was a person you could go to for these kinds of questions? (And by person, I mean an actual, real, live person, trained in research and whose job is to help you.) Even better, what if that person was a librarian?

    Don't believe that such a thing is possible? Well, believe it! As part of our partnership with the TDA for the past three years of our Partners in Learning initiative, we've jointly developed a free web service called E-Librarian. The service exists as part of the TDA's Teacher Training Resource Bank site, located HERE.

    librarian

    The E-Librarian service is staffed by librarians sitting at the Institute of Education's Library in London. All questions asked receive an individual response and are published back onto the site so that they can be accessed by other users.

    Using this service couldn't be easier. Simply go to the site (complete a quick registration if you're a first-time user) and either search topics of previous responses, or ask your own question. (The E-Librarians recommend that you search previous responses before asking an original question of your own. Chances are, they've answered your question already!)

    Take a look at a question someone asked recently about enquiry-based learning:

    sample question

    And just part of the answer:

    response

    Just imagine how intelligent you'll look to all of your friends/colleagues when you come back to them with an answer like this! (Don't worry - your secret is safe with us.)

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    101 ideas for ICT in the classroom

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    These are a real snack fest of ideas (low on fat, but high in cool things to do in the classroom) to develop innovative ideas using technology across the curriculum. They include  ideas for art, History, D&T,Geography,Science, PE, Music, MFL, English and Maths and are suitable for Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 pupils. So there is something here for everyone. Each idea consists of a single  A4 word document, there is an example below.

    These ideas can be found on the Innovative Teachers Network under Learning resources > Quick ideas and are two zip files called 101 ideas and 101 ideas 2nd. You can also find another 101 ideas created by colleagues in Europe (they are in english), you will need to use the search facility to find this. In the search box on any page on the site type ‘101 ideas’, the file you want is called ‘101_angol_3.pdf ‘, click the corresponding URL to download the file.

    I hope you enjoy these resources and find them useful, please feel free to contribute any activities that these resources prompt you to create, to the Innovative Teachers Network. You could upload the resources to the Quick Ideas section under Learning Resources and share them with other teachers.

     

    Example 101 Ideas

    Art - Design

    Resources:

    To create movie presentations: Photostory 3

    To download information: MSN Livesearch

    Learning Objective:

    • about continuity and change in the roles, purposes and audiences of artists, craftspeople and designers
    • to discuss and question critically, and select from a range of visual and other information to help them develop ideas for independent work.
    • to record and analyse first-hand observations, and to explore ideas for different purposes and audiences
    • to organise and present this material in different ways

    Activity:

    • Show pupils examples of contemporary decorative and applied art, e.g. fashion, textiles, ceramics, furniture.
    • Talk about the influences of diverse cultures on our lives and 'lifestyle'.
    • Discuss examples of contemporary design and ask pupils to suggest where ideas might have come from. Ask pupils to research, using the Internet, about the history of certain styles.
    • Ask them to suggest how and why styles change. Talk about the idea that style in art and design is often reflected in other art forms, e.g. the connections between art deco and jazz.
    • Ask the children to create a movie timeline presentation that will demonstrate how certain factors have impacted design.

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    Extension:

    The Learners can find music that can fit in with their chosen design and use this to score their presentation timeline.

    Did You Know?

    With Photo Story 3 you can create slideshows using your digital photos. With a single click, you can touch-up, crop, or rotate pictures. It's that easy!

    Add stunning special effects, soundtracks, and your own voice narration to your photo stories. Then, personalize them with titles and captions.

    Small file sizes make it easy to send your photo stories in an e-mail. Watch them on your TV, a computer, or a Windows Mobile–based portable device.

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    More fun with digital photography

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    I know a lot of teachers who use digital cameras (still or video) with their students. Many take advantage of Microsoft's free tools, such as Photo Story and Movie Maker, so that students can use photo and video technology to help tell a story. Both Photo Story and Movie Maker are fun, useful and FREE, and later in this blog we'll be sharing ideas in this blog to inspire you to use them both with your students - if you don't use them already.

    But the digital photo situation just got a little more interesting with Photosynth. If you haven't heard of it, my colleague Ray offers a simple description in his UK Schools blog

    PhotoSynth is an amazing way of arranging photographs of a place - creating a three-dimensional model using photographs - allowing you to "walk around" places like St Mark's Square in Venice, or inside the Blackpool Tower Ballroom.

    (For a more details on how this technology actually works, check out the more techie Microsoft blog HERE.)

    At Microsoft we've been hearing about Photosynth for ages, it seems. I've seen all the cool demos by members of the Photosynth team (if you haven't, go to Ted to watch a jaw-dropping demo by Blaise Aguera). But we weren't actually able to get our hands on the technology to play with it ourselves - until last month, when we released the new features allowing anyone to be able to create their own Synths.

    If I didn't work for Microsoft, I'm not sure I'd be what you call an "early adopter" - someone who rushes out to get the latest technology as soon as it's released. But when I saw the release of Photosynth, I immediately created a profile on the site and started to go through pictures from my travels to see if I had enough to create a synth. (I didn't, but on my next trip, I will.)

    Since creating a synth allows you to give the experience of "being there" to someone who has not been there, I can think of endless possibilities for it in the classroom. Can you imagine partnering with a school in another town/county/country and having students create synths to share with each other? And even if you don't have digital cameras for your students, you can still share with them the synths created by other people or organisations such as National Geographic or the BBC. Synth

    (This synth of the Taj Mahal is one of my favourites.)

     

    We've created a community on the Innovative Teachers Network for Photosynth. This community contains the photography guide and other Photosynth materials, as well as places for you to link to your own synth or post ideas and resources you're using with your students.

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    ‘Microsoft does have some really cool stuff’

    • 1 Comments

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    Often when I am visiting schools I get asked by teachers to speak to groups of students and tell them about working at Microsoft. What they don't want to know is that I spend a lot of my time with teachers developing some really great projects – they really want to know, 'Have I met Bill Gates?' (No, is the answer) and do I get to see any “cool” stuff. Yes definately. So I have taken time to ‘collect’ some ‘really cool’ examples of things I think teachers and students could use in the classroom. And more often than not they have haven’t seen or heard of them.

    The first of these is Tafiti , an educational based search site that is built using Silverlight. So what makes it better than any other search engine? Well, it looks great, but better than that, it has the ability for students to store and share their searches. This solves a lot problems when getting students to justify their research for assignments and projects. And it provides an opportunity to teach some research skills. Check it out – I think it has to be seen to be believed. You will need to install the silverlight plug-in, just as you would for Flash for example.

    Now you have Silverlight installed, checkout Popfly. This is a mash up creator - This can support programming in ICT lessons, and there is now a game creator as well.

    My all time favourite is OneNote. I used this extensively in school - the best way to describe it is as a piece of smart paper, on which you can write, type, take image clips from anywhere, record sound and record video all on the same page. I think it makes a great whiteboard tool for teachers, but doesn’t need the whiteboard to work. The Innovative Teachers Network has details of how OneNote is being used in other schools. Check out the MSOffice and Learning styles community on the Innovative Teachers Network.

    These are just some of the resources, I used as a teacher to enhance the learning of my students. I am constantly finding new things to try, and the Innovative Teachers Network is a great place to see how other teachers are using new technology to support their teaching. Keep a look out for PLEX for Powerpoint.

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    Who are these Innovative Teachers?

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    Luckily they are all around us working away in our school and classrooms, up and down the country in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and in my job I get to meet these people and have the privilege to work with them. I would like to share with you some their work which you can freely download from the Innovative Teachers Network  (ITN).

    All of these teachers have used the ITN as means to develop their use of technology in the classroom. If you are looking to develop your use of technology then looking at the work of these teachers is an ideal place to start. 

    You can find their work on the Innovative Teachers Network, Once you have signed in, click the Learning Resources Tab and select Virtual classroom Tours, you can then scroll down the list to find them.

    *If you are accessing the Innovative Teachers Network for the first time you will need to register, this is completely free and will you give access to huge variety of resources and information.

    Name School VCT title Comment
    Julie Millward Bowring Community Sport College Shiverpool To help raise the achievement of students’ literacy, taking them away from traditional English lessons, and encouraging them to learn in different ways studying the ghost of Liverpool
    Alison Tiltman   Bathtime Business

    Pupils learn how bath bombs work in order to create their own design. They will then create their own virtual business  as an ‘Apprentice’ type of competition where pupils will be ‘hired’ if they win.

    Dan Roberts Saltash.Net Community College Recharge the Battery

    Battery Hens are rescued and helped by the students to a new life ,they explore the big picture and students complete an activity to produce their own video or audio podcast  Peer assessment is then used to evaluate and assess the students progress in groups.

    Alessio Bernardelli Croesceiliog Comprehensive Creative Science Investigations

    Pupils carry out a Chromatography experiment acting as real Forensic Scientists in a role play in which a crime scene has been set up. They report their conclusions in a number of ways including Photo Story

    Clare Satchwell City of Lincoln Community College, Learning Live We use a social networking tool the students are already familiar with, that is free, and easy to use. We have simply started using it for an academic purpose. Students can contact staff when they need assistance with their coursework or revision, and get that help INSTANTLY
    Peter Carney Bowring Community Sport College Spy Academy

    The aim of this activity is to allow students to be creative thinkers. They are asked to use their imagination and intellect to generate ideas, insights and solutions to find a culprit and solve a crime. Students work in teams, evaluating a range of sources and evidence to eliminate suspects, reaching an informed decision on who they believe to be the culprit.

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    Reading Don Quixote with 11 year-olds?

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    Bear with me for just a moment, and I promise this will go somewhere.

    I read Don Quixote during my first year at university, when we were required to plough through the entire 1,000 pages of the 17th-century novel in two weeks. I struggled with it, and I was 19 years old and had chosen to study literature!

    When I met Irish teacher Tommy Maher at our worldwide Innovative Teachers Forum in Helsinki last November, I couldn't believe that he was reading Don Quixote with his 11 year-olds. Not only were Tommy's pupils reading Don Quixote (an abridged version, but still!), they were recreating some of their favourite scenes using Lego Robotics and MovieMaker, and keeping an online diary of the entire project. Their work covered science, mathematics, literacy, technology, and art, and much of the learning was student-directed. Impossible, you say? Not so!

    I'm not going to go through the details of this 15-week lesson plan; you read all about it in Tommy's Virtual Classroom Tour "Don Quixote - Impossible Dreamers" on the Innovative Teachers Network by clicking HERE**  Suffice to say, the judges at the Innovative Teachers Forum were impressed, and Tommy was one of our award-winning teachers who got the opportunity to travel to Seattle in June to meet Bill Gates.

    Are YOU doing something incredible with technology in your classroom? If so, tell us about it! Register for the Innovative Teachers Network and complete a Virtual Classroom Tour for your project. Who knows - you could be the next award-winning teacher to travel the world with Microsoft!

    **Note: If this is your first time accessing the Innovative Teachers Network, you will not be able to access the VCT directly from this link. You'll need to go to http://uk.innovativeteachers.com and register to create a username and password for the site. Then click the link above (where you'll be prompted for your username and password) to get to the VCT.

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    It's a small world, after all

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    One of the most common phrases I've heard in the years I've worked on a worldwide education programme is "That won't work in my school because teachers are different in insert country name here." No matter what country I'm in, teachers tend to feel that their problems, their work, their situations are different from most other teachers in the world.

    Once you assemble a group of teachers (or even head teachers) from different countries, as we do each year for our Innovative Teachers Forums, it quickly becomes evident just how similar we all are. Yes, every country has variances in national standards for teachers and students, and different national curricula. And I know that you, as teachers in the UK, don't have to worry about having 60-100 students in each of your classes, like teachers in the Philippines, and you probably have electricity and clean running water in your school on a regular basis.

    But like most other teachers in the world, you don't have enough time to do everything you'd like to do with and for your students. You're often inundated with information - on CPD offerings and other resources - and don't have the capacity to absorb it all and decide what's right for you. Some of you are lucky enough to have supportive leaders, but many of you don't, and are on your own if you decide to make changes in your teaching. Very few of you teach in schools where every student has their own computer that they can use at school and take home with them. And most of you teach in classrooms where you step inside, close the door and work with the same group of students for about an hour before they leave and another group of students enters.

    Change is happening, as you're all aware, but it's slow. Teachers just like you are doing amazing things with the resources they have - or haven't - been given. Take Kumaras Pillay, the South African teacher, whose students don't have access to any technology other than their mobile phones. He developed web sites that they could access via their phones to help them study maths in their free time. (Link to his project here.) Or Linda Kolling, the Danish teacher who uses OneNote to help the parents of her special-needs students tutor them outside school hours. (Linda's project is here.)

    We're hoping that through this blog and the Innovative Teachers Network, we might be able to connect you with ideas, resources, and with other teachers that you might not have found on your own. We're also hoping that you'll share your innovative ideas with us.

    So visit the Innovative Teachers Network and let us know what you think.

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    Subscribe by email

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    EmailIf you join the MSDN blog community (using the link above), you will get an extra couple of nice features.

    One is that you get the chance to comment on any of the blog articles. It's not because I want to know who you are -  unless you tell me in your public profile -as I can't see that info anyway, but to prevent 'comment spam', which is a direct equivalent of email spam, where thousands of comments are dumped onto the blog redirecting readers to amazing, once-in-a-lifetime offers...

    The second reason to join the community is if you want to subscribe to this blog by email, to get new articles into your inbox whenever they are published.

    To sign up for email alerts, use this page, and you'll start receiving new posts as soon as they are published.

    (And you can still subscribe to this blog through your RSS reader, using the RSS 2.0 link at the top of the page.)

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    The Virtual Classroom Tour – What on earth is it?

    • 1 Comments

     

    image

    The Virtual Classroom Tour (or VCT, as the alternative is a bit of a mouthful!) was a complete mystery to me when I first encountered the concept.

    I had visions of it being some sort of high tech Virtual Reality Environment of my classroom (will I need to admit it was my first thought?). But no, fortunately a VCT is a simple Powerpoint Presentation template. It’s a way of not just presenting your work, but packaging together all the resources and information you would need as a Teacher to recreate that activity in classroom.

    As an ICT Advisor, I found it very difficult to share resources with the schools I was working with – and then as a Teacher I realised why? It’s because when I saw some resources on a site, I would download the spreadsheet, PowerPoint or whiteboard file, and not bother with the guidance notes (I didn’t think I’d have time to read those). The result? I simply didn’t get the full benefit of those resources.

    Does that seem familiar to you?

    The VCT has all the documents you need to re-create and adapt the activity for your classroom and have been created by teachers who are part of the Innovative Teachers Network*. At the Innovative Teachers Network site, you can access over 200 VCTs created by Teachers from across the UK and the rest of the world. This collection will continue to grow as more and more Teachers join the network. What will you find and could you contribute?

    Take a look – see what you can find. Next week, I’ll tell you about my favourite VCTs in ‘Who are these Innovative Teachers?’

    *If you are accessing the Innovative Teachers Network for the first time you will need to register, this is completely free and will you give access to huge variety of resources and information.

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