My favourite part of the Microsoft Innovative Education Forum is meeting the teachers that have submitted Virtual Classroom Tours to share with their colleagues. I’m lucky enough to have been asked to be a judge at this year’s Forum, which is a lot of work, but also means that I get to speak in-depth to most of the teachers about their truly extraordinary practice.
I always wish that every teacher I know could attend this event, to learn from and share with the other teachers here. (The head teachers I’ve spoken to here have said the exact same thing.) The energy is palpable – especially this morning as cheers erupted when teachers arrived and learned who had made it in to the semi-finals.
Here are some of the semi-finalists I was lucky enough to speak with today.
Annete Wagner, from Germany, devised a real-world chemistry lesson that helps students understand the “why” of learning chemistry. She took them to the supermarket to discover chemicals in products, and students presented their findings by creating Deep Zooms. Students learned how the chemicals used in baking one of Germany’s culinary treats – pretzels – are toxic before cooking and safe after cooking (and then got to eat the results of their work).
Teresita Trinidad Moreno, from Mexico, teaches at a school on the US border. To keep her students in Mexico – and working to support the Mexican economy – she connects them with local businesses so that they can gain skills by producing advertisements for local companies. Students create videos, print ads, and radio ads, and the project has been so successful that more companies are looking to participate.
Mark Sparvell, from Southern Australia, has built a community of schools all over Australia where students can talk about environment and sustainability issues their communities are facing. Students learn from each other in an online environment, challenging each other and selecting the topics they want to discuss and the method and technology for presenting their ideas.
Karina Batat, from Israel, works with parents, leaders and students in her school and community to connect her students with others around the world to discuss issues of culture and tolerance. Her pupils design a mascot and exchange it with pupils in various other countries, starting a dialogue with those children about their customs, challenges, and society.
And last but not least, our own Mandeep Atwal and Ollie Bray – both of whom are semifinalists as well! (For a reminder of their projects – Young Voices and Thinking out of the xBox, click HERE.)
Congratulations to all of the teachers at this year’s Innovative Education Forum!