I can’t believe its that time of year again, yes, we in in the middle of preparation for the BETT show 2010. Many of you maybe thinking about Xmas, sorting presents , writing cards and decorating the tree. None of that for the Partners in Learning team. No , we are busy , like Santa’s elves, making sure that we everything we need to let visitors to the Microsoft stand know about the Partners in Learning Network. Ordering USB sticks, packed full of useful information and videos to give away, . Then we have to organise teacher experts to present with us and help on our interactive pods. So, if you want to know more about Semblio in the classroom, then come and visit us at the BETT show and ask them. We can also tell you about and show you the new Partners In Learning Network site, where you can find great resources such as free versions of Autocollage and Songsmith. As well as our very popular InnoVIDS, videos to help teachers use technology in the classroom, about which we will have some very exciting competition news to announce at BETT and on this blog.
We will also be attending the BETT Awards Dinner, where we have been shortlisted for an award in the ICT Service and support category, with a bit of luck, we may get it, so fingers crossed. More good news is that we have been nominated for an Edublog award, for this blog.
That just leaves me to thank you all for your support, have a great holiday and we look forward sharing a great 2010 with you.
Stuart and I haven’t had a moment to relax since our very successful Innovative Teachers Forum last week. Last Friday, I ran a workshop at a school in Lewisham for school and local authority leaders going through BSF or other significant school transformation projects. And at the crack of dawn (actually, before the crack of dawn) on Monday, we both flew to Scotland for two days of visits with our new Innovative Schools, Calderglen High School in East Kilbride and Stirling High School in Stirling.
We started the visits at Calderglen High School, where we had a packed agenda for the day. We met our colleague Walter Patterson at the school, and the three of us were immediately split up and taken on tours of the school, led by three of the year 6 school captains. These kids were such stars, and I learned quite a bit about the school, the students, the classes, and more from my tour guide James. Over the course of the day we also sat in on portions of 6 classes, which gave us a good idea of the kind of teaching and learning that occurs across the curriculum, and enabled us to meet quite a few of the wonderful teaching staff at the school. We had separate meetings with the entire leadership team and the ICT leads team, and were able to have a candid conversation (no teachers present!) with student representatives from all years at the school. At the end of the day, Stuart led a very well-attended workshop on free ICT tools and ideas for Calderglen’s teachers (pictured at right).
One of the unique things about Calderglen is that it is partnered with a special needs high school, Sanderson High School, which shares the facilities. The photo at left pictures the student common area at Calderglen (called The Street), which has an open door to Sanderson. Kids from both schools can pass back and forth to attend classes or work together.
On Tuesday, we drove to Stirling High School, one of the oldest schools in Scotland in a gorgeous new building, pictured at right. Depute head Lesley Allen was our guide for the day, giving us a tour of the facilities (which included an indoor pool, rooftop garden and a Heritage Room containing wood panelling, tables and chairs from the original Stirling High). We sat in on two classes, one of which was completely taught by the students, and met with the other depute heads and some teachers who were interested in ideas for teaching with ICT.
The highlight of the day for me was the lunchtime meeting with the school’s Eco Club. Stuart and I were very impressed by the cross-curricular learning that goes on in this award-winning after school activity. The students were passionate and articulate and were clearly learning a great deal and applying that learning in a way that helps the school and community.
Stuart and I headed back to Glasgow airport absolutely exhausted from the whirlwind trip, but energised and excited to work with both schools and their staff in the coming year.
You can follow our work with these schools on this blog, and on the Partners in Learning Network, where resources that these schools will receive from both the Worldwide Innovative Schools Programme will be made available to any school who joins and completes their school profile. You can also learn about UK Innovative Schools and Innovative Teachers workshops on the Partners in Learning Network, so that you and your school can take advantage of these free events as well. (Or follow Stuart @innovativeteach on Twitter, where he’s always Tweeting about these things and more…)
Thanks again to students, staff, and leadership at both Calderglen and Stirling for such a great start to our week!
I must admit that as a teacher, I never had time to read any blogs -- it was often too much just to read the Times Educational Supplement. But now I think that if and when I return to the classroom, blogs will be the mainstay of how I will gather information to inform and develop my teaching. Over the past year or so I have been indebted to a number of bloggers for their inspiration, energy and support. So these are my nominations for the 2009 Edublog Awards:
Best individual blog www.olliebray.com
Best individual tweeter http://twitter.com/olliebray Best new blog - http://chickensaltash.edublogs.org/ Best teacher blog http://chickensaltash.edublogs.org/
Best educational tech support blog http://blogs.msdn.com/ukschools/
Best elearning / corporate education blog http://blogs.msdn.com/ukschools/ Best educational use of a social networking service - http://saltashrainbow.ning.com/
Best educational use of audio - http://mediasnackers.com/ Best educational use of video / visual - http://mediasnackers.com/
Lifetime achievement – John Davitt - http://www.newtools.org/
Thank you to all of these bloggers for your enlightened insights into the world of learning and technology.
Tell us: What are your favourite education blogs?
Yesterday, Stuart and I and our teammates from Microsoft gathered with our colleagues from SSAT, Shireland Learning to welcome over 75 educators to Birmingham for our Innovative Teachers Forum. As Stuart has mentioned, this year’s Forum was our biggest and best yet. We received more VCTs from you for consideration in our awards, we had more people attending the forum than ever before, and we had a day full of highlights from our amazing keynote speaker (John Davitt) and our workshop leaders. The entire day was buzzing with conversation (in-person and on Twitter #itf09), and I have heard nothing but positive feedback from those who attended.
After registering and receiving the requisite goodie bag (which this year was a nice computer bag that included a copy of John Davitt’s new book, a USB stick and some other free things), all attendees assembled for a welcome by Steve Beswick (our director of Education at Microsoft), and John’s keynote. I was definitely in the minority in the room, in that I had never seen John speak before. I thoroughly enjoyed the talk, which John later described to me as a bunch of thought-provoking ideas that you could “store in the right brain for later.” Some of the nuggets I took away:
We also heard about many, many new tools available for free for use in the classroom. This continued in the first workshop I attended, given by our own Stuart and Dave Garland, from saltash.net community school in Cornwall. Educators in that session never stopped taking notes as Stuart and Dave listed free software, Web sites, and other applications for use in education, along with examples of how the tools are being used today. (All of these will be posted on the Partners in Learning Network for anyone to share.)
For the afternoon workshop, I also attended John Davitt’s workshop, which is well described by Ollie Bray on his blog. My group used the random activity generator to put three words in local dialect into a 20-second audio file. (Not as exciting as the knitting Ollie and his group are working on at left, but still fun.)
There were lots of opportunities for networking and for educators to look at the VCTs of our 14 award- winners. After a question and answer session with all of our workshop presenters, we had our awards ceremony. Microsoft selected four teachers to join us in Berlin in March for the European Innovative Teachers Forum. This was not an easy decision, trust me. After much deliberation, we ended up with these four teachers:
We also awarded Dave Garland with a “special award” to be given to a person in a school who may not actually submit VCTs, but is responsible for the vision and drive behind ICT integration. Dave will be joining us in Berlin as a judge for the European Forum.
All in all, it was a fantastic day. Stuart and I are already planning for next year, when we hope the event will be even bigger and even better. We would love your suggestions for location or ideas for speakers and workshops, so feel free to send them our way or post them to the Partners in Learning Network.
Congratulations to all of the teachers who won awards at the Forum yesterday. We’re continually impressed by the amazing work UK educators are doing in the classroom every day.