MSDN Blogs

• #### Subject snacks – Ideas for teaching Modern Foreign Languages

I’ve seen some really creative ideas for using technology to teach modern foreign languages, both in schools in the UK and in other countries. Since I used to be a French teacher, this week’s subject snack would be a pain au chocolat: buttery and rich and perfect with coffee. (And really fattening, as I experienced when I gained 20 pounds in 6 months of study in France. But I digress…)

The most obvious choice for the foreign language snack this week are the Flashcards from Microsoft Education  Labs. Stuart blogged about these back in February. I created my own set of flashcards in less than 10 minutes to teach words for fruits in French. You can see this lovely resource here. I chose to use photos and to omit sound, mostly because my American-accented French isn’t what it used to be.

One of the best foreign language lessons I’ve ever observed was at a school I visited in Greece. (This one is a bit more elaborate, but a fantastic application of real-world language skills.) The English class in this Greek school was partnered with an English class in a German school, and the only common language for the students was English. The students used Windows Live Messenger to communicate – through both writing and video/audio chats – on lessons and activities that their teachers had planned in advance. The day I visited they were discussing popular music, and every student was actively participating (possibly because people in suits were visiting, but I doubt it).

Share with us YOUR ideas of how to use technology to teach modern foreign languages, and you have a chance to get one of our lovely prizes! Simply click the Email Blog Author link on this page, or add your idea to the comments field for this blog entry. We’ll announce the best ideas next week.

À bientôt.

• #### Maths Snacks – Your ideas

Thanks to all those that sent in an idea snacks in response to this post. Here are those we had sent in.

I use PowerPoint to great effect in helping children understand and visualize geometrical problems, such as to demonstrate that the area of a triangle is 1/2h*b. Have the triangle and the rectangle of height h and base b next to it. Then, overlap the triangle on the rectangle and slice off half of the rectangle to leave only the triangle you started off with. Even better, get your pupils to make these animations, e.g. a parallelogram as the area of the relevant rectangle’ Thanks Alessio

‘I use a lot of online manipulatives when introducing or exploring math concepts.  They allow for inquiry that would not otherwise be possible in the classroom because of limited time and/or resources.

Kids and Cookies is one of my favorites.  I use it to introduce the concept of fractions in a problem based way by asking the students to figure out how an even number of kids can share an uneven number of cookies equally.  I describe the lesson in this free fractions ebook:  www.starrmatica.com/ebooks . Another of my favourite sites houses probability spinners.  The spinner parts can be adjusted to meet the needs of any level, and spins can be recorded on a graph to show results.  Spinning a spinner 100 times and then 1000 times stimulates a discussion of theoretically probability versus experimental probability.’
Thanks Emily

‘Probably, the most exciting maths activities I have done with my class are to explore Fractals. The internet is full of free software and websites, that can allow your pupils to explore and experiment with these fascinating mathematical objects.

I also use the drawing tools in PowerPoint to create and explore Tangrams . Once pupils had created their own puzzle design, they could animate it using the animation tools.
Thanks Bobby.

Thanks to those who contributed to last weeks Maths snack. The exclusive Partners in Learning computer bag is on it's way to you.

If you have some great ideas of how you use technology in different subjects, then let us know your ‘snack’. Next week’s subject snack will be on using technology to support foreign language teaching, so get thinking and we are looking forward to receiving your ideas.

• #### Microsoft UK Innovative Education Awards 2010

We are pleased to announce we are now accepting entries for this year’s Innovative Education Awards. (You'll know these as the Innovative Teacher Awards -- we've changed the name to tie in with the European and Worldwide Events.) These annual awards showcase the best uses of technology to support teaching and learning across the curriculum. If you're thinking that you're not doing anything innovative or creative with technology, then think again, because you probably are.

We have changed the application process a bit this year to make it easier for you. Our Virtual Classroom Tour (VCT) template contains just two slides for you to complete to describe your project. You will need a Windows Live ID to access to the Partners in Learning Network (if you're not already a member) and the new Partners in Learning Skydrive. The Partners in Learning Network contains the Forum community, with information about the event itself. The Skydrive is where you can download the application guidelines and the Virtual Classroom Tour template and where you will submit your completed VCT to the awards competition by emailing it to itnukteam@hotmail.co.uk

The closing date for submitting a project as a Virtual Classroom Tour is November 1st 2010. So there is plenty time to document an existing project or even begin a new one. The authors of the 10 best Virtual Classroom Tours will be presented with awards at our Innovative Education Forum Event (IEF) later this year. At the IEF we will also select the four best projects to represent the UK at the European ITF which will be held in 2011 in Moscow!

What do to next?

• Join this community on the Partners in Learning Network
• Download the Virtual Classroom Tour (VCT) Template from our Skydrive or from this blog post.
• Read the application criteria on our Skydrive or from this post
• Complete the VCT template between now and November.
• Email your completed project before November 1st to itnukteam@hotmail.co.uk
• Check the Partners in Learning Network and this blog for the latest information about the Innovative education Forum Event

Images from last year's Microsoft UK IEF 2009 in Birmingham

• #### Subject snack – Ideas for teaching Maths

Mathematics or Math as Kristen would say, is subject we often get asked about when we visit schools. Here are some of the ideas and resources that we have thought of and found that could used in the classroom. If this were a real snack it would be cheese, crackers and a little pickle, plain and simple, but satisfying.

Using Word to developing learning in maths may not seem obvious. Download the Math Add-in for Word 2007 . This allows you create, solve and visualise equations. Students can then use the usual features of word to explain the equation. If you are looking to add creativity, they could do this as poetry. For an explanation of how to use the add- in, check out this Innovid on our Youtube channel.

Word also has a set of drawing tools, this can be utilised to draw  2D and 3D shapes and other objects. Right clicking to change the properties allows students to accurately set the dimensions of the shape. I have used this to visualise the Fibonacci number sequence and explore ratio and scale.

A digital camera is a way great of exploring maths concepts in the local environment. This innovative teacher from Canada describes how her pupils explored quadrilaterals in and around the school, recording their ideas in Moviemaker or Photostory. See - Quadrilaterals Using Windows Movie Maker.

Here’s a quick activity using Word to create parabolic curves from straight lines. Insert a chart, label both axis 1 to 10 and remove the gridlines using the chart formatting features. Next, use the Insert shape feature to draw straight lines. Draw these from points on the axis. Start with 10 to 1, 9 to 2 etc. Next, select and copy all the lines. Delete the chart and paste the copied lines. Right click and group all the lines to form one object. Now, use the formatting tools to add colour and effects such as shadows. Copy and paste to create copies. Resize and rotate these to create interesting images. I will make a short innovid of this activity if you would like more details.

Now it's over to you, we are not Maths specialists, so we would welcome your ideas of activities that support maths teaching and learning. You can email your ideas (using the email blog author link above), or leave us a comment. We will post your contributions next Monday and send something from the Partners in Learning ‘goodie closet’ to the authors of those we publish**

**UK Teachers only

• #### Free Microsoft software for schools, from the Fun and Free Friday event

Over 100 schools attended our Fun, Free Friday event last week. It was a great day with an absolutely packed agenda. I wanted to share all of the links to the various downloads we mentioned during the day. Many of which we have covered here on this blog. If you need some ideas of how to use the software to enhance teaching and learning, have a look through our previous blog posts and check out our YouTube channel.

Bing Maps

Bing Maps is so much more than just maps and directions. Bing Maps delivers a truly immersive experience that connects people to the world and a growing number of useful and valuable applications. Whether you want to find and view photosynths, see Twitter feeds, explore environmental projects or just explore the world; Bing Maps is a great resource for educators and students to enrich their learning experience.

##### Photosynth

Photosynth is a tool that takes your photos, mashes them together and recreates a 3-D scene out of them that anyone can view and move around.

##### Community Clips

Community Clips is a free download from Office Labs that allows you record activity from your computer screen, narrate that activity and save it as a video file. This makes it ideal for recording simple instructional videos and to record student computer activity for assessment purposes.

##### Worldwide Telescope

Worldwide Telescope is a free download that enables you to access a huge collection of stunning images of the universe from the Hubble Space Telescope and many other space and earth observatories . These can be used to engage students, and to support teaching and learning in Maths and Science. It is a great tool to encourage students in research and project based learning around the planets, the solar system and the stars and to give them an appreciation of the scale, complexity and beauty of the universe.

##### Pivot

Pivot is a visual way of presenting and analysing data, from Microsoft Live Labs. It’s very difficult to describe in words, so perhaps the best way to see what it can do is to watch this video from the TED Conference 2010

You can download Pivot from the GetPivot website, and use it straight away with the Pivot Collection – or if you’re technical, you can create your own Pivot collection, either in Excel or from a data source. (I used the Pivot Collection Tool for Excel for the SIMS example)

##### DeepZoom

DeepZoom allows students to create image compositions that can be viewed at different resolutions. Photos can be embedded within one another making it an ideal resource to develop thinking skills and digital storytelling.

A great example of the use of  DeepZoom technology can be found at the Hard Rock Café - http://memorabilia.hardrock.com/. (You will need the Silverlight plug in to view this)

You can find a series of tutorials about how to use DeepZoom Composer on the UK Teachers Blog

##### Live@edu

Outsource your email and collaboration solution using this free offering – give all of your staff and students a 10GB Exchange mailbox, 25GB storage and collaboration space, access to the office web app – oh – and it works on almost any platform and in almost any browser, too.

http://www.microsoft.com/liveatedu

##### SkyDrive and Live Sync

SkyDrive is 25GB of online storage that you can access from any PC to store your files and either keep them private, share them with friends or make them public.  It’s at http://skydrive.live.com

Windows Live Sync is about to get an update to keep your PCs and web storage in sync.  Giving you 2GB of web storage space and the ability to sync content between multiple PCs, Live Sync is a great way to tool to keep you files and photos up to date. Unfortunately it is still in beta but will be part of the updated Windows Live Essentials – keep an eye out at http://get.live.com

##### Office Web Apps

The Office Web Apps have just launched this week. They’re at http://office.live.com and they provide free, lightweight editing of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents through the browser.

##### Windows Live Messenger

More than just instant chat! Live messenger can be a great way of engaging your students in a more exciting and innovative way of learning. It’ll help save money with free simple video conferencing, and to take the pressure away from email - file sharing becomes instant. You can download it as part of Windows Live Essentials

##### Bing Translator

Ever been stuck with a bit of text or a website that’s in a language you don’t speak? Needed to get something across to a teacher across the seas? Or wanted to have an IM conversation that wasn’t limited by language barriers? Bing Translator bridges the gap between languages, so whether you’re chatting to someone or reading an article, you’re covered.

http://www.bing.com/translate

##### Windows Live Writer

Live Writer is a programme that allows you to write blog posts offline, and then upload them onto your blog (and it works with all kinds of different blog platforms, like WordPress, Blogger, Community Server, SharePoint, Live Spaces, and lots of others). You can find out a little more about it in my “I love Live Writer” blog post, and download it free with Windows Live Essentials.

##### Songsmith

Singing in the shower is so last year – get your students creative juices flowing across the entire curriculum using Songsmith - a quick & easy way of creating songs, raps, rhymes and tunes out of whatever comes into your head. Although normally you’d pay for SongSmith, it’s free to education in the UK via the Partners in Learning Network

##### Photostory 3

Photostory 3 allows your pupils and students to create videos from still images. They can add narration, music and special effects. It is ideal resource to use in all areas of the curriculum.

Photostory can be downloaded for free at - http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/photostory/default.mspx . You will also find this resource on Digital Storytelling in the classroom useful.  - http://www.microsoft.com/education/teachers/guides/digital_storytelling.aspx

##### Microsoft and Moodle

If you’re using Moodle, you don’t have to miss out on some great free tools – using our Office for Moodle plugin you can open from and save directly to a Moodle site, and with the Moodle Plugin for Live@edu, you can get your recent mail and calendar items right within your Moodle learning environment.

http://www.educationlabs.com

##### Kodu

Kodu is a visual programming language for creating games designed to be accessible for children and an ideal way to ignite an interest in computer science whilst teaching other skills such as cooperation, logic and creativity.

www.fuse.microsoft.com/kodu

##### DreamSpark

DreamSpark is a programme designed to give all students access to Microsoft tools and training materials at no cost.

www.dreamspark.com

##### Digital Literacy Curriculum

This is the home page for the English version of the Digital Literacy Curriculum – which is available in 34 languages – including Welsh!   It’s a lovely set of curriculum resources with an interactive interface which allows people to study at their own pace and in ways that suit their own learning style!   It’s available online and it’s also FREE !!   The goal of the Digital Literacy Curriculum is to teach basic computer concepts and skills so that people can use computers in everyday life.  Modules cover Computer Basics; Desktop Applications; the Web; Safety and Security; and Digital Lifestyles.  Once you have completed all five modules, you are ready to take an Entry Level 3 qualification with OCR or City and Guilds and you have the foundations for a journey to higher level skills which could provide a real boost to your employability.

##### Office Ribbon Hero

The new prototype Office Ribbon Hero is designed to test the effectiveness, feasibility and appeal of delivering Office training in a game-like setting.  The heart of Ribbon Hero is a set of challenges that users play right in the Office applications. These challenges expose users to features that they might not be aware of and which can help users get their work done faster.

In addition, Ribbon Hero awards points for using both basic features, such as, Bold and Italic, and for using the features introduced in the challenges.  Ribbon Hero does some analysis of the person’s usage patterns to prioritise the order in which it presents challenges. And then to add the competitive element, Ribbon Hero integrates with Facebook so you can share your success (or in my case, failures) with your friends.

##### Mouse Mischief

Want to keep your students' attention? Try a little Mischief. Mouse Mischief is a tool that Microsoft makes available free of charge, and that allows teachers to work with Microsoft Office PowerPoint to make interactive presentations. Mouse Mischief integrates with Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 and Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007, enabling teachers to insert questions, polls and drawing activity slides into their lessons. Students can actively participate in these lessons by using their own mice to click, circle, cross out or draw answers on the screen.

You can download Mouse Mischief, and see a demo video, on the UK website

##### Flashcards

Create online personlised revision materials for your students and pupils. These flashcards can contain images and audio, making them an ideal resource for language and special educational needs teaching. The Flashcards give feedback on how well students and pupils are doing, allowing them to identify the areas they need to improve. Go to EducationLabs to find out more and to create your own Flashcards.

##### pptPlex

pptPlex is a free add-in for PowerPoint that makes it simple to present non-linear content and interact with your slides more dynamically – it’s a very different way to present.

##### XNA

XNA is a games development platform for Windows OS, Phone and Xbox 360. It is an ideal way to engage your most enthusiastic students and teach them some core programming skills applicable to all Microsoft platforms.

http://creators.xna.com

##### Innovids

Innovids are a series of instructional videos created by teachers for teachers as part of the UK Partners in Learning Network programme. Using community clips and Moviemaker, teachers have recorded how they use a range of Microsoft applications in the classroom. These include Office 2007, as well as applications such as AutoCollage and Bing. Each video shows not only how to use the software , but a context in which to use it effectively to support learning across the curriculum.

You can access and download these Innovids from the UK Partners in Learning Network -  http://uk.partnersinlearningnetwork.com or the UK Partners in Learning YouTube Channel - http://www.youtube.com/innovativeteach

##### Partners in Learning Network

This a global community of teacher who value innovative uses of ICT that improve and support learning. By joining the UK Partners In Learning Network, you can:

• Create or join communities & discussions
• Find lesson plans and activities, as well as share your own resources
• Collaborate with like-minded colleagues, to develop best practice  in your own classroom and community

Our UK Teachers Blog supports this  Network, with all the latest developments, ideas and news that we think can help and support teachers.

UK Teachers Blog - http://blogs.msdn.com/b/teachers/

UK Partners in Learning Network - http://uk.partnersinlearningnetwork.com

• #### Office Web Apps – How do I get them?

One of the most exciting developments I think of Microsoft Office 2010, are the Office Web Apps. These are available now if you have a Windows Live ID. We will be looking at how you can use these web apps in the classroom in the next few months. But I wanted to share this post from the UK Schools blog, which describes how you might access Office Web Apps in school.

Firstly, these apps are examples of cloud based services, with lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote available through your internet browser. This means that you can start editing a document in Office 2010 on your laptop or desktop computer, and then view, edit and share the document using the web version. So it means that your students can create and edit Office documents at home, without needing the full version of Office on their computers. And it works with a broad range of web-browsers, so they don't even need to be running a Windows computer.

There are three ways to get Office Web Apps :-

##### Office Web Apps in Windows Live

If you have a Windows Live ID, then you will have a skydrive, a 25GB web storage area. (You can also use it to sign up to the Partners in Learning Network). Here you can create and save documents for your own use, or share them with specific other people, or save files that you want anybody to access.

There are step-by-step instructions to getting started with Office Web Apps in WIndows Live here.

##### Office Web Apps in Live@edu

In many ways, this option is similar to the Windows Live , in that your students and staff will have a Windows Live login to get to their free email inbox, SkyDrive and Office Web Apps. However, it fits more effectively into your school IT infrastructure, as you manage all of your Live@edu user accounts  This means that when you add new student on your server, it automatically creates their email account (on your own .sch.uk domain) and their account that can be used for SkyDrive, Office Web Apps etc. Have look at the Live@edu blog, for further details about Live@edu

##### Office Web Apps in SharePoint 2010

The new version of SharePoint released this summer, now includes Office Web Apps as part of the package. Which means that your students and staff can access documents directly in the browser on your SharePoint site. This is particularly useful if you want to upload a learning activity onto your learning platform, and then ask students to work on it collaboratively - they can edit it at the same time, and the SharePoint version of Office Web Apps will manage all of the changes simultaneously. For a summary of Office Web Apps in SharePoint, take a look at this article

• #### Introducing – Subject Snacks on the UK Teachers blog!

In our blog "What do Teachers Really Want?", we mentioned that we want to provide you with more ideas of how you can use Microsoft technology to teach your specific subject area. For the next several weeks, we’ll be focusing on Subject Snacks – sharing our ideas and rewarding you for sharing yours.

Here’s how it will work.

1. On Monday each week, we’ll post a blog introducing the subject for the week (maths, science, geography, and so forth). We’ll also provide couple of ideas of our own as to how you might use Microsoft technology in lessons or activities for those subjects.
2. During the week, you’ll use the “email the blog writers” link on the right of this blog to send us your ideas for using technology in your lessons or activities in this subject area.
3. The following Monday, we’ll post what we think are the most creative ideas to the blog and will collect all of them in a special section on the Partners in Learning Network so that you can easily find them later.

But wait…there’s more!

As an extra added incentive, if we post your ideas to the blog, we’ll send you a free gift! This might be an USB stick, it might be a Partners in Learning computer bag, or a Microsoft coffee mug or something else from our closet of goodies. It could also be a piece of Microsoft software.  You just won’t know unless you try!**

We’ll start the first Subject Snack blog next Monday and will continue for several weeks. So check back for your chance to participate.

**Unfortunately, we’re only able to send gifts to UK teachers.

• #### Change is a good thing – Our New Blog design

You may have noticed a few changes to our blog, this because the system it is hosted on has been completely re-built, giving us the opportunity to completely re-design the blog’s look and feel.

We have a new look and have made some changes that can help you find the information you want more easily, here are some of those changes that will help you.

• You may not always be able to access or use an RSS reader, so now you can easily subscribe by email to this blog - and get updates delivered straight into your inbox. On the top right, you'll see a little box that you can put your email address into.

• It's easy to find content using tags down the right are now so much easier to use. The menu on the right of this page shows the top 25 tags that have ever been used on the blog, but if you click on one of them, you can see all of the tags - making it easy to find posts with the same subject - like teaching ideas, or Free resources
• You can sort the blog posts by when they were published, how many views they've had, and which have most comments. The post that has the most views is this one. Which is surprising as AutoCollage is our top search keyword.The most commented post is Practice makes perfect- What is it teachers are professionally developing?
• You can now rate posts using the five little stars above each post. (Not that Kristen will be comparing how may stars she has to me….. she will!)

• It is now really easy to cross post a blog post to your favourite social network site. Click on the post title and use these links.
• For the moment the search now searches every blog on the MSDN site, not just this one. Which is ok if you’re looking ideas about SQL data . But it’s not helpful if you want to find content on just this one. We have been promised that next month it'll be back to normal, but in meantime, perhaps experiment with tags to find stuff easily.
• It is now so much easier to comment on our posts. Just click on the post title and then scroll to the bottom of the post. We would really welcome your comments. If you have not left a comment before why not respond to this post. Tell us what you think of the new design.

adapted from ‘Welcome to our new blog’  -Thanks Ray

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