The Microsoft Partners in Learning European Forum is being held in Moscow this year, starting on March 22nd - an event run every year by Microsoft. Attending the event in Berlin last year was one of the most profound professional development experiences I have had as a teacher, so I am really excited about going as bag-carrier and cheerleader-in-chief for four awesome teachers with four awesome projects. The UK has a good record of winning awards at these events and at the Worldwide Innovative Education Forum, too – with teachers like Mandeep Atwal, Ollie Bray, Dan Roberts inspiring me and many others, too.
The forum is an event that celebrates some of the wonderful work going on in schools and gives teachers an opportunity for some fantastic networking and learning experiences. From our ten innovative teachers who won awards at the UK Innovative Education Forum in December 2010 – you can find out more about them here – we are pleased to be able to take four award-winners with projects that will, I’m sure, get you as excited as I am about how technology is being used to enhance learning, involve whole communities in collaborations and put the learner in charge of their own learning.
So in this post and the next, I'll be introducing you to them, their projects and look forward to you supporting and encouraging them on their journey.
Louise Dorrian – Xtraordinary SInging
Louise was also inspired by the work of previous award winner, Ollie Bray, and his Thinking Out of the XBox project. She teaches music at Lodge Park Technology College in Corby and wanted to give her pupils the confidence to sing with others in the classroom, so Lips seemed like an ideal game to enthuse and encourage her pupils. The school had also recently implemented Live@edu, which gave them an ideal tool for blogging about the project and involving parents in a competition to find the best parent comment about the project! While the main focus was to explore and refine listening, performing and composing skills, other curricular links are evident. Year 7 students learnt about the history of Hip Hop, took part in a PowerPoint quiz which took its inspiration from A Question of Sport, used LIPs for developing performance skills in class and to inspire their own lyrics. They used Songsmith in the development of their backing tracks before recording their own raps and taking part in an X-Factor style show down, with parents being involved in the judging via Live@edu. The whole project has created a buzz in school, with Lead Practitioners now leading Teaching and Learning Communities to explore other great ideas, students being invited to speak at conferences and interest in the project from as far afield as the US.
Jennifer Blum – Mobilising for London 2012
Another project that shows the power of empowering pupils to take control of their own learning, this project enabled older pupils to take part in a real-life challenge, a real-life brief for a real-life customer. What the pupils achieved shows how learners can respond to high expectations with work that can stand its own in a commercial environment. Jennifer’s Creative and Media Diploma students were given a brief by Ogilvy UK to prepare a mobile phone app that would promote one of 3 sponsors of the Olympics that will be held in London in 2012, whilst meeting the needs of the mobile phone app users wanting to make the most of their visit to the Games. Students had to show an understanding of the client’s brief and needs before investigating the information that would help them, generating, presenting and refining their own ideas. They had to consider how they would present in different contexts and supported each other in refining and improving what would be in their final presentation, as well as how they would appear professional! They used a range of multimedia tools to present their pitch to the client and had some great feedback. Video clips they made were shared and celebrated at the Oscar-equivalent award ceremony held at the college.