Through out this blog we have introduced you to some outstanding teachers, Such as :- Nicki Maddams, Dan Roberts, Gareth Ritter and Ollie Bray. These teachers joined us through what was then called the Innovative Teachers programme or the Partners in Learning Teachers Programme. Well our branding department has been working overtime and these guys would now be called ‘Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts ’, as the new name that we use in Partners in Learning globally for recognising great learning and teaching expertise and highlighting them as what epitomises a great and outstanding teacher. The focus is on their achievements, it’s not just about technology, its not even just about our technology. It about them being great educators, demonstrating innovation and being an expert in that doing that (even if they don’t realise it themselves) so the new title of Innovative Educator Expert is , in my opinion, a good one.
So can any one be a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert? ( I will shorten this to MIEE for the rest of this post ) Well simply the answer is yes ! But, there is always a but, we place a high regard on this title. So we need Educators to tell us what they are doing in the classroom, in their schools and the impact it has on learners. Previously we had a mechanism called the ‘Virtual Classroom Tour’ this has acted as a CPD portfolio and a competition entry into our Education Forums. This has been replaced by a more robust, but I am afraid, detailed application form. You can find this here on the Partners in Learning Network .
The application form asks the usual questions, about your background, your use of social media in the classroom etc. But , perhaps the three questions that you will need to do some preparation for are:-
Once you have started your application it is saved in draft form. Once you have completed it, with all the necessary elements, you are ready to submit it. You have until September 30th before the application process closes.
We will then select our Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts for next year. As an added incentive we will choose from these who should accompany us to our next Global Forum.
As you have probably seen already, last week we announced our Kodu Kup Finalists. The judging process was very close and due to the standards being so high we even ended up selecting eleven finalists instead of the ten we had originally planned.
We have an exciting day at Microsoft HQ planned for all of them next Friday in which they will each get to present to our panel of judges, as well as have the opportunity to play each other’s games and take a look around Microsoft HQ!
Now, just for fun we have uploaded each of their games to the Kodu Game Lab website so you all have an opportunity to play their games. The link here will take you to the full list. Once you have played some of the games it would be great if you or your students could leave some comments as feedback and even rate them using the star-ratings on the site. Remember, this is just for fun and will have no effect on the final decision made by the judges on the day!
After 5 months of game development competition , 150 games entered, representing 450 students we have now selected our eleven finalists who are invited to attend the grand Kodu Kup UK final on July 5th.
Our select panel of judges have chosen the following Teams and their games as our Kodu Kup UK finalists.
We have chosen 11 finalists as the standard of the games was so high and the judging process couldn’t identify ten clear finalists.
Congratulations to all these teams. We will be sending your school an email with details of the final and we look forward to seeing you on the 5th July at Microsoft Headquarters in Reading.
Thank you to all those teachers and students who have taken part in this year’s Kodu Kup UK. The standard of all the games was extremely high and made the judging process extremely difficult. We will be releasing our official certificate of participation shortly and we look forward to your entries in next year’s completion.
Just in case you missed this on the Schools Blog. My latest post on my secret passion for PowerPoint.
In my constant quest to maintain and increase the awesomeness of PowerPoint, I thought I would share with you some previous posts outlining some great features that you may not have thought of before.
PowerPoint Power Up #1– LiveWeb View add-in – add live pages to your slides.
PowerPoint Power Ups #2–Interactive text boxes in presentations – type directly into your slides during a presentations.
PowerPoint Power Up #3–Logos and Vectors – create image and drawing tools in PowerPoint.
PowerPoint Power Up #4- Mind control! – How colours and fonts affect your audience.
PowerPoint Power Up #5 –ZoomIT – use this great app to zoom in and out of your slides.
I have heard the great Prof. Stephen Heppell talk about how we teach children to present using PowerPoint. Now, we have all sat through excruciating presentations, especially at staff meetings. He suggests that perhaps we should teach students to perform rather than present. So, I have started thinking about this from the point of view of how students control and interact with their presentation and found a few great little apps that add a whole new dimension to presenting. So creating opportunities for students to think differently about how they interact with their presentation and the audience.
We have all seen the gesture control in Sci-films films like Minority Report, in real life, there is Kinect and there are some great resources available that could be utilised to control PowerPoint, such as those created by the K-Team . But, if you a looking for something a little simpler then try Flutter, this a great little free app for Windows that uses a webcam to recognise some simple gestures. Primarily designed to control media players, it can be used to move through slide in a PowerPoint presentation. This encourages presenters to move away from the PC and have their hands free.
Controlling PowerPoint with a games controller can offer a real performance dimension to presenting. First, download Xpadder. It’s not free, but at only $9.99 it’s great value. Xpadder allows students to program different functions to buttons and joysticks on a games controller. A single USB Xbox controller can used to emulate a number of key combinations in PowerPoint. Such as the Space Bar to advance a slide, P to access a previous slide or Ctrl+P to use the ink features. Mouse movements can be assigned to joysticks and if a background application is running such as ZoomIT, then functions of that app can be added as well. Collaboration between ‘performers’ can be expanded further if a wireless Xbox controller is used, then this allows up to four students to interact with a presentation. A whole different dimension can be added if an Xbox Guitar or Dance mat is used instead as a controller. This really opens up the whole idea of performing. Try it with your students.
Finally, here is one of those off the wall ideas that could possibly inspire you. Makey, Makey is a little board of electronics that allow students to create their own controllers out of almost anything. Such silver foil, plasticine, fruit (bananas are great), even pencil drawing. There is no programming involved as the board emulates a range of keyboard keys and mouse clicks. This makes ideal for students to build their own controller to control their PowerPoint presentations.
Here are some great examples from one of our award winning Partners in Learning teachers, Gareth Ritter.
A Banana Piano
A paper instrument
A floor Piano
Get Online @ Home launches £24 PC, with broadband from just £2.99 per month, to help the 10.8 million Brits who do not use the internet
From 11th June 2013, the Get Online @ Home initiative is launching a £24 refurbished PC with broadband from £2.99 per month, to help the staggering number of digitally excluded Brits get online – including 10.8 million aged 15 and over who do not use the internet, 16 million who still don’t have basic online skills, and 800,000 of the most disadvantaged UK schoolchildren who do not have home internet access.
With at least 75% of jobs now requiring online applications and the Government wanting 80% of submissions for universal credit to be online, and potential savings of £3 billion a year if the digitally excluded shopped online – this new offer could be a lifesaver and help get Britain booming.
Created in direct response to the huge consumer need, this price (less than £60 per annum) is a fraction more than the cost of a typical family weekly shop. Get Online @ Home is providing:
For those on eligible benefits – A refurbished PC for £24 with a choice of broadband deals from the top UK providers, with prices starting from £2.99 per month, or a refurbished laptop for £74 plus the same broadband costs. Both include Windows 7 Pro with Microsoft Office Basic – which have an estimated retail price of £150.
For those not on eligible benefits – A refurbished PC for £74 with broadband from £2.99 or a refurbished laptop for £104 plus the same broadband costs. Both include Windows 7 with Microsoft Office Home and Student.
To benefit from this deal people need to call 0800 090 1297 (8am – 9pm Monday – Friday; 9am-6.30pm Saturday; 10am – 6.30pm Sunday), or visit www.getonlineathome.org. A start-up leaflet will help get the new owner going and there are lots of useful guides on the website.
The offer is made possible thanks to Microsoft supplying the software, broadband comparison experts Simplifydigital providing the range of broadband deals from top UK providers, and Partners IT, among others, supplying the hardware.
Chris Williams, at Get Online @ Home says:
“We are delighted to be able to make this extraordinary deal available to offer real help to people that need it. Never before has anything like it been made possible and we know it will benefit all those who have previously not been able to get online.”
Baroness Lane-Fox, who established Go ON UK which aims to make the UK the most digitally skilled nation in the world says:
“With the cost of internet access cited as a key reason for not being online, this is an incredible saving and will transform the lives of everyone that hasn’t been able to get online before. With so much online now, from paying bills and banking to job applications, connecting with people and getting the very best deals, being online is no longer a nice to have, it is an essential.”
Since launch in 2011, Get Online @ Home has supplied over 23,000 computers across the UK. All the refurbished PCs and laptops are designed to do the basics well, with minimum spec of 60Gb harddrive and 2GHz processor.
Kodu has been one the great successes we have had in Partners in Learning this year. Over 71k downloads in the UK, over 400 students have entered the Kodu Kup UK, teachers, like Nicki Maddams have won awards with for their work with Kodu and 100s of teachers have said how fantastic Kodu is to teach programming and computational thinking. But, with everything else in life its hard cold facts that count.
So we would like to invite you to complete a simple survey asking you your thoughts about Kodu and our KoduKup UK..
Click this link to complete the survey.
This will assist Microsoft in understanding your school's use of this visual programming language and games lab environment which allows students from KS2/3 upwards to design and build three dimensional games using either a PC or an XBox and XBox controller.
For every completed survey Microsoft Partners in Learning UK will send you a FREE copy of the amazing 528 page book 'KODU for Kids', saving you over £18.**
** Offer only available to UK Schools. One book per school.
Join the Partners in Learning Network today – www.pil-network.com
Thanks you all for your kind comments regarding our experiment of merging the Schools and Teachers blog. Many of you felt it was a good idea, as you were able to see the full range of offerings from the Microsoft Education Team. But, the majority, like David Rogers from Priory Community School felt that whilst it’s great to see that, most teachers want great practical advice and examples in the use of technology in learning and teaching, without having to look for that amongst other information. So that’s why we are back and prepared to meet that need.
So lets start with a great story of how a teacher who discovered Partners in Learning through this blog. Gareth Ritter from Willows High School in Cardiff has won the most outstanding use of technology in in Education in Wales and joins four other exceptional teachers in the National teaching awards, which will be announced in October.
What the Teaching Awards judges said about Gareth: "There is no doubt that Gareth is an exceptional Music teacher who is making a vast difference not only in the teaching of his subject but to student's lives, colleague's development and the whole school ethos. Gareth has made a significant impact on the whole school community, through his innovative teaching methods and technological creativity. He has an innate ability to understand the needs of his students and, not only skilfully uses technology in his subject to engage and motivate his students in studying music, but as way to show them how they can achieve success in other subjects and in the life!
Gareth adds this award to his Partners in Learning Global Award, which he won at our Global Forum in Washington DC in 2011. From this video you see Gareth’s enthusiasm and passion for his work and students.
Gareth describes working with Partner in Learning as ‘the best CPD I have ever had’, you can start your CPD journey by joining the Partners in Learning at www.pil-network.com – Join for free today
Please join me in congratulating Gareth by leaving a comment below.