This is our second blog birthday gift, our Innovative Teachers Awards, at the UK Innovative Teachers Forum. There are lots of changes this year that we think will make this event the best ever.
This is the 6th Microsoft UK Innovative Teachers Forum, and for the time first in this event, we are working with in partnership with Shireland Learning and the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust. The Forum is taking place on 1st December 2009 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Birmingham.
This one-day conference is free of charge for all teachers and educators who wish to attend and will look to address the theme of ‘Connecting Learners, Connecting Teachers.’ Keynote speakers and practical workshops will explore this theme, along with ‘real life’ examples of some of the most innovative use of technology to enhance teaching and learning.
We will announce on this blog when registration for the conference event is open.
In the meantime, we want you, teachers and educators, to provide your 'real life' examples of using technology to enhance learning. Do you have learning projects that utilise technology and have made a difference in the classroom? Have you been able to influence colleagues through your teaching practice? Could your work be award winning?
Then why not enter the UK Innovative Teachers Forum Awards? You could be one of the top educators in the UK invited share your work with the delegates at this conference. The submitted entries will be reviewed by experts in the field and the creators of the top fifteen projects will be invited to the conference for an awards dinner, with travel and hotel costs paid for by the organisers. At the event we will award four teachers with an invitation to present their project at the next European Innovative Teachers Forum to be held in Berlin in March 2010.
Innovative Teachers Forum awards will be given in three categories:
· Microsoft Innovative Teacher Award – sponsored by Microsoft Partners in Learning
· Innovative Teaching and Learning through a Learning Platform Award – sponsored by Shireland Learning
· Impact and Improvement Award– sponsored by Specialist Schools and Academies Trust
If you wish to enter your project, you will need to decide which category best fits your project. You may enter your project into more than one category, but, you must upload your project to each of the categories you choose to enter.
All projects need to be documented using Microsoft’s Virtual Classroom Tour template. This can be downloaded from the UK Innovative Teachers Forum Community on this site. LINK
Full details of how to enter can be found at www.uk.innovativeteachers.com
Closing date for Entries is 15th November 2009
The 6th UK Innovative Teachers Forum is your chance to share how you are using technology in innovative ways with your pupils and students. We hope to see you – and your innovative Virtual Classroom Tour – at the event.
This is how Wordle sees this blog if we use it to analyse the content we've written over the past word. We are really pleased to see that we are clearly focussing on teachers, but also, we are really pleased to see the prominence of teaching and learning, resources, community and the word innovative. We think these words really reflect what we have been trying to achieve in the past 12 months.
Kristen and I never expected this time last year that we would have written over 100 posts, containing over 51,000 words and our blog would be in the top 90% of blogs in the world in terms of readership.
I have had a look at the statistics that our host site provides about activity on our blog. It give us some indication of what has been the most popular post with you, our readers. I have used those statistics to produce a list of our most popular blog posts.
My favourite post to write this year has probably been ‘A random act of genius’, where I described the work of John Davitt and his Learning Event Generators. This almost convinced me to go back to the classroom as such an approach to learning is so exciting.
Kristen has always wanted to be Maria in The Sound of Music, so her favourite post is ‘These are a few of our favourite things…’ written at the Innovative Teachers Forum in Vienna. This has been the closest she has got so far to playing that role. Maybe with the free copy of Songsmith that you can download from the Innovative Teachers Network, she will be able to create her own version of this song.
What has been your favourite post? Let us know.
Some of you have asked for a picture of Kristen and I in our blog planning meetings. We are happy to oblige. Thanks for taking the time to read our blog; we very much appreciate your comments and are glad that we can contribute in some small way to the superb work you all do in your schools and classrooms.
Here's to another 99 posts!
Today is a great day – a day that will no doubt go down in history. Not only is it the one-year birthday of our Teachers Blog, but this post also marks our 100th post to the Teachers Blog. (If you think we didn’t plan that, you’re crazy.)
Stuart and I weren’t sure what would come of this blog when we started it. We really enjoy writing it, and based on our increasing readership statistics and the comments and emails we receive, some of you out there seem to enjoy reading it.
As a reward for those of you who have joined us on this blogging journey, and as an incentive for you to stay with us (and bring your colleagues along with you), we have a special birthday present for you, our dear readers.
Actually, we have A MONTH of birthday presents for you. That’s right, for the rest of September, Stuart and I will be giving away free resources for teachers reading the Teachers Blog. Much like the free download of AutoCollage we provided last spring, these giveaways are not available anywhere else, to any other teachers in any other country.
We start this month of giving with a piece of Microsoft software that we’ve blogged about before. It’s something created by the geniuses at Microsoft Research and that we feel has a great many potential applications in education. It is usually available only for a fee, after a trial download period expires. Now, however, you can download it FOR FREE for use in education from the UK Innovative Teachers Network.
Your first birthday present for the month of September is….
That’s right, it’s Microsoft Research Songsmith!
Songsmith is the fantastic software that lets you (or your students, preferably), sing into a PC and adds a background track of your choosing to create your own song. The songs are produced as .MP3 files, and can be used in any number of ways in your teaching or in student projects, revision materials, presentations, and so forth. We love Songsmith and were thrilled when the nice folks at Microsoft Research agreed that we could give it to you for free. (For more ideas and information on how to use Songsmith, check out Stuart’s previous blog post.)
To download your free copy of Songsmith, go to the UK Innovative Teachers Network. (You’ll need to register and log in with a free username and password if you don’t have one already.) You’ll see an announcement about Songsmith on the home page and a link for further information and download instructions.
We’d like to thank you for reading our blog during its first year, and we hope you stay with us for this next year – who knows what it might bring?!
To sign off, I’ll leave you with this lovely song, produced in Songsmith, of course, by our very own Innovative Teachers. Enjoy a big piece of cake for us, and stay tuned for your next birthday gift, to be delivered in one of our upcoming posts this month.
Whilst planning these blog posts the guys at Expression and Blend team at Microsoft have added some great features to Deep Zoom Composer . The application now includes features to add links to images and areas within your deep zoom.
If you have been following this series, I described how to create a Deep zoom composition in a previous post. Unfortunately these new features don’t work when you save them to be used locally. As you need to upload to some web space your deep zoom composition for them to work. This takes using Deep zoom out of the context of a common classroom application somewhat. But, nevertheless this is an exciting development. Details of how to create links and some of the other web features can be found here.
The name synonymous with Deep Zoom is Seadragon, its taken me a bit of time to work out the relationship between it and Deep Zoom. My understanding is that Seadragon is the technology that Deep Zoom uses and is coded using Silverlight. It exists in other ‘flavours’ . These include:- Seadragon Ajax, where you are able to use this technology without the use of silverlight. Seadragon mobile, allows you to view Deep Zoom and Photosynth collections on your iPhone and finally Seadragon.com , this website allows you to create zoom able image from any image URL. Try it for yourself.
There are a number of great web experiences utilising this technology. We have looked at the Hard Rock Cafe Memorabilia site before. Here are a few other examples.
The World Digital Library is a site that makes significant cultural treasures like manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs, and architectural drawings. These are collected and place on a world map where they can be browsed You can also use the timeline at the bottom of the map to scroll forward and backward through the ages to see the different documents available.
Then there is this site that called AppleTree which aims to map out the family tree of the world in order to show you how you’re related to everyone.
You and your students might also be interested in the creator of Seadragon technology ,Blaise Aguera y Arcas, check out this video where you can see him demonstrating Seadragon and another great application in the Seadragon family, Photosynth.
I hope you have enjoyed this series of workshops and have been able to create some ideas around the use of Deep Zoom in the classroom. To give you some inspiration , here is a Deep zoom composition from one of our Innovative Teachers, Ollie Bray, you can find out the background behind this composition on his blog. Click this image to see the Deep Zoom.
Whilst working for Microsoft, I have had some great opportunities. One of the things that has had the biggest impact has been the people I have met. I am convinced that it would have been very unlikely that I would have met or even heard about such people when I was in the classroom. This thought is often echoed by the teachers I speak to, who have often not heard of people I mention. I thought I'd use this post to share the names of the people who have influenced me this year. How many of you have seen the video of Sir Ken Robinson discussing the need for creativity in schools? Many teachers are still not aware of it, despite the profusion of references to it across the internet. Sir Ken’s speech had a powerful impact on me personally, as he describes many of the things I was frustrated with and sought to change in my 20 years as a teacher, and I am sure many other teachers would feel the same.
MediaSnackers are the guys that help organisations think how to utilise social media. They are led by the charismatic DK, who got me thinking about how to use social media platforms like Twitter to inform and support teachers. He is also Welsh; no more needs to be said on that. Check out their latest project, ‘The web makes me feel’
More often than not you don’t have to look far and wide to find great influencers. Ray Fleming is the Education Marketing Manager at Microsoft UK, and in a ‘older brother’ sort of way, introduced me to the ‘Shift Happens’ video. I suspect many of you are aware of that video already, but I know many of you are not. I spoke recently with a close head teacher friend who was looking to inspire his staff. He had never seen it and was happy to see that it had all the messages he wanted to share.
I talked about the work of John Davitt and in particular his Random Event Generators in a recent post. I am currently reading his book ‘New Tools for Learning’. This is full of great ideas and has even reminded me of how it great it is to be in a classroom. I was lucky enough to be able to try some of them out with a primary school class recently. The idea of receiving a ‘minitifcate,’ or in our case a ‘Microtificate,’ (a certificate no bigger than 2cm x 2cm) as a reward may not at first seem like a motivating factor. But students in the class I worked with couldn’t wait to receive one, and the quality of the work they produced was outstanding.
We have done a lot of work with schools in developing innovative teachers networks and have found that where they are the most successful when the whole school is involved. That requires someone at the heart of the school to encourage, drive and even drag people along with them. Dave Garland is one of these drivers; he has a vision of technology use that is based in supporting and enhancing teaching and learning. (Although, I'm not sure where his robotic vacuum cleaner fits in to that model!) Dave has successfully been able to overcome the obstacles to the use of social media in the classroom. He has been able to integrate the social network sites Ning and Twitter into the school curriculum. One of his most recent projects is the use of Twitcam to broadcast live from the school. You can see an example here
Whenever you mention the name Tim Rylands, more often than not the response is ‘the Myst man’. I met Tim recently at an event in London, where he made it quite clear that he is more than just the ‘Myst man’. Tim describes himself as ‘being slightly famous, and getting away with it before anyone rumbles him’. In the half hour or so that I listened to his inspirational and motivating enthusiasm for engaging learners, I came away with a list of ideas and resources. (All of which are available on his blog It's worth checking it out and seeing for yourself that he is not a one-man game.
You may notice that this is a list of all men -- why is that? Who are the women who are influencing ICT and its integration into the curriculum? Am I not attending the right conferences? Help me out here...
Nevertheless, add a great lunch to the speakers in this list and and for me, you would have the ideal ICT conference. As our thoughts are beginning to turn towards planning the next UK Innovative Teachers Forum, we would welcome your suggestions of those who have influenced your teaching.
Anybody that has taught knows that certain well-known myths are just not true. For example, there is dinosaur living in a lake in Scotland (actually, I believe this one is true), woman are worse drivers than men and teachers do not work in August. Today I can dispel at least one of these myths: teachers DO work in August.
To prove the point, we invited the Innovative Teachers we have worked with over the past three years to attend a kind of ‘Summer Camp’. (Calling the event a conference or workshop just didn’t seem the right thing to do.) The Summer Camp took place at Microsoft UK headquarters in Reading last week.
We wanted to gather all these teachers together to create a number of new resources to share through the Innovative Teachers Network. Kristen and I have been asked many times whether we have any short, instructional videos about the technology and activities we talk and blog about. The answer (until last week) was always 'No.' When we direct people to how-to resources on the internet, the major criticism has been that they do not have enough of an educational context.
So the starting point for the group last week was to think about what sort of video resources teachers might find useful. We decided that to develop some examples of how teachers could use Office 2007 in their teaching. In a brainstorming activity, we amazed ourselves at the number of features in Office 2007 that have a direct and relevant use in education. For example, do you know about the Maths Add-in for Word, conditional formatting in Excel or action triggers in PowerPoint?
Each teacher was tasked with producing a video, using Community Clips to record the screen actions of using the applications, and Windows Moviemaker to do the final editing and add titles. In two days, we managed to produce 10 videos, the first in what we hope will be a series of about 50 videos. They will not all be about Office 2007, but will include many of the applications we have mentioned in our blog posts, such as AutoCollage. The completed videos still need a little tweaking, but we will have them ready for release in the next two weeks or so, with more to follow as they are completed. We think the results so far are pretty impressive and offer something different than your usual ‘instructional videos’. I’ll take this opportunity to thank all the teachers who attended for the their hard work, their time and their great company.
As ever with Innovative Teacher events there is always a little time for some fun. We held an impromptu traditional British holiday camp ‘Knobbly Knees Contest’, (in which Kristen came third, by the way), and we also had a sneak preview of what delights we can expect from Office 2010.
If any of you have some great uses of Office 2007 in the curriculum that you think are worth sharing and that could be turned in to a 5-minute video, please let us know by contacting me at email@example.com. We would love to hear from you.
And check back in September for the first Office 2007 videos from our Innovative Teachers!
Our colleague Ray wrote a great blog detailing many of the videos and other resources from Microsoft that you can use in your INSET days next year. I’ve included most of the post below; you can read the full post on Ray’s award-winning Schools Blog.
It may be a little early to write this, but I’m aware that some of you will be starting to think (perhaps subconsciously) about starting next term well. And for many schools this will mean the day before the pupils arrive – the INSET day.(Or in-service day, for our US readers - Kristen.) Somebody in your school will be thinking about how to engage, enthuse and inform everybody in your school, and I thought that I’d share a few of the resources we have available.
I have had a number of requests of how to make the the Deep Zoom mosaics I featured in my first workshop post . It's a question I have been asked before, so I have undertaken a little research and this is what I have discovered. Using the information in this post you could easily create these Deep Zoom Mosaics in your classroom with your students and pupils. (click the image on the right to see an example). But I am no expert, so if you have any better ideas, then please share them.
You are going to need a number of tools and resources to construct your own Deep Zoom Mosaic.
Firstly, if you have not already got it, the free application from Microsoft, Deep Zoom Composer . You will also need an application to create the mosaic, I am using AndreaMosaic , which has the advantage it can be run from a usb flash drive and is free. There are many others available and these can be found across the internet. Essential, to this project is large number of images. These can be taken by yourself and students or downloaded from the web or an image library such as Flickr.
You first task is to collect all your images. Remember the more images you have, the greater impact of your mosaic. You can do this is in a number of ways, the easiest is to collect your own. This is a relatively simple activity for your students to undertake, especially if they are on a field trip. They could use their mobile phones, as well as digital cameras to capture images. When back in the classroom all you need to do is collect all the images and store them in one place. Making a mosaic is a great way of recording an experience or event. Alternatively, images can be collected from the web. This can be a time consuming process as each image needs to be downloaded and saved. Thankfully , there are some tools that can make this process less time demanding. I searched and downloaded a simple tool from the web , that automatically downloads and saves images from Flickr . You can find one that suits your needs through a simple web search.
We have had Cats and Dogs, so I thought would make a mosaic based on my favourite animal, Spiders, so arachnophobics beware. After collecting about 200 images. I used Andrea Mosaic Creator to create the mosaic. This mosaic will use 2000 images, if you haven’t got this many images , don’t worry , the application will automatically duplicate images. I chose a main image and left all the settings as their default. Next , I clicked the select tiles button and added the folder with the images. I then saved this as an archive. You are now ready to go and create your mosaic, by clicking the Create Mosaic button. It takes a few moments to create. When the process is complete, save your work.
Close, your mosaic application and open Deep zoom Composer. Create a new project, then add the mosaic image you have just created. Click , Compose and drag your image in to the work area. Resize your image then click Export. Choose whether you want to upload your composition or save it locally to your hard drive. I would do both. A detailed description of how to create a deep zoom composition can be found here.
You will now be able to view your Deep Zoom Mosaic. Click here to see my spider creation.
But, some of you have been busy already, here is a great example from one of blog readers, for all you motorbike fans. http://www.valentinorossi.fr/mosaic.htm Thanks BlackLabrador.
In my previous post I described how I see Deep zoom as a resource for the classroom, rather than just as image design tool for web sites. In this post, I am going to explore how easy it is to create your own Deep Zooms and use them as a medium for visual story telling.
To take part in this workshop, you will need to download and install the following:
Creating your first Deep Zoom
When thinking about using Deep Zoom in the classroom, it's a good idea to think about the context in which it will be used. This helps with the planning of stories and what images need to be collected. An ideal starting point is a trip to a museum, historical site or building.
Deep Zoom Composer divides the creation of a Deep Zoom into three sections:
To begin, make sure that your students have planned an outline for their stories. This will guide them on the photos they need to capture. Their ideas will obviously evolve and develop as they find out more during the activity. My simple story will focus on the activities that people performed in their houses in the past.
The images you use don’t have be taken with a digital camera. They be sourced from photo sharing web sites, screen captures, image scans or created in a paint package. But they must be in JPEG format.
Your added images will appear in a column on the right hand side of the window. Right clicking on an image will allow you remove an image. Clicking the Add Image button again will allow you to add further images.
Once you have added all images you are going to need, click Compose. Now you will see your added images along the bottom of the screen. On the lefthand side you will see a toolbar. The majority of the buttons are alignment tools that can be used to arrange a collection of images, as with the Hard Rock Cafe site.
The main tools you will need for this project are the Select and Pan tools.
Select the image that will be your starting point. Click and drag it from the bottom row in to the central work area. Use the Select tool to resize the image to the size of the work area. Now decide where you are going to embed the next image. Zoom in using your mouse scroll wheel or select the Zoom tool and click. Press the ALT key and click to zoom out.
I am going to place my next image of the dairy in the window frame, as it shows the inside of the house. Click and drag it into the work area. Use the Select tool to resize the image. (I wonder what those two ladies are talking about? I might use them in my story).
At this point if you wanted to embed more photos, you need to move around the image to find other areas. Remember to use Pan tool to do this, not the Select tool, as the image will move and all your carefully-positioned photos will be misaligned. (Thankfully there is an Undo function in the Edit menu.)
In the same way, I am now going to zoom into this photo of the room and place an image of people making cheese in the wooden bowl. This image has been taken from the web, and illustrates how you can combine images from various sources. You will also notice the stunning details of the wood that this technology allows you to to show. Select the Pan tool (so you don’t inadvertently change the image positions) and zoom out to the original image. You will notice a number of pushpins have appeared. These show where you have placed an image. Its a good idea to Save your project at regular intervals, so click Save on the File menu. At this point you can continue adding and embedding images until you are happy with your composition. For the purposes of the workshop, we are stopping at three.
Next click Export. You will now be able to preview your Deep Zoom in the Preview area. Take the time to zoom in and out and explore the images you have embedded. If you wish to make any changes, click Compose and edit your composition.
On the righthand side, you will see two tabs that offer options of where to publish your Deep Zoom. Let’s start with the online option.
So far I have only come across one error message in the creation of Deep Zooms. This occurs when the number of pixels in your composition exceeds 4 billion. To solve this, use lower resolution images (this may need a change of digital camera settings -- see this post) or resize the images in your composition.
I hoped you enjoyed this workshop and have been able to create your own Deep Zooms. If you have any questions or require any help with this workshop please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If any of you would like to send me links to your own creations, I would be more than happy to share them in my next post.
In the next post, I will look at some advanced features of Deep Zoom, such as creating hyperlinks from your composition and looking at the relationship between Deep Zoom and Seadragon.
But, what about my story? Well, in the1800s you couldn’t just visit a shop to buy some cheese. People often made it in their own houses, and women would stand outside and gossip while it was being made. Have a look for yourself by zooming in through the window. This room is the dairy. You can see some of the equipment where the people who lived in the house made their own cheese. It must have been very hard work, as you can see by zooming into the plate.
Stuart and I often talk to you about Microsoft web sites where you can find resources to use in your teaching. However, I don’t think that we’ve ever – in the history of this blog – mentioned our own Microsoft UK Education web site. Corporate web sites in general can often be boring and…well…corporate looking, and it’s not always easy for a teacher to find what he or she is looking for (this is part of the reason we designed the Innovative Teachers Network in the first place).
But I’m pleased to announce that our UK Education site has undergone a makeover that has made it friendlier and easier to access everything Microsoft has to offer to teachers (including this blog!).
This is what the site looked like before last Friday:
And since Friday morning, it has looked like this:
Whilst the new look and feel is nice (and has had some good feedback in its first few days) there are some much more important changes to the navigation and design that are important to me.