A new name, a whole new sleek look and a whole new direction. We're talking about the launch of our new Partners in Learning Network. Like all new things it will take a little getting used to. Think of it as like getting a new pair of shoes: they need breaking in and you may get a blister or two, but it is worth it, because they look so good. (I can’t believe I am talking about shoes - I am spending too much time in Kristen’s company).
This is a whole new experience for me as well. I have been using the previous Innovative Teachers site for 5 years, so it is going to take a little learning on my part to get used to the new setup and be able to maximise the great new features. So, I will be blogging my experiences, which I hope will help your experience of the new site. For me, it's a case of teaching an ‘old dog, new tricks’, I think.
The first thing you need to be aware of is the name change. We are now the Partners in Learning Network. You will need to update your Favourites and change any links you have on your blogs or website.
This is totally new space and you will need to go through a verification process so that the new site will pull in all your information from the the old site. You only have to do this once.
When you visit the new Welcome page , click the Sign In button.
A number will things will happen. Firstly, you will be taken to the Windows Live site. Here you will need to use your Windows Live ID to sign. If you don’t have one you will need to sign up for one.
Next, when you sign in with your Live ID, you will see the following screen .
Once you have completed the relevant side of this form, you will be sent an email that will contain a hyperlink. This link will take you into the site. Many email filters are being a bit over zealous and sending this mail to your Junk email folder. So check that just in case you don't see the email in your inbox.
This will be the only time you have to go through this process and I realise it is perhaps a bit long winded, but it is essential to ensure that your data, your profile and communities move across from the old to the new site.
If you are experiencing any issues or have questions about the new site then please contact me at email@example.com We'd also love to hear what you are liking about the new site.
Stay tuned for the next post about the new Partners in Learning Network.
We’re all finally back from Brazil, after an exhausting and very rewarding week. Our week ended on Friday with the event’s gala dinner and teacher awards. Before and after dinner, we were treated to a performance by the local Salvador youth orchestra. The orchestra has brought together some of the less fortunate young people in Salvador, in an effort to teach them music and improve their confidence and self esteem. The performance was truly impressive considering these kids had been performing together for less than two years. The crowd rose to their feet for standing ovations after nearly every piece – and we even did a bit of dancing at the end.
The highlight of the evening was most definitely the awards ceremony. As I mentioned in earlier posts, our teachers Ollie and Mandeep faced some really tough competition from the other incredible teachers and their projects from all over the world. Thus the entire UK contingent went a little crazy when BOTH Ollie and Mandeep were announced as winners!
Ollie won second prize in the Community category for his project, “Thinking Outside the XBox.” Mandeep won first prize in the same category for her project, “Young Voices.”
To add to the surprise, we learned that all of the first prize winners in each category won HP touch screen PCs, which had been donated by HP to each winner. Incredible!
The celebrating continued late into the evening, and we were ready for some sleep by the time we boarded the plane on Saturday. It was quite a week – but don’t just take my word for it. See the following blogs for more stories about the event from some of the people who attended.
Merlin John's blog: Merlin was a judge at last year's event in Hong Kong
Ollie Bray's blog: Ollie's blog is also a great source for ideas of new technologies to use in your teaching
The Stirling High School blog: The team from Stirling were blogging all week to tell their students about their experiences in Brazil.
The Learning Teaching Scotland web site.
Registration is still open for the UK Innovative Teachers Forum in Birmingham in December – go to the NEW Partners in Learning Network to join us!
My favourite part of the Microsoft Innovative Education Forum is meeting the teachers that have submitted Virtual Classroom Tours to share with their colleagues. I’m lucky enough to have been asked to be a judge at this year’s Forum, which is a lot of work, but also means that I get to speak in-depth to most of the teachers about their truly extraordinary practice.
I always wish that every teacher I know could attend this event, to learn from and share with the other teachers here. (The head teachers I’ve spoken to here have said the exact same thing.) The energy is palpable – especially this morning as cheers erupted when teachers arrived and learned who had made it in to the semi-finals.
Here are some of the semi-finalists I was lucky enough to speak with today.
Annete Wagner, from Germany, devised a real-world chemistry lesson that helps students understand the “why” of learning chemistry. She took them to the supermarket to discover chemicals in products, and students presented their findings by creating Deep Zooms. Students learned how the chemicals used in baking one of Germany’s culinary treats – pretzels – are toxic before cooking and safe after cooking (and then got to eat the results of their work).
Teresita Trinidad Moreno, from Mexico, teaches at a school on the US border. To keep her students in Mexico – and working to support the Mexican economy – she connects them with local businesses so that they can gain skills by producing advertisements for local companies. Students create videos, print ads, and radio ads, and the project has been so successful that more companies are looking to participate.
Mark Sparvell, from Southern Australia, has built a community of schools all over Australia where students can talk about environment and sustainability issues their communities are facing. Students learn from each other in an online environment, challenging each other and selecting the topics they want to discuss and the method and technology for presenting their ideas.
Karina Batat, from Israel, works with parents, leaders and students in her school and community to connect her students with others around the world to discuss issues of culture and tolerance. Her pupils design a mascot and exchange it with pupils in various other countries, starting a dialogue with those children about their customs, challenges, and society.
And last but not least, our own Mandeep Atwal and Ollie Bray – both of whom are semifinalists as well! (For a reminder of their projects – Young Voices and Thinking out of the xBox, click HERE.)
Congratulations to all of the teachers at this year’s Innovative Education Forum!
As usual at these events, we have the best intention of writing blog posts every day, but the event’s agenda of workshops, keynotes and collaboration projects has kept us completely occupied from 9 – 18:30 every day. Thus it’s now Friday and it’s only our second post of the week. Better late than never, I always say…
In my last post, I mentioned that this year’s Innovative Education Forum was unique because it is bringing together teachers AND schools from all over the world. Microsoft has been running an Innovative Schools Programme for nearly three years now; it was originally announced by Bill Gates when he addressed world leaders with Gordon Brown (before he was prime minister) at Microsoft’s Government Leaders Forum in Edinburgh. In the Innovative Schools Programme, Microsoft works with schools from 35 countries, providing them with mentorship, a community of peers and education experts from around the world, and leading research, expertise and proven practice to help them transform the way their schools operate. Schools are encouraged to rethink all aspects of school life, from the structure of the day and the use of technology in the curriculum to ensure that teachers have the space and time to bring innovative practices to the classroom.
The competition to be a part of the Innovative Schools Programme is fierce; this year we had over 110 schools apply for 30 spaces. In the UK, we were lucky enough to be the only country with TWO schools selected to be in the programme – both from Scotland. They are Calderglen High School, outside of Glasgow, and Stirling High School in (you guessed it) Stirling.
Since we’ll likely be talking about these schools a lot this year, and since everyone will get to share in what the schools are learning at this conference – and at other meetings and “virtual university” sessions – through the Partners in Learning Network, I thought you should have a little introduction to them here.
Calderglen High School: Located in East Kilbride, Calderglen is a comprehensive school with over 1700 students ages 11-18. Calderglen is a relatively “new” school, having formed in 2007 as the merger of two schools put into a new build (sound familiar?). Their merger was extremely successful as a result of the connection they have with parents, community and other local stakeholders, and because of the work they did to prepare students and staff for the changes. They are partnered with another local school, which shares their campus, and pupils in both schools share aspects of the curriculum and all facilities with each other.
As part of the Innovative Schools Programme, Calderglen hopes to get help with some of the innovations in curriculum design, ICT use and CPD that they are undertaking right now. We’ll hear more from Tony McDaid and Odette Frazer (pictured at left at the Innovative Schools fair at the Forum), as well as others from Calderglen.
Stirling High School: A slightly smaller comprehensive school at nearly 1000 students, Stirling is also an 11-18 school. They have a successful model of distributed leadership at the school; indeed, the head teacher gave up her place on this trip so that the team behind the Innovative Schools application could attend. Stirling students are involved in real-world projects with environmental and enterprise focus that allow them to collaborate with community members and have an impact on the place they call home.
As part of the Innovative Schools Programme, Stirling hopes to learn from others (like our former UK Innovative School in Knowsley) about pupil-centred curriculum design, among other things. Meet Mark Rushton, Michael Mullin, Lesley Allen and Alan Hamilton at right.
I have been sitting with the schools during this week (when I wasn’t busy judging Innovative teachers projects – more on that later!) In addition to lots of discussion with the other 29 new Pathfinder schools and the 12 Mentor schools, they have heard from experts from Cambridge Education and the Anywhere Anytime Learning Foundation (on creating a vision for change), from the International Society for Technology in Education and the Re-Inventing Schools Coalition (on system change vs incremental change in education) and from Microsoft and others (on developing innovations in business and education).
Today we’re all lucky enough to get to hear from Jean-Francois Rischard, former president of the World Bank and author of High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them. I had the chance to speak with him last night at a technology fair for all Forum attendees, and I can’t wait to hear what he has to share with us later today.
Tonight, of course, is the gala dinner. Stuart and I will blog later with the results. Fingers crossed for our teachers!
After many hours of travel, Stuart and I, our innovative Teachers Ollie and Mandeep and our new Innovative Schools from Scotland arrived in beautiful Salvador, Brasil. We were particularly excited about this year’s Innovative Education Forum, as it combines the best teachers from around the world, sharing practice and collaborating together, with schools from 30 countries who are participating in Microsoft’s Innovative Schools programme (more about that next week). It’s exciting, inspiring and a bit overwhelming and humbling to be spending the week with such amazing educators from all over the world.
The week’s festivities began with Monday night’s opening reception right on the waterfront, featuring young Brasilians singing, dancing, doing incredible acrobatics and playing drums loud enough to change the rhythm of your heartbeat. The schools started workshops right away, and the teachers had a little extra time to arrive and set up their Virtual Classroom Tours for the exhibition.
On Tuesday morning, the schools and teachers combined for the opening keynotes from the Governor of the Brasilian state of Bahia and from Microsoft’s Vice President Michael Golden, who runs our education products group. Michael had some exciting demos of current and not-yet-released products that any teacher can use in their teaching. We were all pretty impressed – even Stuart and I had not seen some of these demos yet.
But we couldn’t come all the way to Brasil and not bring something back for you! During Michael’s keynote, he also announced the launch of the new Partners in Learning Network. You’ll know this as the Innovative Teachers Network that we talk about all the time, but with a new name, a new look, and loads of new features and functionality to make connecting with teachers, resources and communities a whole lot easier.
The UK is one of the first handful of countries around the world to get the new Partners in Learning Network, largely due to the success of our Innovative Teachers Network. Stuart and I will be writing several new blog posts in the coming days and weeks to help you uncover the new features of the site, which now enables you to connect with teachers, schools and communities in any of the other Partners in Learning Networks around the world. But for now, I just want to introduce you to some basics.
Look for more blogs from Stuart and me about the Partners in Learning Network when we’ve finally returned home from Brasil. And wish our Innovative Teachers Mandeep and Ollie good luck as they face some really tough competition at the Innovative Education Forum this week!
Next week is an important one for Microsoft education – and for some teachers and schools in the UK. It’s our biggest event for worldwide teachers and schools: the Innovative Education Forum.
Last year, we wrote about this event when we brought two English teachers, Peter and Dan, to Hong Kong. This year, the event has changed slightly to include both teachers and the new schools that are a par of our Innovative Schools Programme around the world (hence the change to the Innovative Education Forum rather than the Innovative Teachers Forum).
We’re expecting over 350 attendees to the Forum, to be held in gorgeous Salvador, Brazil. Teachers will be able to meet other award-winning innovative teachers from all over the world, and will attend workshops and listen to keynotes by education experts and practitioners (including our own Stuart!). They will tour the cultural and historical wonders of the city and area while they work to create learning resources with a team of other educators. And the week will end with a gala dinner that celebrates the week of fun and hard work and honours the most practice presented at the gathering.
Does this sound like something you’d like to be involved in? Do you wish you were going with Stuart and me to Brazil?
This could be you next year – if you enter your VCT for this year’s UK Innovative Teachers Forum! (Find entry details in last week’s blog post or on the UK Innovative Teachers Network.)
Last year, Ollie Bray and Mandeep Atwal entered their incredible work in the UK Innovative Teachers Forum. They came to our event in Reading, and were selected (along with James Kent and Chris Henderson) to join us at the European Innovative Teachers Forum in Vienna. There, both were honoured with awards and an invitation to present in Brazil. If you had asked either of them whether they thought they’d be going to Brazil when they originally submitted their VCTs, I know they would have said “no.” Just look where they are today.
As Stuart’s blogs have mentioned, this year’s UK Forum is sure to be the best – and certainly the largest – yet. We have some amazing workshops lined up, and the registrations and VCTs are already coming in. Don’t wait until it’s too late – register and submit your VCT today, and you could be travelling the world with Microsoft next year.
The 6th Microsoft UK Innovative Teachers Forum, will be held on 1st December 2009 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Birmingham. For the time first in this event, we are working in partnership with Shireland Learning and the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust to bring you what we think will be the best event ever.
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.
Registration for the conference is now open. You can register at this link
(or paste this URL into your browser to register at http://itndownloads.com/itfreg/default.htm)
Key note Speaker – John Davitt – www.newtools.org
Attendees are able to choose two from these four workshops to attend.
Workshop 1 New tools for Learning Workshop - John Davitt
Workshop 2 Learning with creative technologies – Dave Garland from saltash.net Community School & Stuart Ball from Microsoft
Workshop 3 Building an effective Learning Gateway with connected and collaborative learners and teachers – Mike Herrity from Twynham School
Workshop 4 Using a mosaic of technologies to support the delivery of a new Year 7 Curriculum Structure, includes Microsoft Surface – Shireland Learning
All conference attendees will receive a free copy of John Davitt’s book,’ New tools for Learning’.
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 by joining 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.
For years, Microsoft has been running a competition for university developer and programming students called the Imagine Cup. In the Imagine Cup we challenge teams of students to find and build technology solutions to real-world issues. We encourage the world's most talented software designers, programmers, game developers, and digital media enthusiasts to tackle, head on, issues related to hunger relief, poverty, education, disease control, healthcare, the environment and other critical problems facing our world today.
Stuart and I don’t usually mention Imagine Cup to this audience, but this year things are a bit different. As the competition is open to teams of students ages 16 and older who are currently enroled in school or university, we wanted to make you all aware of this opportunity for your students.
The theme for this year’s competition is: "Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems." Here in the UK we’re working with key charities to provide students with inspiration for their entries.
If you think you have students who are exceptionally talented in the area of technology and would be interested in participating in the Imagine Cup, direct them to this link for further information, including eligibility requirements, links to the participating charities and project briefings for the problems they would like help solving, and steps to register for the Software Design Competition. http://imaginecup.com/gb/sd.aspx
As the competition brings the top talents from around the world together for this competition (the 2010 finals are in Poland), it’s a great opportunity for your students.
We are taking part in Blog action Day, this is an annual event that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day on their own blogs with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance. The organisers say this will be the largest-ever social change event on the web and describe it as ‘One day. One issue. Thousands of voices’
We wanted to share and remind you of a number of projects that are available through the Innovative Teachers network, that deal specifically with the topic of climate change.
The Climate Mystery, a free online game and alternate reality universe where students learn about climate change and issues while they try to save the world from certain disaster. Microsoft and Congin (the game creators) have published new resources to help teachers use it in your classroom.
The new teacher materials for The Climate Mystery can be found on The Teachers Toolbox Skydrive. Here you’ll find the following documentation:
Dan Roberts one of our award winning teachers, has been working with the charity Cool Earth . You can check out his adventures in the rain forests of Peru on his blog. He has also teamed up with another of our Innovative Teacher's, Ollie Bray. Together they have been promoting a number of environmental projects. Have a look at Ollie’s Blog for more details.
Cool Earth are running a great competition at moment, open to all primary school children across the UK and secondary students aged 12 and under. They want your students to design and name a new species of plant or animal that has imaginative ways of dealing with the ever increasing challenges of living in the rainforest. The winning entry will have their design illustrated by Rob Steen and will receive a copy of Flanimals signed by Ricky Gervais. The school will also receive one acre of rainforest protected in their name and Cool Earth would like to visit winning school to present the prize. Two runners up will be presented with a signed copy of Flanimals and their school will receive one acre of rainforest protected in their name.
The lesson resource pdf is titled Can you create your own organism and can be downloaded from: http://drop.io/coolearth
How to enter?
The design must be a picture of the animal, annotated with the ideas of how the species has been designed to survive. Entries will be judged on creativity and understanding of the conditions that species in the rainforest must face. Email the pictures if you are able to scan or photograph any to firstname.lastname@example.org Or post them to: Cool Earth, E16, Opie Building, Cornwall College Camborne, Trevenson Road, Redruth, Cornwall, TR15 3RD. Make sure the student’s name, age and school are on the entries and that you include the schools contact details. The closing date is the 20th November 2009. For terms & conditions please see http://www.coolearth.org/ or for more information and other resources for schools and teachers see http://www.coolearth.org/365/category/teachers-168.html
Finally we have a number of resources in the form of Virtual Classroom Tours on the Innovative Teachers Network, www.uk.innovativeteachers.com. These resources have been developed by teachers. Two great examples are:- ‘The Asian Tsunami’ where James Kent, describes how he has used technology to allow students to describe their responses to such a disaster. For Primary pupils, a team of teachers from Wales , have created a series of resources called ‘Natural World’. They used Moviemaker to support young children in their responses, ideas and thoughts about the environment. In the project children created their own 'perfect' environments and their work was photographed and a narration added. Then, without them knowing, their environments were built on by unscrupulous developers. Trees and animal homes made way for high rise Lego buildings. The three teachers recorded children's feelings to these disasters. The child’s responses are thought provoking.
If you are currently undertaking an environmental based project in your school and would like to share it with other teachers. Then why not consider entering it as a Virtual Classroom Tour into the Innovative Teacher Forum awards, details can be found in this post.
Stuart and I haven’t blogged about Microsoft’s IT Academy programme yet, although I’m not sure why not. At any rate, I’ve had two experiences recently that made me want to share this programme – and the opportunities it provides – with you.
For those of you who don’t know, the Microsoft IT Academy programme offers schools the chance to deliver Microsoft’s IT training and qualifications to your students, staff and even your wider community. The qualifications that you can deliver will help your students (or parents in your community) raise their skills to prepare for business roles, or potentially for technical employment as web developers or systems administrators.
Once you’ve signed up to be an IT Academy, the scheme includes
Even though this sounds like it might be another free birthday gift from Stuart and me, it's not; there is a membership fee to join the IT Academy programme. However, a recent meeting I attended at the SSAT was one of the things that prompted me to tell you about the IT Academy programme. Thanks to an agreement we made with the SSAT earlier this year, the cost for a specialist school to join the IT Academy is less than £600 per year. This is a great deal - especially if you factor in the cost of the MSDNAA and TechNet plus subsriptions.
As the IT Academy programme is currently offered in about 2/3 of UK colleges and universities, I wasn't sure how relevant it was to
schools until I visited Sawtry Community College in Cambridgeshire and saw their IT Academy in action. Sawtry uses the IT Academy to offer training to teachers and students at their own school, but they also use the Academy to offer trainings to other schools in the region and to parents and other adult learners in the community. It's become a great training opportunity for Sawtry. (To learn more about what Sawtry is doing with the IT Academy programme, see this case study about them.
If you'd like more information about the IT Academy programme, there's quite a bit on Microsoft's web site. It might be easier for you to just give our partner Prodigy Learning a call to explore whether this is the right opportunity for your school, and if so, how to get involved. You can email them or reach them directly on this number: 0845 3991553
We hope you find this useful for your schools.