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  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    UK Partners in Learning YouTube Channel launched


    Over the past year, the work we have undertaken with teachers and schools has resulted in us creating and collecting a plethora of video resources. We imagewanted to make sure that we are able share these with as many of you as possible. So we have created our very own YouTube Channel. The UK Partners in Learning Channel is a ‘one stop shop’ to access all the digital media that we use and have created through the UK Partners in Learning Network to support teachers and schools. The content we currently have includes:

    • All the Innovids, created by teachers for by teachers. These give practical advice and guidance on how to use a range of Microsoft applications to support learning and teaching. These are ideal CPD resources to develop your own skills or to use with others in training sessions.
    • Parental Engagement case studies, these explore how five different schools have used technology successfully to engage parents in their children’s learning.
    • Innovative Teachers Programme videos, in which community school describe how the Innovative Teachers programme and Peer Coaching have played an important role in their school transformation jpurney.

    We have also created a favourites section, where we have bookmarked videos Kristen and I have used in presentations and workshops, and those that we have seen that have inspired us.

    There are a number of playlists so that you are able to find videos around a particular subject such as Parental Engagement and using Excel across the curriculum. Clicking on the title of these playlists gives you an URL which you can place on your school portal or blog, giving easy access to these resources.

    You can also subscribe to the channel , this means that when we post some new resources you will get an email telling you about them. You are also able to leave leave comments, we would love hear what you have to say or questions you have about the videos and even comments about which video resources you would like to see and find useful. So tune in to the UK Partners in Learning Channel and access a bank of resources that can play an important part in the professional development of yourself, colleagues, staff and school.

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    Free Tools for Teaching – from Microsoft


    static_160x600_freetools We were thrilled to see an email from our colleagues at Microsoft headquarters recently that contained a link to all sorts of free guides, videos, templates and other tools to help you use technology in your teaching. Just go to and you’ll find a wealth of resources on these topics:

    Digital Storytelling: New resources created by our colleagues in the US that include teacher-created templates and links to tools to help you create activities around storytelling for your students.

    Free Tools: Links to downloads of free software and ideas of how you might use it in your teaching

    Microsoft Office: Tutorials, a guide and other materials that help you make the most of Office.

    Windows 7: Cool shortcuts and other features of Windows 7 that might make your life a little easier (several of the tips and tricks here help me every day)

    Windows MovieMaker: The tried and trusted tool that many of you have used for years with your learners already.


    Some of the materials will look a bit familiar to you here, as Stuart has already blogged about part of the digital storytelling resources and we’ve talked about a lot of the “free tools” already in this blog. But it’s worth your while to check out the rest – you might just find something that will help you with your lesson planning next week (or next lesson, as the case may be…).

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    Tune in to Science TV


    Those of you who are old enough may remember school science broadcasts, where you sat with the whole class, (often a number of classes) waiting patiently for the countdown to the programme start to tick away, whilst some very ‘cheesy’ music played as accompaniment. Not something that would really inspire you to take an interest in science. Check out this video to see what I mean. (Yes, television in schools was really this bad.)

    But, thankfully things are now very different. We have been talking to the guys at Science TV, whose mission it is to connect schools with real science via interactive digital media. Their website and professional development programme aims to take science from the cutting edge, from Universities, industry, from the field, the kitchen and mash it up so it’s fit for use in education. This they do by producing high quality video productions, created by award winning filmmakers and leading scientists.

    The Science TV site currently has a selection of videos that can you can access from the site or from Science TV’s YouTube Channel , where you can find a range of videos filmed at the The Times Cheltenham Science Festival 2009 , covering ideas from ‘How Movie explosions work’ to ‘Anatomical Body Painting’.

    image But, Science TV is not just another online video library. They run a series of workshops, where they work with a school , linking scientists and high end filmmaking techniques. Allowing students to explore scientific concepts and create a video of their thoughts and findings.


    The quality of the finished material is outstanding. Not only does process create fantastic learning opportunities. But, the completed video becomes a valuable teaching and learning resource in itself. Check out this example to see for yourself. Here students from Bristol, discuss the concept of genetically engineering a Woolly mammoth. If you are interested in getting the Science TV team into your school to create something similar, then they can be contacted via their website.

    Science TV are currently working on number of CPD materials which will be available free to schools, to support teachers using these video resources in the classroom. We hope to be able to have some of those resources on the Partners in Learning Network very shortly. But, in the meantime check out Science TV and inspire your students.

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    New and easy ways to integrate Office with your Moodle learning platform


    Does your school or local authority have a Moodle learning platform? (If you don’t know, find out!) If so, the Microsoft Education Labs team have just launched the Office Add-in for Moodle, which might make your lives a little easier. This launch builds upon the success of the availability of the Microsoft Live Services Plug-in for Moodle which launched last July. 

    The idea behind the add-in is simple. Now, when you  Open or Save a file in Office 2003 or 2007, you can select to Open from Moodle or Save to Moodle directly. How does this help you? For a start, it will make it easier for you to transfer your files to your school’s learning platform directly from within Word or PowerPoint (or other Office applications). This saves you having to save the file to your computer and start a separate upload or download process. (If you have a SharePoint-based learning platform, you get similar functionality in Office 2010).

    Full details for installing and using the add-in are below. Let us know what you think!

    View Slide ShowUploading files to Moodle is now much easier.  The Office Add-in for Moodle (OAM) is an add-in for Microsoft Office (versions 2003 and 2007) that allows you to open and save Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents to a Moodle website. Today, when you use Office and Moodle, you have to switch back and forth between your web browser and Office applications.  With the OAM, you can create, open, edit, and save Moodle documents from within the Office applications.  You no longer need to use your web browser when working with Office documents stored in Moodle.

    So what do you need in order to start using the add-in?  OAM does not require anything to be installed on the Moodle server (note that this has been tested against Moodle versions 1.8-1.9).  Anyone who is the teacher or owner of a Moodle course can install the add-in and access their documents.  Once installed, the add-in adds two menu items to your File menu (Office 2003) or the Office Button menu: Open from Moodle and Save to Moodle.  In order to browse course files on your Moodle you will need to first tell the add-in the address of your Moodle and the credentials you use to log in.  Once added you can view the list of courses you are enrolled in.  Naturally, students and others can access the content directly from Moodle as they normally would.

    The Education Labs team focused on teachers and content specialists first, since we know most documents posted to Moodle comes from you. We’ve gotten some requests already about adding support for students and assignments, but we want to hear from you.  So check it out, and let the EducationLabs team know what you think and if there’s anything you want them to work on. 

    It’s worth browsing on the Education Labs site for other projects recently released

    imageFind out more about, and download, the free Moodle add-in

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    Prepare for Earth Day with your students - The 40-Day Low Carbon Lunch Challenge


    Did you know that the food system is responsible for approximately 1/3 of global greenhouse gases?  Our friends at TakingITGlobal, a non-profit community  for young people around the world have come up with a great Earth Day initiative to reduce your carbon footprint and take a bite out of climate change, starting with your lunch.  Commit to packing a Low Carbon Lunch for 40 days, from Earth Day, 22 April, to 1 June, and see what a big difference small changes can make! 

    Capture TakingITGlobal (TIG), the world’s most popular online community for young leaders, empowers youth around the world to take action on global issues, through social media and technology.  The 40-Day Low Carbon Lunch Challenge is part of Tread Lightly, a free, climate change education and youth engagement initiative developed by TIG.

    Tread Lightly provides innovative tools and resources to educators seeking to engage high school students in interactive, climate education, including: lesson plans; a themed virtual classroom; an international climate art contest; and the 40-Day Challenge

    Here’s how schools can participate in the 40-Day Low Carbon Lunch Challenge:

    1) Commit to taking the 40-Day Low Carbon Lunch Challenge.

    2) Access the Tread Lightly Low Carbon Lunch lesson plan for resources and activity ideas.

    3) Create a free Tread Lightly virtual classroom to engage students in the Low Carbon Lunch challenge online, in a private, secure, advertising-free environment.  

    4) Encourage students to participate in the 40-Day Challenge. Ask them to share their Low Carbon Lunch tips in the virtual classroom, and to document their progress by posting food blogs and photos in the student writing and photo galleries.  

    For more information on Tread Lightly, visit:


  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    Accessibility guide for teachers


    clip_image001We’ve just issued the third edition of our accessibility guide for teachers, and it’s available as a download from our accessibility site. The site also includes a number of accessibility video case studies.

    The Accessibility: A Guide for Educators has been updated to include information on Windows 7 accessibility features, and current assistive technology product recommendations for teachers

    This guide provides information about accessibility and accessible technology to help teachers ensure that all students have equal access to learning with technology, specifically:

    • An understanding of accessibility and how it impacts the classroom
    • Definitions of impairment types and technology solutions for each type of impairment
    • Guidance on choosing accessible technology solutions
    • Resources for more information

    imageDownload the Accessibility Guide for Teachers

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    More success for UK educators at Berlin Innovative Education Forum 2010


    We’re all back from Berlin, in spite of the BA strikes over the weekend. Once again we had a great week – I always wish that every teacher I work with could accompany us to these Innovative Education Forums. The speakers this year were particularly inspiring, there were some useful workshops for teachers, and we even had the opportunity to tour some German schools.

    The highlight for me this year was a keynote by Professor Sugata Mitra, of Newcastle. His “Hole in the Wall” project described 10 years of his research

    that shows the capacity of kids in the slums of India (or indeed, kids anywhere) to teach themselves. He started with one computer, put literally into a hole in the wall in an Indian slum. He left the computer and came back months later, only to see that the kids had not only organised a system for sharing use of the computer (actually, the girls had organised this), but they had taught themselves how to use the computer and how to read the English user interface and English web sites. And they wanted more.

    This was one of the most inspirational talks I’ve seen in years. You can catch a version of it on TED here. Our teachers all left the talk thinking about how Professor Mitra’s talk would impact their teaching immediately.

    All four of our UK teachers (whose projects are described in blog posts HERE and HERE), impressed us with the time and effort they put into their stands and presentations in Berlin. We saw some great work from other teachers around Europe as well – Sweden, Belgium and Northern Ireland all brought virtual classroom tours that particularly impressed us – and the judges.

    At our gala dinner, we were extremely proud to have two of our teachers honoured with prizes. Jan Webb (below, right) received first prize in the Innovation in Collaboration category, and Simon Horleston (below, left) won third prize in the Innovation in Community category. As such, both will be accompanying us to the Worldwide Innovative Education Forum in Capetown, South Africa in October!

    P1010697            P1010699

    We’re extremely proud of all of the teachers we brought to Berlin, and we’re excited to meet a new group of teachers at our next Innovative Education Forum in the UK this autumn. Stay tuned for more information about your chance to attend that event, as we’ve already started planning it. It will be the lead-in to our next European Forum, in Moscow, this time next year!

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    Mouse Mischief – make your presentations even more interactive.


    A while ago I blogged about PowerPoint and highlighted some of the great resources that are available, such as Plex for PowerPoint for example. That gives  image   teachers and students absolutely no excuse to create boring and dull presentations and not to avoid the ‘death by PowerPoint’ scenario.

    Here is something that I think will be really useful in the classroom and add another dimension to your PowerPoint 2007 slides. It’s only in beta at the moment, but there's already a Mouse Mischief website page available, and that's where the free fully released version will appear shortly. With Mouse Mischief, teachers can add multiple choice questions to presentations. It also utilises multipoint technology, which means that groups of students can answer the questions using mice connected to the presentation PC.

    Mouse Mischief  provides teachers with a cost effective alternative to purchasing expensive student response systems. With a couple of USB hubs and inexpensive wired or wireless Mice (I suspect you have a few in cupboards doing nothing), your class can interact with the presentation. Here is a thought, I have not tested this. But, some mobile phones have a presenter mode, and can connect to a PC via Bluetooth. I wonder if that could be used as an alternative wireless mouse? If anybody is able to do this can you let us know. It would mean that students could use their mobile phones to interact with presentations.

    Mischief Is this a pyramidOnce installed, the Mouse Mischief toolbar will appear as part of the PowerPoint ribbon. This allows you to create interactive elements such as multiple-choice question slides. These can even be added to previously created presentations. With a Mouse Mischief enabled presentation, students in the classroom can answer each question by clicking it with their uniquely designed mouse cursor. Once they have selected their answers, the teacher can display the correct answer and evaluate the responses. Also teachers have the option to allow students to answer questions individually or as part of a team, this will encourage both competition and collaboration in the classroom.

    Mischief Find the cubeControlling what could be potentially chaos with 25 mouse cursors zooming around the screen is easy, as a set of teacher controls allow the teacher to disable mouse cursors, navigate between slides and set timers.




    The obvious use for this is to create multiple choice questions and test students knowledge of subject. But, I think it has immense value, by asking the right questions, in gathering real time data from students, such as opinions, lesson evaluations and self review of their learning. For, the really brave, even as an evaluation of your teaching.

    As Mouse Mischief is only in beta at the moment, only multiple choice questions can be created, future updates will include multipoint drawing tools, that will enable teachers to create a  wealth of further learning opportunities for students.

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    It’s written in the stars – new resources for Worldwide Telescope


    image Do you believe in the idea that our futures and personalities are governed by Zodiac star signs. Here is an example, which one of these do you think describes myself and Kristen, are you able to identify our personality traits from just our blog posts? (or even from the occasions where you may have met us?)

    Person A  is smooth, airy and unemotional, almost invisible. However if the balance is upset by difficult circumstances they can swing between emotional extremes. They desire popularity, are narcissist, charitable and neat. They dress up for the occasion. they are a slight perfectionist, can be bossy at times. They plan ahead, have attention to detail. They love public service and art.


    Person B has lots of emotional energy and can be both sensitive and generous. But, there can be lots of tough self-assertiveness.They are hard on the outside but soft in the middle. They have a profound energy that can be hard to direct efficiently in day-to-day situations. They steady, creative and kind. They can have a ferocious temper. They are determined, generous and reliable. But can be stubborn, lazy and possessive.


    Whether star signs work for you or not doesn’t really matter , what does is that learning about the Universe, Solar system and constellations is a rich source of learning opportunities for pupils and students. One of the best resources for this is Worldwide Wide Telescope, a free application from Microsoft Research, that enables your computer to function as a virtual telescope, bringing together imagery from the best ground and space-based telescopes in the world.

    So I wanted to share with you a great resource produced in english by our German Partners in Learning colleagues. Star Catcher is a comprehensive teacher resource pack, full of information and activities to teach and learn about star constellations. This includes the stories behind constellations that make up the signs of the zodiac, making it a great accompaniment for Worldwide Telescope, as pupils and students can discover and explore fantastic imagery of these celestial bodies.image

    Even though this virtual telescope is a great resource, I think it is always a good idea to get your pupils and students to  look at the night sky for real. but being able to make out and identify features of the night sky can be difficult. So if you are able to give them a ‘map’ of the night sky, they would be able to do this a lot easier. You can now do this as Bing Maps and Worldwide Telescope have an application that will create a star map of the night sky from any location that you choose. Firstly, click on this link , this will take you to a Bing maps page, type in a location. Next, once the location has been found, click the ‘Map Apps’ button at the bottom of the page. You will be presented with a list of various apps , some of which at the moment only work in the U.S. Select the Worldwide Telescope App. You will see a button appear called ‘Start here’. Click this and your mouse cursor will change to a ‘virtual telescope’. Use this to select a location on your map and creating a ‘sky map’ in real time. By dragging your mouse cursor across the date and time, you can create a sky map of when you want your class to make their observations. Because, they will be able to access Worldwide Telescope at home it means they can support their observations with the incredible images it uses. It is also very useful, as when I set this activity as homework, the weather changed and inevitably the sky was cloudy.

    With these free resources, I think what is written in the stars are some great learning opportunities. Have fun exploring.

    In case you are still wondering, Kristen is Person A and I am Person B

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    Meet the Innovative Teachers coming to Berlin – Part 2


    In Monday’s blog post, I introduced you to the first half of our all-star team of teachers coming to this year’s Innovative Education Forum in Berlin. I hope you’ll take a look at Amy and Jan’s work in more detail on the Partners in Learning Network.

    Today I’d like to introduce you to David Rogers, who teaches geography at Priory School Specialist Sports College in Portsmouth, and Simon Horleston, who teaches at Howe Dell Primary School in Hertfordshire. Both Dave and Simon have technology-rich projects, but both of their virtual classroom tours call out the importance of student voice and learning – and using technology only as a tool to support that.


    David Rogers – Pirates and Social Networking

    _DSC_0528 David’s lesson introduces students to the concept of 21st century piracy and helps them put it into a context that is relevant to their world. Students begin by learning about piracy in the Gulf of Aden and how it affects consumers in the UK. They search for images and geographical information using Bing and connected to clip_image002resources on the BBC to learn more about piracy today.

    Students present their findings to others in the class, which may be typical in many classroom projects today, but David uses social media, including live feeds and discussions in Twitter and Facebook, to focus on effective – and safe and appropriate - online communication.

    If you take a look at David’s VCT on the Partners in Learning Network, you can find much more information about the project, including blogs describing the work as well as BBC articles and Teachers TV stories that were done on the project.


    Simon Horleston – Climate Change Challenge

    _DSC_0535 Simon’s lesson is for upper KS2 pupils, and takes advantage of his schools unique environmental curriculum and focus to enthuse his pupils into taking responsibility for their world. Pupils used different forms of ICT to communicate their learning to others.

    Simon put the world’s climate change and temperature differences in context by first getting pupils to measureimage the light and temperature differences in various areas of the school. This data, plus the results of pupils research into the climate on different continents gave rise to the central question for the project “Globally our climate is changing, but how is this happening and what is its impact?”

    Pupils conducted research on the internet and chose their specific area of focus. They analysed data on energy usage and wrote a story that included their key messages on climate change. They created short movies and used other methods to present this message to the rest of the school and to the community – as well as to the International Climate Challenge conference in London.


    Stuart and I are excited for Simon, David, Jan and Amy to share their work in Berlin in only a week’s time. Joining the Microsoft team in Berlin will also be Ollie Bray, who has been asked to conduct a workshop on Kodu (an exciting new visual programming language young people can use to create games) and using games in learning. Dave Garland from Saltash .NET will also be joining our team as a judge.

    We hope you’ll follow our activities next week on this blog, and we also hope you’ll visit the Partners in Learning Network to learn more about the great work happening in schools around the UK.

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