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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com. 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.
In May, I blogged about The Climate Mystery, an online game and alternate reality universe where students learn about climate change and issues while they try to save the world from certain disaster. If you want to use this curriculum with your students in September, 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:
In addition, the new global web site for The Climate Mystery is available at www.climatemystery.com. Here you can sign up for email alerts and find more information about the game, which officially launches all around the world on 14 September.
This is a great opportunity for your students to learn about relevant environmental issues in a fun and motivational way, and we hope that the teacher materials will make participating in The Climate Mystery even easier for you and your students.
I leave Kristen alone for 5 minutes and she has had a blogging frenzy,now I need to catch up after my summer break. This is the first of a series of posts in what I hope will be an informative and constructive workshop, that you would be able to recreate with student and colleagues. As well learn how to use Deep Zoom Composer to create ideas and activities across the curriculum. I have based this post on the workshop activities I run at Innovative Teacher Events, so if you have invited us to your school, this is an idea you will be getting.
Firstly, I must explain, this is not a technical demonstration of Deep Zoom, its just how I have adapted the technology to use quickly and efficiently in the classroom and present it to teachers and students. This is how I would have done it as a classroom teacher. You will need to install the Silverlight plug-in to be able to use Deep Zoom. If you have any suggestions of what I should add or how I can improve this workshop please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
So what is Deep Zoom? This site describes Deep Zoom as “ provides the ability to interactively view high-resolution images. You can zoom in and out of images rapidly without affecting the performance of your application. “ For me, Deep Zoom is a great way for students and teachers to present and create visual stories. But, the easiest way to illustrate what Deep Zoom is about, is to show it in action.
Firstly, navigate to the Hard Rock Cafe Memorabilia site at http://memorabilia.hardrock.com/
Now, from this starting point in your demo of this autograph,which you can see in stunning detail, begin to zoom out, stopping at each section described above i.e. the models, the suits , the hard rock cafe, the stamp and the letter. You are able to explore in high detail each of these areas. As they are not just details in an image, but images embedded within one another. At this point you audience will be in awe. Especially when you explain that they are able to recreate the same effect in their own classrooms, with pupils and students. This they can do using a free application called Deep Zoom Composer. In my next workshop post, I will describe how to create your own Deep Zooms and highlight some curriculum activities around its use.
Here are some links of further examples of Deep Zooms. These have combined Deep Zoom with a Photo Mosaic creator, I will explain how to do this in my final post on this workshop.
For fans of cute dogs - LINK
For fans of cute cats – LINK
For fans of Michael Jackson - LINK
Deep Zoom Blog
From what I’ve seen visiting schools in this country, I’d say on the whole…not much. (Don’t feel bad; teachers and schools in the US trust students a lot less.)
The level trust we have for students and pupils is always made obvious when I visit other countries. Here are two examples.
Denmark: I visited the Hellerup School, a primary school outside of Copenhagen, which is set up with “home” areas for pupils
Finland: We ran a series of meetings at a school in Oulu, Finland, which is about 200km from the Arctic Circle. Our meetings took place while the school was in session, and as such we were able to enjoy the regular school dinner as our mid-day meal. First of all, this was the best school dinner I’ve ever had – before or since. Second, it was served on actual ceramic plates with actual metal utensils and glasses made of glass. No one was serving the food; pupils were allowed to take as much as they wanted and go back for seconds. They were trusted to moderate themselves, eat in a reasonable manner and not break the dishes.
And here’s an example from this country. For years, Microsoft has run a Student Help Desk initiative around the world, which helps schools set up student-run technical support centres to handle all level 1 technical support within a school. This saves schools and authorities money in support contracts, teaches students technical skills and troubleshooting and customer support skills and does wonders for the self-esteem and confidence of every student support technician I’ve ever met. Yet MOST schools in the UK want nothing to do with this programme, as teachers don’t trust the students with their computers and ICT coordinators don’t trust students with the data they might see. I’m afraid I just don’t understand.
My experiences in Finland and Denmark may seem like small things, but they’re telling examples of how the culture in Finnish and Danish education is completely different. If students feel like they are trusted and valued, they will behave differently. If we want to be serious about things like personalisation of learning for each student, WE need to behave differently.
Here’s your chance. Stuart and I have blogged in the past about Futurelab’s Enquiring Minds curriculum, which trusts students to direct their own learning. Take a look at the new podcast on Enquiring Minds from Futurelab researcher Ben Williamson. It’s a 32-minute presentation created for the BETT show, and it talks to you about the enquiry-based learning approach and how you can get started. If this is something that interests you, go to the Enquiring Minds community on the Innovative Teachers Network and look at the Enquiring Minds Guide, Professional Development resources for teachers, and loads of other resources in the community. (You can find the Student Help Desk curriculum, training and resources on the ITN as well.)
Sometimes I don’t know how I ever found any information before the Internet. Granted, you have to know how to sift through all the garbage that’s out there in order to uncover the quality resources that the Internet has to offer. This can be especially difficult in education, as there is an endless number of sites claiming to have great lesson plans or professional development resources. It’s difficult for new or novice teachers (or teachers new to teaching with ICT) to judge which resources are actually good and which are mere imposters.
To help with your planning for next year, we thought we’d provide a list of our favourite teacher web sites from the UK, US and Canada. All of these sites contain vetted, high-quality resources, even though they may not be “traditional” education sites. We hope this list both inspires you and saves you some time in your planning.
National Geographic The folks who brought you the classic magazine full of stories and photos from around the world now have a UK-specific education site with loads of lesson plan ideas, games for students and other resources for teachers.
BBC Teachers The BBC has what looks like a beta Teacher site at present, providing resources separated into subject area and Key Stages, as well as more than 3,000 clips from BBC programmes that you can use in your class.
Discovery Channel The UK version of this site is full of videos, games and videos from their “How Do They Do It?” series, where they explore things like how the stripes get into toothpaste and why plasma screens are flat. If you go to the US version of the site, you can find links to the other partner channels, such as Animal Planet, The Learning Channel (TLC), and more.
The History Channel (the last in my “television” series of recommendations) has great interactive maps, GCSE and A-level revision prep, and safe moderated discussions on different topics in history. (All posts to discussions are reviewed and approved by a moderator before they are posted to the discussion).
Edutopia is the web site for the George Lucas Education Foundation. I’ve mentioned this site in passing in another post, but you should visit or – better yet – sign up for their newsletter for more information about education discussions, lesson plan ideas, project-based learning resources, and much more. Note that this is a US-based site.
NASA (The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has a dedicated area of its site for teachers that allows you to take advantage of all of their fantastic resources in your classroom. There is also a separate area of their site for your students.
The remaining two sites I’ve mentioned in earlier, more detailed posts.
Thinkfinity is run by the Verizon education foundation in the US, and includes thousands of resources that are posted by the major education standard bodies in the US. I blogged about it last September.
Taking IT Global is a global education community for young people, focused on connecting youth all over the world who are actively working to improve their communities. The site has a great area for educators, called TIGed, which provides resources for teachers to help them use the vast resources of Taking IT Global in their classrooms. The Canadian-based site is described in detail in an earlier post.
This is just a short list of what we like – tell us what you’re using!
For our second post in this planning series, we’re talking to those of you who organise professional development workshops, twilight sessions, or inset days for other teachers in your school. If this sounds like you, read on!
In addition to writing this blog, Stuart and I are a bit of a travelling roadshow, going from school to school around England, Scotland and Wales running workshops, twilight sessions, or inset days for interested schools. During these workshops, we talk about many of the products and resources we discuss in this blog – in much more detail, of course.
The workshops are designed to inspire and offer training to those teachers who aren’t as confident using technology in their teaching. We work with all teachers, regardless of the subject they teach or their skill level. We talk about things like Photosynth, AutoCollage, Deep Zoom, Worldwide Telescope, OneNote, and the Innovative Teachers Programme and Network. We help teachers start an Innovative Teachers Network at their schools or in their authorities, in order to create and share professional development materials. And we generally have a bit of fun in the process.
If your school or authority is interested in something like this, or if you already have a professional development workshop or inset day you’d like us to participate in, let us know. We’d be happy to join you.
(Our diaries are filling up quickly – so contact us by email if you’re interested: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org)