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  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    Postcard from Brasil – and a gift for you


    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. WeP1010521 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.

    Michael Golden, CVP of Education Products Group MSFTduring keynote at WW IEF, Salvador, Bahia 2 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.Capture

    • First of all, why the name change? The Partners in Learning Network is not just about resources for teachers anymore. It includes schools from our Innovative Schools  programme, and all of the resources, trainings, self-assessments and other professional development and communities we make available to them. It also includes some of our other Partners in Learning programmes, such as leadership and other trainings, that any educator can now access. The URL is also different: but our old URL will redirect to this site for quite some time.


    • There’s a new log-in? We’ve changed the username and password requirements for the Partners in Learning Network from being unique to this site only, as was the case with the ITN, to being a Windows Live ID. Not only does this provide an added level of security, but it also enables you to use an existing ID, or to create a new ID for the Partners in Learning Network that you can use for lots of other properties on the internet.

    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!

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    Microsoft Worldwide Education Forum, Brazil – This could be you next year!


    clip_image002Next 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.

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    Connecting Learners, Connecting Teachers – UK Innovative Teachers Forum



    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

    Event Details

    Key note Speaker – John image

    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 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

    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.

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    Challenge your 16+ students to think big – the Imagine Cup


    logo 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. 

    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.

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    Blog Action Day 2009 – Climate Change



    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:

    • CMA teachers’ guide that introduces you to all of the available materials and gives you an idea of the time you’ll need to allocate to run the programme as well as technical requirements, classroom setup, suggested discussion topics and assessments and loads of other useful information.
    • The Climate Mystery Manual, a user guide for students that helps them work through the web site and navigate the different episodes of the mystery.
    • A curriculum mapping document that helps you map The Climate Mystery to your own national curriculum and standards.
    • Episode guides for all 16 episodes.

    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 onI am presented with Turtle shell & Monkey voice box 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.

    coolearth competition The lesson resource pdf is titled Can you create your own organism and can be downloaded from:

    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 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 or for more information and other resources for schools and teachers see

    Finally we have a number of resources in the form of Virtual Classroom Tours on the Innovative Teachers Network, 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.

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    ICT training for your school with Microsoft IT Academy


    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 image 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

    • Free Microsoft eLearning (over 300 courses)
    • Free Microsoft software licences
    • Massive discounts on Microsoft Certifications and Courseware
    • Free MSDNAA and TechNet Plus subscription
    • Free Microsoft Certified Trainer Membership

    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. 

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    Free Resources - Video ideas to help your teaching and learning


    During this Summer, we held a unique event for us, the first Innovative Teachers Summer Camp, where we invited 10 of our innovative teachers to develop some classroomvid1   resources. Their task was to begin creating short, 3-5 minute videos, to support teachers and educators in the use of technology in the classroom.

    We call these videos 'InnoVIDS' because they are videos from our Innovative teachers. (Get it?!)

    Our team of teachers have produced the first 10 videos, all of which deal with features of Office 2007 and how teachers and students use Word, Excel and PowerPoint in the classroom. Kristen and I were amazed at the features teachers were using, as many were not the obvious ones we had thought of and some we had never realised existed in these applications.

    To give you a little taster of what these InnoVIDS can offer, I am posting the links to the first five in this list, as our final birthday present of the month! The remainder of the videos -- and any new videos (which we'll post in the coming weeks) -- can be found in this feature on the UK Innovative teachers Network.

    Video Title


    File size

    Using 3D surface Charts in Excel

    Using surface charts to create 3D models of landscapes from contour data from maps.


    Using the Math Add-in in Word

    Using the Maths Add-in to solve and visualise equations.


    Using PowerPoint to make comic books

    Creating comic books using the features of PowerPoint.


    Using Goal Seek in Excel

    Using the Goal Seek feature to solve and model data relationships.


    Using the Research function in Word

    How the research functions can be used to gather information more effectively.


    Using SmartArt in Word

    How the SmartArt feature in Word can be used to support science learning

    available on UK ITN

    Using text features in Word

    How the various text formatting features can be used to analyse a piece of text in English.

    available on UK ITN

    Using the Action Button features of PowerPoint

    How to use the action buttons and hyperlinks to control the activity of a PowerPoint document.

    available on UK ITN

    Using Plex for PowerPoint

    How the Plex add-in for PowerPoint can be used to support learning.

    available on UK ITN

    Using Excel to tell stories

    How to use Excel to structure data to tell a story.

    available on UK ITN

    We will publishing more videos each month on the Innovative Teachers Network, so check the blog and the ITN often for new updates. If you have any suggestions for an area we should cover with an InnoVID, please let us know. You can email your suggestions to

    We hope you'll find these videos - and all of the other birthday gifts we've provided this month - useful. Let us know how you're using them in your teaching!


  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    Innovative Teachers can inspire anyone, anywhere.


    We have talked a lot about Dan Roberts, one of our award winners from the Worldwide Innovative Teachers Forum in Hong Kong. He is still very much an active Gentle Giant with Huge Smilemember of the Innovative Teachers programme, and Kristen and I are in contact with him and his school on a regular basis. He has just returned from a unique experience, in which visited the rainforests of Peru, as a guest of the the charity Cool Earth. You can read the full story of Dan’s adventure on his blog.

    I have read Dan’s experiences of the schools he visited and I was struck by the fact that these schools had some unique difficulties and it was the innovation and commitment of the teachers that found solutions to benefit their students.

    …… extracts from Dan’s blog

    The primary school was on the site of an old missionary post that still has a tiny very basic clinic; we were told of an amazing story about the founder of the mission who helped the Ashaninka, the are an indigenous people living in the rainforests of Peru, fight off the Shining Path, a Maoist guerrilla organization, years before.

    As we walked there it was very hot and as we arrived we reached for the shade and were once again given an extremely warm welcome from the teachers and students. Have a look at the video below of the Headteacher and some of the children performing. (You may be able to see what he is wearing round his neck which was given to me as a gift)

    It was raining quite heavily and we were supposed to be visiting the local school in Tinkerani however no one seemed to be in any hurry due to the rain so we sat round and had a leisurely breakfast. We then had a great excuse to spend some more time with the children in the village which was fantastic – Emily (another teacher ) had brought some plasticine which the kids absolutely loved! I also brought them some balloons which really did go down a storm, we saw them playing with these balloons 2 days later still when we left!

    The rain stopped and we packed up and headed over to the local school. The school was a small primary school with a few classrooms, in fact the nearest secondary school to the village was actually the one we had visited in Cuti which was a two hour walk away from where we were. It was fabulous to spend some more time with the children in the village as we watched their performances and saw them learning in the classroom. When we spoke to the teachers they also had a fantastic idea of creating a fish farm at the school on the river so that they could actually use the fish for food as often the kids may not have any food some days and so are hungry.

    I am presented with Turtle shell & Monkey voice boxThe local headteacher of the primary school presented me with two gifts, this was an absolute honour and I was really touched. I was presented with two things I could wear round my neck, the first was a turtle’s shell which represented strength and to reflect I was a powerful man and the second a little bit more unusual was the voice box of a howler monkey which represented that I commanded many voices. I was then also told why everyone laughed at me which was because I was a gentle giant with a big smile which was one of the nicest things anyone has said about me.

    This was a life time opportunity to learn from the Ashaninka people about the challenges they have to face living within their environment and it was truly an honour to be welcomed and accepted within their community. What Cool Earth is doing is without doubt making a massive difference to the Ashaninka and also the entire world.

    You can find out more about the work of Cool Earth on their website

  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    Free Creative Writing Software for young pupils - Kar2ouche


    My wife teaches 4 year olds, so I am always under pressure to deliverkar2 ideas for that age group through my work with the Innovative Teachers programme. Some may call this nagging, but she assures me that I'm not being treated any differently than any other husband. I think I will definitely be in her good books this week.

    I am really pleased to announce our third birthday blog gift for you, our readers. We have teamed up with the award-winning team at Immersive Education who are kindly offering one of their Kar2ouche packages, completely free to members of the Innovative Teachers Network.

    Kar2ouche uses creative role play, picture making, storyboarding and animation to support pupils' learning. There are over 50 packages in the series. Through this blog and the Innovative Teachers network, you are able to access for free, the full version of Creative Writing – English Literacy for early years/Key stage 1/Foundation phase.

    To download this great resource you will need to be a member of the Innovative Teachers Network (which is free to join) and navigate to the Immersive Education – Creative Writing Community (you will find it listed on the Welcome page and as a link in the feature articles). Although you will be able to view the community, you will not be able to access the download links until you click Join the Community. When you do, you will receive an email from the guys at Kar2ouche, giving you access to the community and download links. Please be aware that the download is 300mb, but I can tell you that it's well worth the wait.

    Why not let us know how you are using this software with your pupils? Better still, why not document your use of Kar2ouche as a Virtual Classroom Tour and enter it into the Innovative Teachers Awards?

    We hope you and your pupils enjoy this free software. Remember to check back with the Kar2ouche community, or simply set the Alerts feature, so that if new free titles are added in the future, you will be notified.

    Here is some information from Immersive Education describing the great activities you can undertake with this software.

    Creative Writing Summary: KS1 English Literacy

    Creative Writing provides examples of just some of the ways Kar2ouche can be used to enhance your students’ learning through visualisation, discussion, speculation and exploration. It links closely with the National Curriculum and the National Literacy Strategy as well as the Early Learning Goals for the Foundation Stage. In addition, lesson suggestions incorporate activities that can be used to develop ICT capabilities and could also be used to complement PSHE teaching. All of the activities are cross-referenced with the relevant attainment targets for English, ICT and PSHE from the National Curriculum for Key Stage 1, the National Literacy Strategy and, where appropriate, the Foundation Stage Early Learning Goals. The activities also link with ideas suggested in Developing Early Writing (DfEE 2001).

    The four units are:

    Unit 1 The Three Little Pigs: Contains 3 activities based on the story of The Three Little Pigs for reception classes. The focus is on sequencing aspects of the story and retelling.

    Unit 2 Cinderella 1: Has 5 activities and uses Cinderella as the focus for Year 1 and takes students through elements of planning stories, plot and character.

    Unit 3 Cinderella 2: Contains 3 activities and focuses on Cinderella, but here Year 2 look at retellings from different cultures.

    Unit 4 Familiar Settings: Has 3 activities for Years 1 and 2 and looks at story-writing in everyday settings.

    Stay tuned to this blog and the Innovative Teachers Network for your next FREE birthday gift as we continue our September of giving!


  • Microsoft Teacher's Blog

    The Climate Mystery: It begins!


    It’s official: The Climate Mystery has begun. Check out this trailer for the adventure, and share it with your students!


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