Updated: Kildare teacher, Kathleen O'Connor and Tipperary teacher, Kate O’Connell will be both travelling to Hong Kong to represent Ireland at the 2008 Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Teacher’s Forum in November.

Kathleen, who teaches at Ballyadams Primary School in Athy, Co. Kildare will be presenting her project, which uses Lego technology and film making, to document and recreate the lives of local coal miners.

Kate, who teaches at Scoil Mhuire, Kilvemnon in Tipperary was chosen to showcase her innovative project which, using technology and digital learning, encourages primary school children to build aeroplanes.

Speaking today, Kate O’Connell said: “I was delighted to be named Microsoft’s 2008 European Innovative Teacher and I’m really looking forward to representing Ireland to compete against my peers in Hong Kong. My experience in the European competition means I have learnt a lot from my competitors’ projects. It’s great to see what people in other countries are doing to integrate digital learning in the class room and I’m sure there will be many lessons to learn again in Hong Kong.”

Kate’s project, Flying High: Exploring Aviation integrated every subject in the primary school curriculum with ICT and digital learning. The children used LEGO®to construct their own working models of aeroplanes, building hydraulic lifts to raise the planes and stimulate flight. It used the constructivist approach developed by Professor Seymour Papert of MIT and pioneered in Ireland by Dr Deirdre Butler at St. Deirdre Butler at St. Patrick’s College.

Dr. Kevin Marshall, Academic Programme Manager, Microsoft Ireland, said: “It’s great to have an Irish teacher who has been named best in Europe competing at the globally finals this year. I believe Kate has a great chance of winning the overall prize with her project and it’s amazing to have an entry from a two teacher school.

“As the world changes and the skills our children need in the work force of the future change, we need to move education to a model of 21st Century learning. Kate’s project, which brings together all the subjects in the primary curriculum is a perfect example of the innovative approach we should be taking. Digital learning must be seen as an integral part of the curriculum and a core element of our teacher training programmes.”

Marshall continued, “People can always find new and better ways of doing things, if they put their mind to it. Teachers play an important role in helping achieve that. Through the Innovative Teachers Forum, Microsoft is bringing together accomplished educators from around the world who share an enthusiasm for continual innovation in education.”

The 2008 Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Forum will take place in Hong Kong on the 3rd of November.

The 2008 Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Teacher’s Forum forum is part of Microsoft’s Partners in Learning Programme, a worldwide initiative aimed at supporting interdisciplinary work in secondary education and beyond. The goal of the event is to enhance student learning through teacher development and leadership. As part of the initiative, Microsoft collaborates with local and international experts in curriculum development and teacher training and seeks to increase access to latest computer technologies in educational institutions.

Note:

Thanks to Maria O'Connor for providing additional details on Kathleen's project.