Originally posted on the Daily Edventures blog.
Each Wednesday here at Daily Edventures, we are sharing real stories about teachers using Windows 8 to transform learning. While a holistic approach to education reform is needed and technology is only a piece of that puzzle, the potential for innovations such as Windows 8 to transform education is clear.
Today, I’m thrilled to share the story of Charlotte Beckhurst and her classroom in London. Her first-year students are using Windows 8 in amazingly creative ways, taking full advantage of the most universal platform Microsoft has ever offered. “My students are using current devices and technologies regularly in the classroom,” says Beckhurst. “We were the first primary school in the UK to be using Windows 8, and as a result have been using a range of Win8 apps to support children’s cross-curricular learning. Last term, the students wrote a book, ‘Journey Around London,’ and used a variety of Win8 apps to learn and research about London, to communicate and to write the book.”
Beckhurst has recently been named a Microsoft Expert Educator (MEE). She writes a blog, ChicMeek, where she shares her adventures as a new MEE, along with her experiences with Partners in Learning. For Beckhurst, technology in the classroom is a given, and she is willing to try new platforms and apps, as long as they benefit her students’ learning. “We have also just begun using Office 365 as a tool for collaborative learning and the students are able to document their learning in our topic for this half term, ‘Artists We Love,’” says Beckhurst. “I am able to assess their learning, and mark and provide feedback for each student, all in the same place. Not only is 365 proving to be great for the students’ learning, it is a great organizational tool for teachers.”
Here is today’s Daily Edventure with Charlotte Beckhurst.
What drew you to the field of education? Why is it important to you?
I got into teaching because I wanted to work in Human Resources and training, which is where I began. Years ago, one route to be a trainer was to teach first. I then never returned to the corporate world and ended up working in schools, for local government and educational organizations. I love working with people and working in an industry where I can learn and develop from other people at the same time as teaching or training them. If you work hard, you will always get back what you put in and be able to develop along the way. I find I am on a constant learning and developing path.
Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education?
There are quite a few. Even at junior school, I used to write letters to a couple of teachers when they left. These were teachers who showed an interest in me and who challenged me, setting goals to work towards, and teachers who showed a glimpse inside their own lives so you felt you knew them more than just as a teacher.
Please describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education. What has changed as a result of your work?
I always try to think out of the box. I like to be creative and want the students to get excited about their learning. I used to work for an International Primary Curriculum school and as part of my role as the IPC Lead, I was able to develop exciting cross-curricular topic planning which gave children a purpose to their learning. If students are eager to learn and have a purpose, you see an improvement in other areas. Around two-thirds of my class don’t have computers at home and therefore we are providing them with opportunities, which are improving their skills for the future.
In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?
The synergy between technology and education. As educators are more confident and comfortable with using technology themselves, there seems to be creative teaching using different technologies. And as the world of programming is opening up and becoming more accessible with new software, like Kodu for example, children are able to create their own apps to use in their learning. I am super excited to see what that looks like in ten and even five years time.
Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?
For my year one students, they are still learning the skill of collaboration, thinking about how to take turns, how to share ideas, how to compromise and to listen to other ideas. Therefore I would have to choose collaboration, although I love creativity. Technology is a great tool to develop and encourage collaboration and at the same time, coming up with new ideas together with the students about how to use the technology and what they do with it, often surprises me.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
I want to say a teacher, but with Dr. Sugatra Mitra’s Hole in the Wall project, we have really been forced to think about this. So I think I am going to say a pencil and to be able to write.
What is your country doing well currently to support education?
Schools are beginning to think outside the box. With the growth of Free Schools, like mine, and academies, schools are able to come up with more innovative and creative ways to educate the children of the future.
How must education change in your country to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?
All schools need to keep up to date with trends in technology and education, make sure the technology is accessible for the students and ensure that each school has its own or access to a professional learning community to develop and build capacity amongst the staff. Working together with Microsoft and Partners in Learning has made me realize how many resources and ideas are available for schools and teachers to use in the classroom and to use to train their teachers. Not enough schools know about this yet.
What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?
The battle between quality and quantity. As a teacher and a school, we are expected to ensure all requirements and standards are met. However, we are all aware that it is the process rather than the product and the depth of learning rather than linear learning. Creativity is a skill which all good teachers have to make sure happens in order for students to progress.
How can teachers or school leaders facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?
Be creative. Use technology. Personalize learning. And go with the flow from your students. Flip your classroom around!
About Charlotte Beckhurst @CharBeckhurst