Last Friday was perhaps one of the best days I have had working for Microsoft. We brought 12 award winning teachers from the many projects submitted on the ITN to Microsoft headquarters for the UK Innovative Teachers Forum. Kristen and I had reviewed all of these teachers’ Virtual Classroom Tours before inviting them to the forum, and we had a pretty good idea of who we were going to meet before the event even began.
Meeting these teachers in person re-affirmed a few things for me. First, teaching is still a great and rewarding job (I may even be tempted to return!). Second, teachers are already very successful in engaging children through technology. And being part of an active professional network also contributes to a teacher’s success.
But what of the event, what did these Innovative Teachers get to experience? Thursday night we met at a hotel in Reading and had a wonderful dinner at a nearby restaurant. The evening was a great example of what happens when you get a group of teachers together — they talk about teaching. Loads of ideas and experiences were exchanged. That set the tone for the next day at Microsoft headquarters. Each teacher presented their VCT to the group, and it became immediately clear that all of their projects were not isolated, classroom activities, but rather all of the teachers are part of wider school transformation projects.
Teachers then participated in an interactive workshop to develop classroom resources using some of Microsoft’s newest free technologies, such as AutoCollage and the Learning Content Developent System (both of which I will be blogging about later). They also heard a keynote from Guy Shearer, former Innovative Teacher and current Head of Enterprise and Innovation Networks for the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust on innovation in schools, teaching and curriculum. Guy asked some thought provoking questions that not only had an impact on myself and Kristen, but on the teachers themselves. You can see the response of one them, Ollie Bray from Scotland, who has blogged his thoughts and responses. It is well worth a read at www.olliebray.com
At the end of the day, Microsoft’s Director of Education, Steve Beswick, presented awards to all teachers who attended and presented four teachers with invitations to Microsoft’s European Innovative Teachers Forum in Vienna in March. The end of the afternoon culminated with the official presentation, Microsoft’s Director of Education, Steve Beswick, presented awards to all teachers who attended and presented four teachers with invitations to Microsoft’s European Innovative Teachers Forum in Vienna in March.
So who will be joining myself and Kristen in Vienna in March? James Kent from Croseceiliog Comprehensive school in Torfaen, Wales. His VCT about the Asian Tsunami, not only combined some great uses of OneNote and Deep Zoom, but involved his students in designing and creating the lesson objectives for this piece of work. Mandeep Atwal, from Shirelands Collegiate Academy will be joining us with her VCT called ‘Young Voices’. She has been able to utilise her school’s SharePoint platform to developed web spaces for her students to discuss cultural awareness and sensitivity within the school and local community. Students are able to share their work with their parents at home.
Chris Henderson from Saltash.net Community School continues the school’s success with his VCT about developing Interactive Revision resources for his students. Chris used applications such as Photosynth to motivate his students in creating support materials for their exams. Finally Ollie Bray from Musselburgh Grammar School will represent Scotland with his VCT that uses the Xbox game Guitar Hero as stimulus and context to create a wide range of successful and imaginative transition projects.
A big thanks and congratulations to all the teachers who attended the event; it was pleasure to spend time your company. I would also like to thank all the teachers who submitted a VCT to this event and helped make it the most successful Innovative Teachers event we’ve held in the UK.
Stay tuned for more information in coming posts about the VCTs and technology showcased at the event