Last week we welcomed a number of teachers and education enthusiasts to the first Teach Meet held in the Microsoft Showcase Classroom, hosted by our very own Expert Educator, Mark Martin (AKA the Urban Teacher). Instead of enforcing a strict agenda, these Teach Meets are organised with the intention of providing an environment where educators can speak with like minded individuals and trade tips and ideas, as well as hear from other members of their community who offer to present about the technologies and best practices that are making a difference in their classrooms.
We first heard from Mark Martin, teacher of ICT at St Mark’s Church of England Academy, who gave an overview of his approach to teaching and provided some food for thought in terms of motivating and inspiring young minds in the classroom.
Following Mark’s introduction, next to share their thoughts was Elani McDonald, an International Baccalaureate teacher from North London who has been devising innovative ways of engaging students in their mathematical studies by using Minecraft. Tackling some of the deeper issues around pupil engagement, Elani has conducted research into the negative stimuli that might be plaguing classrooms, or ‘educational neuroscience’ as she calls it:
“What are the things in the classroom that cause our brains to switch off?”
It’s an interesting thought, and one that is worth considering when planning lessons or content. She has written about this in more depth on her blog, where she also looks at the positive impact that Gaming in the Maths Classroom, and how she is seeing the evidence that it is changing students’ mind-sets and engagement in mathematics.
Next up ‘in front of the class’ was Lenny Dutton, who shared some of her ideas and experiences, also around the notion of gaming in the classroom and interactive quizzes. As well as presenting to the other teachers in attendance, Lenny also took something new from the evening and that was a new found love for Sway:
— Excited Educator (@missedutton) April 22, 2015
Finally, the stage was set for a rather ‘enthusiastic’ segment from one of our very own, as Stuart Ball (@innovativeteach) gave a vibrant and ebullient ode to PowerPoint, proving that you really can teach an old dog new tricks. It might be almost 25 years old, but PowerPoint continues to evolve, as anyone who has used the recent Office Mix add-on will testify. Not that anyone needed convincing, but Stuart’s t-shirt left no doubt as to his feelings towards our old and trusted friend…
This brought the formal presentations to a rousing crescendo, with everyone then breaking off into smaller conversations over a beer or wine, and perhaps a slice of pizza… unless of course a certain Microsoft employee hadn’t beaten them to it….
— Philip Montague (@get_sme) April 21, 2015
With a good blend of teachers and ed-tech enthusiasts, there was much to talk about around the future of technology in the classroom, and how it can best be utilised as part of the overall learning experience. We’re also in the process of organising further Teach Meets later on this year in Glasgow and Nottingham, so we’ll be bringing you full details of these once dates and venues have been confirmed.
Thanks to everyone who made it along last week, and we look forward to meeting many more of you at subsequent Teach Meets!