All this week we'll be going into more depth on each of the areas of the Microsoft Educator Community, and exploring the ways that people can take value from the wealth of free teacher CPD resources and peer interactions that can be found through the site that is being colloquially known as the 'MEC'.
If you missed our previous post about how to join the MEC, you can find it here:
How to start your CPD with the Microsoft Educator Community
With six main areas of the site for teachers to immerse themselves in, we're going to look at each of them through the eyes of an educator, and hear from them how they have used materials, courses, tutorials or the network of other members of the MEC to further their own personal development and put the new skills or approaches into practice in the classroom.
Yesterday we took a closer look at the 'Get Trained' section of the MEC with #MIEExpert Martine Mannion, and now we're ready to explore another part of the site. Like the 'Get Trained' section, 'Find a Lesson' is split into three main areas:
Find lesson plans you can download or view for your classroom that other educators have created.
Connect with hundreds of global professionals and experts on a variety of topics to bring live learning lessons into your classroom.
Virtual Field Trips
Take your students on an adventure in their own classroom by taking a virtual field trip with Skype.
Here to share his experiences, and to walk you through some simple steps that will allow you to take advantage of the resources that can be found within the 'Find a Lesson' area of the MEC, is #MIEExpert Ben Whitfield, Head of ICT at St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High School:
'Find a Lesson' - resources created by real teachers to be used by real students
by Ben Whitfield
Where does inspiration come from? That was the question I’ve been asking myself over the last couple of weeks.
In terms of planning learning cycles with my students, I am always looking for a idea to spark what happens in the classroom. If it grabs my attention and interests me, then it is much more likely to grab the attention of the learners in the classroom.
My curriculum area (Computer Science / ICT ) has undergone rapid and much needed change in the last three years and we now stand at the precipice of opportunity. Rather than making small changes that essentially just rename the subject area, we have an opportunity to radically alter what we teach and how we teach it.
So back to inspiration, what should we teach? Where do you look for ideas? Personally, I have always valued collaboration with like-minded professionals but when embarking on a new journey, sometimes it is good to look outwards rather than inwards. Finding like-minded individuals outside of your own organisation can be a challenge but this is where the Microsoft Educator Community (MEC) comes in.
As well as providing a host of useful tools such as online training, the MEC is also host to an ever growing library of project / lesson ideas and resources. These are resources that have been created and uploaded by real teachers to be used by real students.
Want to find an engaging lesson that encourages students to develop advanced physical games using technologies they are already familiar with (like Kinect)? You can find that on the MEC.
And of course, if you are looking at these lesson plans / ideas, quite often you are given other useful links that you may decide to use.
There is a really simple filtering system that allows you to very quickly drill down to the kinds of materials you are looking for. Most subject areas are catered for as well as different languages and age ranges. You can find professionals who are willing to give up their time to deliver content over Skype to your classroom and despite not having done this personally, I can see how this could add real variety to what happens in your classroom. You now have access to people you may not ever heard of before.
One of the really nice and unexpected aspects of this is the supportive community that lives there. More often than not, lessons have comments added to them from other educators who have tried them out. This can be simple comments on what worked well but often consist of discussions about improvements and different approaches to the lesson.
This leads nicely onto the ability to create and upload your own work. Of course, as with anything, thinking about lessons in new ways often leads to powerful critical reflection on your own work. The act of uploading work to be viewed by others can feel a little daunting at first but it also really focuses the mind on what you are trying to achieve and making sure you have extended the learning of all students.
It is very simple to get the work uploaded and it then disappears to be moderated by a member of the community team. This also helps to ensure a level of quality on the site as each plan is approved / rejected.
So, inspiration can come from anywhere and at any time. It is nice to know, however, that there is also a little corner of the Internet where really useful content is provided, because sometimes all you need is a spark.
This week marks the start of 1 million BBC micro:bits arriving in schools up and down the UK, with many students and teachers soon to be taking their first steps with Touch Develop as they begin to programme their micro:bits.
With this is mind, there are a whole host of Touch Develop tutorials and lesson plans that can be found within the 'Find a Lesson' part of the MEC, and the MEC at large. If you are new to Touch Develop then the MEC is a great place to start your learning as a teacher, and find other educators from all over the world to learn from and share ideas with.
What are you waiting for? Give it a try!