This week have had the honour of attending the global forum in Barcelona. Early last year I submitted an application to become an Expert Educator for Microsoft. The application process was simple, I had developed a project using Touch Develop within the classroom and wanted to showcase the work the students had done. After going through the application process I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the top 10 innovative expert educators in the united kingdom.
We arrive on the Monday before the event kicks off ready with our innovation in our suitcases and our devices at the ready. Ready to inspire, ready disrupt but most importantly collaborate and have fun. I must say it was a pleasant journey having the Offperts team from Saltash.net. Well behaved and good manners all around. Find out about the amazing work they’re doing by following them on twitter
After getting all settled in on the first day and finding the conference centre we were taken out for a meal to discuss future opportunities in the U.K. It was great to collaborate with Nicki Cooper about the challenges we’re facing in the computing curriculum. We knew that the next few days would be fast paced!
Day One – opening keynote and exhibiting
Day one starts are we’re all invited into a bustling hall to showcase our projects. Having only 30 minutes to get ready for the exhibiting, it was a bit of a manic rush, especially with some of the projects and the technology they were displaying. I was very fortunate to have the majority of my project on my Surface Devices whereas others had stands with so many examples of student work. Even some of the UK team who didn’t quite make it were there in spirit.
After the kick off we were invited into the main hall where we would finally meet some of our teams for our Learn-A-Thon. We were all a little quiet at first. Many other teams had managed to contact each other but this was the first time. We all got on really well and decided to exchange ideas and keep in touch.
The first sessions were compulsory, we had an introductory session to using the Surface and we were helped to get these set up. Although I understood that these sessions were vital for everyone. This is one of my only critiques of the event. I do feel that this session could have been personalised a little more. I know that the UK team had already been using Surface devices and were a head of the game in this aspect. If there were other countries in the same boat then they could have used the time to collaborate over projects or even run sessions.
The second session was brilliant. I might sound a bit bias here but the UK’s very own App man had some great tools to share with people on the Surface. For example, CreatEbook was a new tool which allows teachers to work with students to create e-books and export them on the Surface. It was great to hear about the pedagogy which works along side many of these ideas. He explained how you can use any app with your imagination. For example, he used a face blender to create a Tiger/Lion….Liger. You could easily use this as a stimulus for creative writing! http://blogs.msdn.com/b/teachers/archive/2014/01/20/windows-8-appedagogy-the-best-list-of-apps-for-your-classroom-anywhere.aspx This link will give you a link to many of the apps which were mentioned in his presentation. You should go and try them today! Little bit of a warning though… CreateEbook is only going to be for a short period of time….. grab it for free while you can!
Day Two –
We’re invited into the auditorium with over 260 other educators, educational leaders and minister’s of education. Ready to be introduced to the Global Forum 2014.
Anthony Salcito takes to the stage and is very Dynamic but his first phrase really grabs everyone’s attention. “Your students are learning without you”. How true! I can see how this would be a little difficult for some people to swallow but it’s an important thing for teachers to know. Think about what they’re finding out online. Our students have access to technology whenever and wherever and they’re able to access a whole host of different materials to help with their learning.
Kicking off the show, Anthony showcased a lot of useful tools in education.
Here are a few of interesting ones which I look forward to.
Class Policy – I have now signed up for a free trial of this to see how useful it may be. The idea of this tool is that it allows you to control all of your Windows 8 devices. For example, you can lock down the screens and you can also decide which apps you give your students access to. Some teachers have asked me how they can manage their Windows 8 devices in the past and it looks like their may be a solution on the horizon with this tool!
Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 Add-In – Currently Unnamed! – There is a neat add-in coming soon for Office 2013 which allows you to record your presentations with you inside it! You can annotate and interact with people over and over again! It looks like a really useful tool and allows you to do a lot of cool things with PowerPoint. Ever wanted to add in a specific webpage to your PowerPoint without messing around with the developer tool bar…. this looks like it’s an option coming soon!
Bing for schools – http://www.bing.com/schools – Although not available in the UK, I hear that they’re looking at getting it into our schools very soon! The idea is to help filter some of the inappropriate searches from students. I would love this to be available in schools over here! From the little bit of information I can gather on this, it is filtered into the network to stop the inappropriate material from popping up.
Pulse On – Not sure when this is to become available but it seemed like a really interactive tool for showing students their progress over time. I for one would love the students to have instant access to their progress on any device. Having paper based progress trackers can be tedious and students can lose paper etc..
The team now have another opportunity to exhibit their work and share all of their ideas. This was a great opportunity and allowed me to go and see other teachers projects. I have now linked up with teachers in Belgium and Canada with the prospect of doing some projects between classrooms. I personally loved the Holocaust project from @JHManner and we’ve already establish links for Uppingham Community College to develop an app for the project! I can see an excellent opportunity coming up for a Skype :).
Day Three – Learn-a-thon
The initial start of the day introduced some cool programs and some tools. We were introduced to the YouthSpark hub which aims to empower students to become leaders. It allows them to get the training and the tools they need in order to become successful in closing the divide. It gives them access to stem tools which will secure their own future.
Anthony Salcito arrives for a question and answering session. It was great to hear so many educators sharing their thoughts about how the program has been ran over the last couple of years. This was my first Global Forum but it sounded like some educators had been to a few of them. My suggestion was that Expert Educators should be involved in leading sessions in future years. I felt that some of the sessions weren’t as personalised as some people would have liked but just as I put my hand up to raise this feedback Anthony said that he was planning to use Expert Educators in the future… Doh!
We all meet up in the main hall with all of the other groups. Team UK were spread across a number of countries. For example, my group consisted of France, Greece and Malaysia. With each of our groups being armed with their learn-a-thon topic, we all go into the exhibition area and set up on a table. Our topic which was selected involved the sustainability of water. The idea of the topic was to create a learning activity for students to help them engage, collaborate and have impact on a global goal. Billions of people in slums do not have access to clean water. We aim to address this with our project…… but we had to plan it first.
We started out by planning but our main goal was very much to do with the collaboration of the students, We really wanted them to work together. One of our group members (from Greece) had an amazing idea which meant that when grouping our students we included data, gender, grades and other aspects of their learning. I didn’t want language to be a barrier and came armed with a wedge of paper for drawing pictures and communicating ideas.
We would put students in groups of 4 who would research 4 different areas of sustainability including science, sociology, policies and economics. Each group would have an expert in it from each of the sections so that there was still collaboration going on. For example, a science team would still have someone in it who was an expert at economics. This would help get the group interacting.
Each group would need to come up with a pitch or a proposal which would help sustainability of water and they would have to present it to their class mates. They would collaborate using tools such as :
- My montage – www.mymontage.com – Students can sign in with their windows account and create a board of news, research and other stories. They can then share the address with their other class mates.
- Lync – as part of Office 365 the students could link up with other schools or students to find out information required.
- One Drive – They can upload their work and work on it at the same time. If I was changing a document, a friend could be doing the same.
- Twitter – A student could find people who may have benefitted through the sustainability of water or they could find organisations to get facts and figures which will be helpful in their pitch.
The students would then pitch their proposal but they could do it with any tool. We wanted to keep the project flexible with the technology to allow schools worldwide to use it. Some schools might not have access to tools such as Project Spark because they might not have windows 8 machines. Some ideas the students could do for their pitch:
- Touch Develop – An app in Touch Develop or project sienna which informs people about what they have found out
- Kodu – produce an interactive quiz game to introduce the key knowledge to people.
- Photostory – video with pictures and stories could get the point across really easily.
- CreateBook– Using this tool the students can create a whole host of resources to inform people.
After the pitch to the class, the idea was that all of the students give each other feedback on the areas of their project and discuss a whole solution or idea to present to an organisation such as Water Aid. The students would still have experts in the teams but it would be more technology based for the final pitch. They would have digital leaders who work in multimedia, presenters who work on the PowerPoint, Data analysts with math skills to analyse the data and put it into some readable format for the presentation and it would really differentiate for the different skill sets available.
To finish the project, the students would present their idea to a global organisation and if it was accepted then they would have to do fund raising to help the organisation. If it wasn’t accepted then they would have to go back to the drawing board and make changes. The idea of the fund raising was that it would involve the whole school community and a wider audience.
I have attached our slides here with some evidence of assessment you could use with your students. If you’re interested in collaborating on a project like this, then let me know in the future. I would love to attempt something like this which has impact on a global scale.
After a long day, the UK got with the rest of Europe and decided to introduce Teach Meet’s to the rest of Europe! We all shared great practice in the classroom and went through some of the changes we’re facing. I teamed up with Nicki Cooper and we explained the UK hour of code! We talked about how effective it was in our classrooms and we explained the amazing work our students were doing. Many other educators showed off tools which were effective in their classroom. I personally liked the idea of using Zondle! You should check it out yourself. Thank you to David Rogers @DavidERogers for being a great host.
Day Four – Presenting the learn-a-thon
Early start!!! 8:30 presentation! Our group is told to present our project to a panel of judges. Being the only person from an English speaking country I had to present first out of all of the groups in the learn-a-thon. We were given some feedback of the judges and one judge particular said that she enjoyed the presentation and the idea of collaboration from the students. We had questions on how we will continue this project but all agreed that we could do this project across our countries because we had left the technology an open topic. We also said that sustainability was a topic close to our hearts because we could see examples in our own towns and cities of people who don’t live in the best conditions.
We finished our presentation and were given some down time and boy did we need it!!!! This was a fill on conference with so many activities, keynotes, speeches and activities to get through.
Most of us got together to speak about different activities we could take back to our schools but some of us went to discover Barcelona. I will say, the outdoor pool was colder than glaciers! I for one jumped in and back out, David Renton from Scotland has an interesting photo of me squirming but you don’t need to see that :P. Right David!!
We’re invited into a room full of people with all of the tables set out and we sat down for a lovely meal. The Touch Develop team stuck together :P. I was disappointed with David Renton though, where was your kilt! It was a pleasure to have Claire Riley join us who has been doing some fantastic work across schools with the new Computer Science curriculum. (Thank you geeky Barbie for holding the fort). The food was great and the company was great. I had a great chat with other Educators and also enjoyed the company of Lian Morgan from the United States. Thank you for a wonderful time guys!
We’re invited into the awards hall and they start to call of the awards for projects one by one. It was buzzing! We waited impatiently to hear how the UK team had done. Thankfully…. the cutting edge of technology category comes along and yes! The UK does it again :). I would like to wish a huge congratulations to Scott Wieprecht from Saltash! He and his team of Offperts received the prize for 2nd Runner up! The students were amazing, the project was amazing and they were very humble. It was a huge pleasure to spend time with these guys this week and I couldn’t be happier for them! Their project was so empowering and it was great to see the students have such a voice at the event this week.
After spending an amazing week with so many innovative educators I have come back with some amazing ideas, tools and friends. I really enjoyed my time here and I look forward to sharing some of the projects I’ve seen with other educators at Uppingham Community College. One project I particularly loved comes from a Canadian teacher from Hamilton Ontario….. I’m not being bias there! I swear!!!! A project on the holocaust which lead to the students finding actual survivors and sharing their findings with the rest of the world. I’m still not sure why this project didn’t receive an award!
I found some amazing tools for using with my surface devices in the classroom!! I loved class policy, lock down what apps your students have access to. Pulseon, track the progress of your students overtime and make it visual for them to see.
Obviously this amazing experience wouldn’t be possible this week without all the support we had!
First of all a huge thank you goes to Uppingham Community College for supporting me with everything behind the scenes. Our Head teacher Mrs Jan Turner for her on-going support of my wacky ideas! I would like to say a huge thank you to the cover supervisors, form cover, intervention managers,ICT department and most of the students involved in this project. William Rhodes, Dawid Czajka, Evan Jones, Olivia Rootham, William Smith and Desmond Weich. Everyone was very impressed with your apps and how they have been used! Miss Ballance for your innovative use of our apps and thank you for testing the apps and giving your students the opportunity to give us feedback on them.
Secondly I would like to give Stuart Ball (Secret Identity….AppMan!) @innovativeteach a huge thank you :P – I was planning on sending a card in the post but this is just as good :P. I really enjoyed my week with you and thank you for your awesome hospitality. You’re one in a million and I look forward to keeping in touch with other wacky ideas! There was a real team spirit and it was great to see all of the UK team in their t-shirts! I guess you can see our team spirit through the McDonalds #selfie ;). I can honestly say that you have been a huge inspiration in this process and I look forward to future projects! Thanks for keeping the team together and keeping us in the loop!
A big thank you to my wife for having to put up with me through all the preparation and times I’ve been locked away in my cave preparing resources. Thank you for being you :)