I was introduced to Microsoft Partners In Learning last year through our head teacher Guy Shearer and unfortunately due to being at the beginning of my NQT year it was a bit difficult to fit in everything whilst trying to get all of my standards together.
Although I was not able to make the UK Partners in Learning Forum, I was fortunate enough to meet lots of people through events such as their summer camp. These were all awesome events and they gave me so many ideas for my classes and I can honestly say it was the best FREE CPD ever! I had time to speak to so many inspiration educators and exchanged ideas.
At the end of October 2011 I decided to submit a Virtual Classroom Tour to the Microsoft Partners in Learning UK Forum 2011. After the closing date in November I received an email to say that my project had been picked as one of the top 10 projects. I was really overwhelmed and when I had told the students about this, they were in shock and awe. They were so pleased that people wanted to hear about the work they had done!
Day 1 – After school I rushed down the motorway with @louisedorrian to make it to the #itmeet. So many educators had gathered together in the royal tandori to discuss ideas and to discuss the impact they have had on education. There were so many amazing ideas. It was fascinating to hear of new teachers discovering the use of blogs. There were many educators creating software themselves and they were all using these in the classroom to engaged students. Towards the end of the night, each of the 10 projects were presented with glass plaques in recognition of their accomplishment. This alone was really rewarding! Everyone was really supportive of each others projects and it was great to meet up and share ideas with everyone. Even if you can’t make it to the forum, it is totally worth it to come along to the teach meet!
I was so over the moon about finally meeting people who I had talked to on twitter for months. I had been exchanging ideas with Gareth Ritter (@ritzertech) and Jimmy Edwards (@Jimmy_Edwards) for a while and it was the first time I got to meet them both. It was like fireworks when the K-Team finally got to meet each other. So many ideas were flying around……. I must also give a special mention to Kristian Still. I had met Kristian Still at a summer camp and we had been talking for a while and exchanging ideas. It was great to finally see him again after over a year! Totally worth a follow on twitter with some great (as he calls “Volvo”) techniques towards education. @KristianStill.
Day 2 – 6:00am get up! Time to go down to Microsoft Camp. I was so excited about the prospect of presenting the Kinect to other teachers. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to teach other educators, how to use the Kinect SDK. The hospitality of all the staff was second to none! They were able to take me to my room and explain how all of the computers set up. The technical department had set up all of the machines to the spec I asked for and were fantastic! THANK YOU! All set up! SHOWTIME!!
We were all invited into the auditorium and were introduced to some amazing speakers. Ian Livingstone explained how ICT is becoming more of a way of teaching how to use applications and there is technical ability being given to our students. He had some very interesting points and I complete agree. Students need to be prepared if they’re going to go into the games industry. Unfortunately for the UK, there is very little computer science in the curriculum. He was very inspirational and it’s because of guys like this that I plan on doing more extra curricular programming clubs for students.
Next up was Ollie Bray. He had some truly inspiration messages about the use of gaming to engage students. It is because of this guy that I decided to bring more gaming into my lessons. He explained how there were so many different ways of bring gaming into education and gave some great examples. He talked about how you could use SimCity within Geography. He mentioned the use of games like Guitar Hero linking into Music, ICT, English and many more subjects. You really need to check out this guys blog!
Time to deliver the Kinect SDK to other educators. With this being my first time showing the Kinect SDK to others I was a little reserved about whether it would work. Would others see the potential? Would people see the true power of the Kinect or would they think it is a Gimmick?
I was lucky enough to share 4 sessions with Nicki Maddams. She presented some amazing ideas about how you can use Kodu to engage not just ICT students but other areas of the curriculum. You can use it to develop literacy. The example Nicki used showed how you can create a story line for students. For example, when a character bumps into a rock, the students need to write a sentence such as “Ouch! You need to go to the other rock”. She explained how great it has been for less able students. If you imagine with some students, getting them to write even one sentence is a huge accomplishment for them. Not only is she an amazing educator but she is a lovely girl. I really recommend you following her on twitter. @GeekyNicki.
After Nicki’s part, I showed other teachers how to use the Kinect SDK. I showed some examples of applications I have made. I must say, I was thoroughly impressed with everyone. With time limitations I can say hand on heart that 99.9% of people managed to make a Kinect SDK application which played a sound without any problems. Some of these teachers had no programming experience at all but they were really into it! I was very happy with the success and the great feedback from everyone. I look forward to hearing some of their ideas in the future. Would be great to work with some of them in the future and exchange some ideas even further.
After some amazing CPD sessions, we were able to present our projects to other inspirational teachers. This was one of my favourite experiences. I got to make so many connections and met so many passionate teachers who had similar outlooks on ICT in education. Not only was this a chance to meet new people, it was also a chance to build my own confidence. After delivering session on the Kinect SDK and after presenting my ideas I feel much more confident when delivering content to others.
Closing – Stuart Ball takes to the stage and we’re all invited to the auditorium. He talks about the importance of the Partners In Learning community and explains the impact it has had. I completely agree with him. Without Partners In Learning, I would have never have been inspired to use things like the Kinect SDK in the class and I would never have thought to use gaming to engage my students. After talking about the fantastic community of teachers Stuart talks about the 40 Virtual Classroom Tours submitted to the Partners In Learning UK Forum and talked about the number of inspiring ideas which were put forward. He announces the winners one by one. After hearing about the inspiring projects from the likes of Katie Boothman @boothmank,Nicki Maddams @GeekyNicki and Sarah Coombes @CoombesS, Stuart announces that I had made it through to the European Finals along with the other teachers above. I did not expect this AT ALL and was so overwhelmed when I got to go up and collect an Xbox 360 for my school. I’m still shaking from the excitement now as I write this blog!
Following on from this I got to hear from outstanding contributors to education. From the likes of @alexbellos.
I had never heard of Chinese Maths before and was extremely shocked when it was shown! I had always struggled with big numbers through school and seeing Alex Bellos in action was so amazing! I went straight into school today to tell everyone about it! I was even showing kids in my ICT lessons!
I’m so excited about what is next to come in the future and thanks to Partners In Learning, I have met so many amazing people and made so many new connections. I look forward to the next step at the European Partners In Learning Forum and I hope to make even more connections there. I went into school today and spoke to class about the whole process and took out the shiny new Xbox and showed them the award. They were so over the moon at their work being being recognised!
THANK YOU PARTNERS IN LEARNING!
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