Last year you may have recalled a blog post I made about the UK Microsoft Partners In Learning conference 2011. This was an amazing event that I had the opportunity of showing some educators how to use the Kinect SDK within the classroom. After presenting my project to a number of Judges I was lucky enough to be picked as one of the 4 teachers to present the UK at the European Microsoft Partners In Learning Forum which was held in Lisbon from the 19th – 23rd of March 2012.
About the Project
Back in October I had noticed that many of my students in the past were struggling to come to grips with key terms in databases. I had also noticed that many of the students failed to sustain the knowledge in the database unit of work. Whilst playing with the Kinect one night I was given the suggestion to follow up my lessons using the Kinect.
In the beginning, I developed a scheme of work using Kinect Sports. Working with the whole school, I developed a competition for an Olympics style event on the Kinect Sports. Students would work together and would come along in their own time to take part in a game of Hurdles or Sprint. These scores would then be put against each other. The students would then use these scores to investigate which students were better at sports in the school. I used a whole school event like sports day and told students to investigate whether the “Brady” house were actually better at sports than others.
The project itself encouraged students to be more independent in finding out things for themselves but this was only the start of the project. Students were working collaboratively using Sky Drive to give each other feedback on pieces of their work. The thing that made this project cutting edge was that it was using the Kinect to encourage learning.
Whilst using the Kinect with the games console was becoming some what popular with educators, I wanted to take it that one step further. I started developing applications to use in the lessons which would encourage students to learn keywords and check spellings. These projects have been successful with my students and other educators have even made use of these in their projects which shows a wider impact.
You can find out more about some of these applications by going to the link at the top. This project is ever growing and as a result has helped build members of the K-Team. You will hear more about this in the future. We’re a group of teachers looking to educate other teachers about the use of the Kinect and Kodu in lessons. If you’re looking for some resources, you can find these by joining the Partners In Learning Network.
Unfortunately my project was not lucky enough to progress to the Global Forum, however I can say that I am one of the luckiest losers ever! I would like to quote Jennifer Blum on this one. I have managed to meet so many brilliant people at this event and a big shout out goes to Katie Boothman, Nicki Maddams and Lindsay Purdon. These three girls are some of the most amazing educators I have ever met. I was able to exchange ideas and have taken a lot of these ideas on board and will be taking some of these ideas to my school. I have started a Mini-K-Team which gets my students to start developing some Kinect Applications and I am thinking of getting future students to audition to be a part of it. I am also thinking of getting students to program Kodu games for teachers to use as part of lessons. I thank my lucky stars that I made it as far as I did and know that this is just the beginning. I look forward to seeing how many of the projects progress in the future and I am so excited for Katie Boothman! Katie Boothman was a winner in the category of Extending Learning Beyond the classroom. You can find out more about this project below. CONGRATULATIONS!!!
Katie Boothman had an amazing project where a group of year 9 students auditioned to be part of a top group of students would who design and make resources for the history department. (Hit Squad). I absolutely loved the fact that students had to audition to become part of this group! It shows such determination from the students. This group of students had been working inside and outside of school and they have been using technology to bring history into the twenty-first century. You should really check out this project!
Nicki Maddams is a programmer like myself who is keen to get more computing into schools and if you have been following Michael Gove’s statements on computing in education, then you will love Nicki’s blog. She has been working with Kodu which is a free to download software which is used to teach students how to program games. They learn the basics of using variables such as score and they also improve their maths skills by using comparisons. It is a really engaging project and she was very keen to demo the work she has done on this.
Lindsay Purdon was another member of the team who has been making some brilliant use One Note. She has been using this with her students to make research more engaging for them. I can honestly say that after speaking to her about her project, I have started to make better use of One Note. I am now using this to mark my students work, I now share my students levels with them and they record their feedback through the use of it. It allows the learners to gain from it and I can save myself a lot of typing when marking. All I need to do is record my feedback straight into the One Note file.
One of my favourite Key notes from from Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft. This group of educators and explorers became the first woman to conquer the north and south poles and they both made international headlines. They worked their way through treacherous conditions and they managed to report all of their stories to classrooms worldwide via the internet. Their story was truly inspiration and they managed to communicate with classrooms to inspire children to make more of their lives and to achieve their dreams. I know living where I am that students aren’t necessarily motivated to find their dreams out side of our little town. They’re doing amazing things and they’re now about to lead 8 woman from 8 different continents and they’re hoping to unit 2 million classrooms and 50 million students world wide. You can find out more here.
Another one of the presentations which I enjoyed was from a guy called Bruce Dixon who has been very forthcoming about the use of technology in the classroom. He made some good points about the use of technology and commented on the use of blogging. He comment on the use of blogs and how they could be improved, however one of the things that stood out to me was his comments on having access to technology. He feels that technology is a basic human right. I completely agree with him, however not everyone can afford this at the moment. Whilst visiting the school in Portugal, they were very happy to have 1 computer per classroom, this seems like a long time ago in the UK and we’re lucky enough to have at least 10 computer suites. It is a shame that not all of these are used to their complete advantage in some schools. Whilst visiting the school in Portugal it got me thinking about how much I take for granted. I have so much equipment available to me, yet I crave for more. I feel that I need to make sure keep experimenting with the equipment I have.
Whilst at the Forum I was lucky enough to attend some workshops. I thought that being from the UK I would go and support the workshops from the UK and I went to visit Mandeep Atwal to find out even more about the TakingItGlobal ‘Shout’ Project. I also thought that I would stop by and find out some of the cool things Gareth Ritter has been doing in his classroom. I have already had the pleasure of working with Gareth, however I was keen to see what else I would find out.
The first workshop I went to was with Mandeep Atwal who is the UK Programs Manager. Mandeep supports educators across Europe and is co-coordinating the ‘Shout’ project. As a school, I have started introducing the shout project to some of my students and it is going down really well with them. I wanted to find out more. She made some excellent points about what is going on in the world and there was some resources which really hit home. She also mentioned technical sessions which would have educators working together to make more use of technology within the project. The next session coming up soon will be around the use of Kodu. You can find out more about it here.
The second workshop I attended was from Gareth Ritter. Gareth is an educator from Wales (Great Singer too!). He has been making use of innovative practice in his classroom. He has been using the Kinect and he has also been getting more of his students engaged using some innovative tools. Here are some of the tools here mentioned in his presentation:
- Cliplets – It allows you to freeze sections of video and allow the rest of it to play. He used this within an orchestra so that students could see what one person was doing and analyse it. This would be great for media work and maybe English for analysing peoples actions in stories etc..
- Song Smith – It allows you to sing into a piece of software and once you have sung into it, the backing track is automatically developed. It is really easy to use and I can say that my students love it. They have used it to create rap’s about spread sheets and databases.
You can download all of these tools and you can find out more about these programs by going to the partners in learning network.
Final Thoughts and Thanks!
I can honestly say that I had the most amazing time of my life. I worked with some amazing educators and I made a whole lot of new friends. I have had some emails already from people who I would like to work with in the future and I am keen to get more educators into the use of the Kinect. Team GB were awesome and I would like to say I have made some new friends for life. Thank you for making this experience so unforgettable.
When I got back from the forum I had learnt that the head teacher from my school was leaving, however I would like to give Guy Shearer a special mention here. He has done nothing but support me through my use of technology in the classroom. He has given me so many ideas and I safely say that I will miss having him around Lodge Park Technology College. Thank you for the opportunities you have given me and thank you for introducing me to Partners In Learning.
I would like to thank my head of department and my department for the support through this whole process. I understand that it must have been difficult having the time out from Lodge Park to go to events in honour of the technology and I would like to thank them for the support and the willingness to cover my classes. Without this I would not have the opportunity to be at these events.
I would like to quote Katie Boothman here when I say that Stuart Ball has been so valuable throughout this process. Whenever I have been unsure about something or whenever I need a hand, Stuart has been there to listen and has given me some inspirational ideas! He has some inspirational ideas for the K-Team so watch this space!
Gareth Ritter has been very supportive throughout the process and has been using many of my programs in his classrooms. It is brilliant having another teachers input on the work I have been doing and Gareth is one of the first teachers to go out and use it whenever I develop something new. He is also one of the most supportive people I have met always giving me new ideas.
Last but not least! THE K-TEAM!!! All of you have been brilliant and I look forward to developing more apps with all of you guys and I look forward to collaborating with you all even more so that we can encourage more teachers to make use of the AWESOMENESS THAT IS!…. KINECT and KODU!!!