I’ve been in Canada for a month now visiting family and friends. While over here I was checking my Twitter feed and saw that Microsoft were doing a windows in the classroom session for Windows 8. We had a spare day and thought we would take a drive since it was only up the road for us.
We arrived at the store and were immediately impressed with the technology being used and the set up of the store. I hadn’t been to a Microsoft Store before and was familiar with the Apple store layout. The screens around the room displayed the technology and ways in which it could be used in different scenarios.
We were invited to the back where the seminar would be help and we were greeted by Dustin Jez from fairchancelearning.com. He was a very friendly chap and he kicked off his presentation talking about the importance of using technology. He made a good point about talking about the use of devices in the classroom. How we’re moving from laptops to tablets. The functionality of tablets is always improving and he made a good point in talking about the functionality of the windows 8 surface pro. The great thing about this device is that it allows you to install apps but it also allows you to install windows 8 applications.
I have recently invested in some surface RT’s and was interested to see how others might use the devices and this session did not disappoint. Dustin was able to show many educational apps which were useful to a multiple number of subjects. Some of my favourites have been mentioned below.
Khan Academy was one of the first apps which impressed me. The English National Curriculum is changing at the moment and it was nice to see an application which includes all the needs. There are video tutorials which are all linked together as well as teaching materials. I’m impressed with the computer science materials in the science section. This is a good resource for teachers and students a like.
Talking Tiles was another favourite of mine. For SEN teachers or students with special educational needs, this application helps students put together words. You can click on tiles and it helps you put common phrases together and it is a must have for anyone who is working with students who are developing their speech. It may even be useful for parents to have when supporting their children’s speech as they grow up through nursery / kindergarden.
While at the session there were a number of other features that impressed me. Sometimes students can find it difficult reading large text. Sometimes students need someone to read through their work for them. I did not know about the little feature within Microsoft Office which reads your work back to you. If you click on the quick access tool bar at the top of your Office application, you can add more options. You can add something called speak. It reads back any text to a student who may find certain words difficult. This is a must have for any teacher using computers in the lesson. It helps with your differentiation and it doesn’t single out students with needs such as dyslexia. If you follow the steps below, you can do this in your classroom.
There was a lot more to take away from this event. Fortunately, I’m already a member of the Partners In Learning Network by Microsoft. It is a great way of sharing resources online and it helps people collaborate and work together. Microsoft are giving away free tools for you to use in your classroom. You can go here and download the learning suite. The learning suite has tools useful for all subjects. You can use the world wide telescope within your science lessons. You can use Kodu for building applications and you can even use it within English or History for replicating wars or creative writing. I recommend anyone join this. I already established a link with another school by going to this event which I would not have known about if I didn’t follow Partners In Learning on Twitter and Facebook.
Another tool which was mentioned at the event was the use of the Touch Develop platform. Dustin talked about how people were starting to develop their own applications using the Touch Develop platform. I told him about some of the resources which have been produced on the Touch Develop website. I have shared them on the partners in learning website so that others can benefit from them. You can find out more about lesson by clicking here. There are video tutorials and lesson guides for teachers. These lessons will get you into the basics of using it.
I really enjoyed my time at the event and would like to thank Dustin for insight into using these tools for windows 8. There were many more suggestions but I have only had time to comment on some of my favourites. Thank you for your hospitality and the star bucks