So in an earlier post I wrote about how amazing the 'Home Tour' and 'Envisioning Labs' at Microsoft HQ in Redmond were!! Today I discovered some information on the labs on a Microsoft website: http://www.officelabs.com/projects/envisioninglab/Pages/default.aspx I figure since it is on the web then I can 'copy' the photos and show you all just how amazing it was!! Plus I also found that less than a year ago the Microsoft Office labs team was hiring! Too bad I don't have a programming background!!
Envisioning Lab Part 2!
The End is here...
And just like that my time in Redmond had come to an end! Last minute collaboration, frantic swapping of details and a thousand photos later it was time to discuss our action plans and organise our homework tasks!
Sincere thanks to the wonderful people at Microsoft and our amazing technology gurus for a fun filled week of learning, sharing and collaborating. Pretty amazing to think that in one week you managed to improve the learning of a student in Australia, Africa, Indonesia, Korea, USA in total students from 31 countries!! Special thanks to the UK team @Chickensaltash and @Janwebb21 I will miss you guys so much! Don’t forget your thongs, vegemite and tim tams!! And finally a massive thank you from the bottom of my heart to the 49 educators who kindly shared their triumphs and downfalls, provided suggestions and insights and have in such a short time become such valued and cherish influences on my own teaching and learning!
Both @BramFaems and @Chickensaltash have produced amazing videos which sum up my thoughts and feelings on my magical week in the USA!
Introducing a TeachMeet!
Now that I am back on home soil I have been able to grab a few minutes to tell the story of my final day at Microsoft HQ. While my physical journey has drawn to a close I have so much more to say so expect these posts to go on for a while longer!!
Interestingly many of the Institute attendees were anxiously awaiting the proceedings of the last day at Redmond. This was because this was our time to shine and tell the world in 3 minutes a tool that helps us to engage, exciting and encourage our students to learn! This method of delivery known as a TeachMeet requires the presenter to talk for 3 minutes using a formatted visual slide presentation.
This was by far one of my favourite 2 hours out of the whole week! It was enlightening listening to other teachers share their most innovative practices. The 3 minute snapshots of ideas were enough to get your taste buds tingling and your mind whirling! Ideas ranged from Microsoft Tags (http://tag.microsoft.com/home.aspx) to augmented reality! – something I definitely want to follow up! My fingers couldn’t type the ideas down fast enough! Some of the highlights from the session included touching messages of support from teachers around the world expressing their gratitude for the Institute and clearly stating that the ‘future’ belongs to us! Of course as mentioned before @chickensaltash’s Songsmith was a hit with the crowd!
This was my first taste of a TeachMeet and I plan on being a part of another one really soon!! I have just learned of the official TeachMeet website (http://teachmeet.pbworks.com/w/page/19975349/FrontPage) and look forward to planning my own school TeachMeet session!
New technology... New ideas!
It was very comforting to learn that despite that fact that we are ‘down under’ us Aussies are on top of the technology offerings. While we may be on the other side of the world it appears as though our connections through blogs, wikis and twitter have meant that we are up-to-date with new advances in technology.
Sonja and Baldev our fearless technology gurus spent countless hours preparing sessions to help demonstrate how Microsoft’s latest software could be used in the classroom. While I could confidently use the programs presented, the sharing of knowledge and ideas far out-weighed the technology know-how!
I encourage you to check them out and of course share your ideas with others!
This simple yet visually appealing piece of software allows users to create photo collages which celebrate important events and themes! Users select a folder, click OK and in a few minutes AutoCollage presents you with a unique memento to print, email or save!
Windows Live Movie Maker
With Windows Live Movie Maker, you can quickly turn your photos and videos into polished movies. Add special effects, transitions, sound, and captions to help tell your story. Sharing your creations with your friends is also very easy!
This site also gives some amazing and creative ideas of where to use Windows Live Movie Maker in the classroom:
This piece of software is probably one of Microsofts best kept secrets! Photo story is a photo presentation program that lets you drag photos onto a window, arrange them as needed, then provide custom narration, transitions, zooms, pans, audio soundtracks and/or custom auto-generated music. Finally you can then export the result as a WMV file. Quick, easy and effective!
Songsmith generates a musical accompaniment to match a singer’s voice. Just choose a musical style, sing into your PC’s microphone, and Songsmith will create backing music for you. Then share your songs with your friends and family, post your songs online, or create your own music videos.
This advert may be a little corny but explains pretty clearly how Songsmith works! I showed my students this video today and they started singing with the video – how embarrassing!
For added inspiration check out this Songsmith created by @Chicksaltash as part of his TeachMeet presentation (More about TeachMeets in the next post!)
Out and About!
While at the Asian Art Museum we had the opportunity to visit the 'Water Tower' a solid structure which after climbing the 100+ steps gave us an awesome view of the city of Seattle and the Space Needle.
The Asian Art Museum!
Our final adventure for Day 3 was a trip to the Asian Art Museum (http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/visit/visitsaam.asp) to complete a Learning Activity (what we had previously learnt on Day 1!). Learning activities require students to move beyond reproducing what they have learned to building knowledge. These learning activities ask students to create or explore information or ideas that are new to them. Students can do this through interpretation, analysis, synthesis, or evaluation. The strongest activities require students to connect information and ideas from two or more academic disciplines.
Our mission was to learn as much as possible about the Asian Art Museum before and during our visit. Upon our return our task was to assemble our knowledge and create a product that demonstrated our learning.
Day 3 – A day of Adventures. Today will probably be a day that I will remember for the rest of my life! First stop was the Microsoft Visitors Centre where I was introduced to the founders of Microsoft, played a quick game of Kinect, and even cemented my thoughts and photo onto the Microsoft photo wall. (See photos below)
Next stop was the Microsoft Home Tour and although I would really like to share my thoughts on this special place located in the depths of the Microsoft Campus I have been sworn to secrecy! (and of course signed that all important non-disclosure form!) What I will say is that from the moment I stepped in the front door I was amazed! This would have to be one of the coolest places I have ever been!! I know that long after I have left Redmond, ‘Grace’ will hold a special place within my heart!
On to the future - Microsoft’s Envisaging Labs. Again words escape me. What a wonderful, technology rich world we live in. The things I saw in this room have blown me away – I only wish that I could have some of these ‘new’ technologies in my class NOW! My Principal should be worried because I will be asking for a wall of interactivity!
With my head spinning with new ideas it was time to shop! I could have spent a few hours in the Microsoft Company shop but I managed to exhibit some self-control and limited myself to 45 minutes! Yes kids I did find you some presents – I only hope that you have behaved yourselves! I cannot wait to wear my GEEK t-shirt! I may just be the coolest chick at hockey training!
Day 2 ended just like it had begun – another practical session filled with easy to apply knowledge that I know I will definitely be able to use on my return back to my school. Baldev and Sonja posed the question “What are the key ingredients to a good professional development session”. You can see our responses on our ‘corkboard’ http://bit.ly/nVVViI. Despite being at times worlds apart common trends were evident among the 50 Innovative Teachers. A professional development session must be practical, relevant and engaging. It should spark enthusiasm and at the end of the session a ‘product’ must be made. It is vital that the leader knows their topic, is adaptable and can read their audience.
We also spent some time discussing the challenges of delivering a PD session – our responses were also collaborated on a ‘corkboard’. http://corkboard.me/AoS2ec3FHG and the common message among the participants of the Institute was that participants of professional development sessions wanted to believe that “what you are telling them is worth their time”!! Combined with a lack of resources, differing expectations and school based restrictions it is no wonder that delivering professional development sessions is often seen as difficult and impossible to administer!
For me this was a great session and has given me an awesome set of guidelines for delivering sessions to staff. I know that I am one of the lucky ones with a solid professional development program and unlimited resources – but I do struggle at times to maintain teacher engagement and teacher expectations are always high! I now feel that I have a set of tools that will help me educate others so that they can also adapt their teaching and learning to be more in line with 21st Century Learners.
How could I forget to write about my adventures to the Microsoft Store!! http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msstore/html/pbPage.Locations/bellevue
I had no idea that such stores even existed until I rounded the corner in the Belleuve Square Mall to be greeted with the familiar red, green, blue and yellow squares! It was really hard not to act too 'geeky' and I stood outside like a true tourist clicking away - amid the stares of the general shoppers - hey I am Australian - we are all a little weird!! So inside the shop I was greeted with a wall of software, a range of never seen before devices (well at least to us Australians!) and a whole heap of people having a great time interacting with the technology!!
While my visit was brief I loved every second - my only question is why don't we have one of these stores in Australia! Microsoft Store beware I will be back - this time to buy some souvenirs!
Day 2 started with a BANG! Dr Baldev Singh presented an enlightening introduction to today’s Technology Tasks! His excitement and passion radiated through the room as he showed funny snips from youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tz3lD03a_rE Baldev spoke many home truths, confidently conveying his message that as innovative educators we may find it easy to train one person in our schools but we will find it much harder to train all the teachers and indeed the whole school! He also wisely quoted that “technology might be the answer, but what was the question”!
Then it was on to the technology labs to learn, learn, learn!! We started with Bing Maps (www.bing.com/maps) – a fully interactive piece of technology that could easily be incorporated into many lessons! The Bing Apps easily allow users to calculate distances, map routes and events and you can even see the cost of petrol at certain locations! We then briefly touched on Windows Live Movie Maker (http://explore.live.com/windows-live-movie-maker?os=other) and AutoCollage (http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/cambridge/projects/autocollage/). Then it was on to business creating a Learning Activity using all of these ‘new’ products. My new partner in crime Jan (@janwebb) and I decided to create a cross curricula, multi-media task where students from the UK and Australia collaborate on various tasks with the end product being a digital story about the travels of Dan the Dalmatian. (Drawing from inspiration from our friend Dan @chickensaltash) More details to follow later but the task involves the use of Photosynth, (http://research.microsoft.com/enus/um/cambridge/projects/autocollage/) OneNote, a Wiki, and GreenScreen technology.
A note from kylie...
My teaching adventures as I travel the world!