Thursday, 22 June 2017

Margaret Tracy from Hillcrest High School reflects on the recent Microsoft E2 Africa Forum #Makewhatsnext in Johannesburg

This is a guest post from Margaret Tracy, the Technology Integrator at Hillcrest High School (HHS) in Kwazulu-Natal. She believes implicitly in pedagogy before technology in the transformation of education. Margaret  was invited to attend the Microsoft E2 Africa Form in Johannesburg, and in this article she gives a reflection on the event. Margaret first wrote this as a post in Linkedin

Introducing the E2 Africa Conference
The Microsoft E2 Africa #Makewhatsnext Conference held on 29-30 May was a constructive example of innovation and expertise in action. To launch the event, Sonya Delafosse, Senior Partners-in-Learning Manager of Microsoft's worldwide Education team, stressed the importance of 21st century skills and the role technology can play in education to harness these skills. As the Technology Integrator at Hillcrest High School (HHS)in Durban, what struck me most, was the global need to travel this road together and pool our best resources so that we can learn from each other.

Microsoft's Professional Development programs
A second confirmation was the focus given to the importance of pedagogy first, with technology being a powerful tool to transform education. Microsoft in the Classroom and the Microsoft Educator Community (MEC) provides a professional and directed framework to guide and measure each school in their journey to transforming education on a global scale. It is uncharted territory and all schools can be considered pioneers in their own right. I believe that all schools should seriously consider joining the Microsoft School's Programme, if they haven't already, to facilitate the implementation of what Microsoft has to offer both teachers and students. The free online educator courses and point system with Microsoft badges carries SACE endorsement. At HHS, our teacher IT Champions are embracing this internationally recognised opportunity and at a recent workshop, all teachers were motivated to become Microsoft Innovative Educators (MIE). Online learning allows teachers to address professional development in their own time at their own pace. A growing number of HHS students have joined the Student IT Champion initiative and they are now working towards achieving their online Microsoft Digital Literacy Certificate. Clearly, students are becoming more aware of the importance of gaining a relevant and internationally recognised accreditation.

The enormous potential of Minecraft: Education Edition in Education
We were privileged to learn from the Minecraft Education Edition guru himself, Stephen Reid, CEO of Immersive Minds in Scotland. Game-based learning is not a new phenomenon but the extent to which Minecraft Education Edition informs on Problem-based Learning (PBL) is truly inspirational. The opportunities for the teacher in a variety of subject areas - including cross-curricular - was evident in the number and scale of virtual worlds that Stephen Reid and his students from different parts of the world had created. For a day and a half, Mr Reid guided the E2 delegates in groups in their innovative attempts to find a solution to an important South African problem using Minecraft. Collaboration, communication, creative thinking and critical analysis were necessary ingredients and the resulting project enabled each of us to understand not only what Minecraft could produce, but what an enormous learning experience game-based learning can be. The created world offered by Minecraft provides a very real and relevant experience that I believe is difficult to emulate in any other teaching and learning experience.

A 'game-breaker' conference
Thank you to the SA Microsoft team headed by Angela Schaerer from Microsoft and Megan Rademeyer from SchoolNet, for hosting a 'game-breaker' conference. Thank you to Sonja Delafosse and Stephen Reid for joining us on our journey.

SchoolNet free webinar 'Coding - it's not scary- it's easy and it's free...' by MIEExpert Charmaine Roynon on 27 June at 3:30pm

We are pleased to announce that our next free webinar, 'Coding - it's not scary- it's easy, it's free and it promotes cerebral fitness!' will be held on Tuesday 27th June at 3:30pm. Our speaker will be Charmaine Roynon, a Microsoft MIEExpert from Cape Town. Charmaine is the ICT Integrator at Wynberg Girl’s Junior School, and she is also Head of Curriculum Development and Teacher Training at EDU 365 SA. Charmaine is very interested in coding and its importance to our learners and she recently ran a Coding Conference at her school for teachers around Cape Town. She says, "I started exploring the world of coding, it's educational impact and why it is often referred to as "21st Century Oxygen". After doing some research, I discovered some incredible coding websites that are interactive, engaging and include teaching functions in the form of short video clips to guide users through each process. All this - for free!"We invite you to hear what Charmaine has to say about coding on our SchoolNet free webinar.

Webinar details
Webinar title: Coding - it's not scary- it's easy, it's free and it promotes cerebral fitness
Presenter: Charmaine Roynon, MIEExpert, ICT Integrator at Wynberg Girl’s Junior School, and Head of Curriculum Development and Teacher Training at EDU 365 SA, Charmaine is also a member of the NAPTOSA Pro Gro and Professional Development teams in the Western Cape where they present and deliver 2 ½ day educational conferences.
Summary: Charmaine says: "I have spent many years supporting teachers in their ICT integration journey. Sometimes I have to expose teachers to material that I am not so sure of myself! So, in line with the saying: "If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try." (Seth Godin), I started exploring the world of coding, it's educational impact and why it is often referred to as "21st Century Oxygen". After doing some research, I discovered some incredible coding websites that are interactive, engaging and include teaching functions in the form of short video clips to guide users through each process. All this - for free! The coding community have really come together to enable and empower young people to develop computational thinking, problem solving and logical thinking and many other competencies! In 36 years in education, this has got to be one of the easiest things I have ever done - with (by far) the most impact. Join me on my journey into the invigorating and exciting world of coding - made easy! "
Date: Tuesday 27th June, 3:30pm
Duration: 15-30 minutes
Host: Fiona Beal
To join the online meeting

Even if you have attended an Adobe Connect meeting before you will need to install a free add-in. To investigate this, test your connection:

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Grade 10-11 learners are invited to join Microsoft for the free YouthSpark Live Event at Brescia House School this week - on 23rd and 24th June

A message from Angela Schaerer from Microsoft:
Microsoft and Brescia House School in Johannesburg are excited to invite you to code and create with us at the Youth Spark Live Event in Johannesburg this week!

As the Education Teacher Engagement Manager at Microsoft, I would like to invite your school to join other young people from around the region for the two-day YouthSpark Live event taking place this week. Microsoft SA would be honoured to include you in this event. We hope you can join us for what promises to be an exciting and inspiring two days. Coding is creative! Imagine,have fun, and be creative in a whole new way!

What is Youth Spark?
YouthSpark Live, is a global community enabling youth to collaborate, inspire and support each other while using technology to spark change.

Where and when?
Venue: Brescia House School, 14 Sloane Street, Bryanston, JHB
Parking: Parking is available in the Bryanston Catholic Church Parkade 18 Sloane Street, Bryanston. The Church Parkade is accessed through the Sloane Shopping Centre, and has a back pedestrian gate into the school grounds. There will be direction signs that point from the Parkade to the School’s St Ursula’s Resource Centre.
Date:    23rd & 24th June 2017
Time:    Friday, 23 June 2017: 13h00 – 18h00
             Saturday, 24 June 2017: 09h00 – 15h10

What is the agenda?
DAY 1: Friday 23rd June
Guest arrival
Welcome remarks and Content review introduction
Panel discussion – Career in IT
Group photo
Late lunch and networking
Icebreaker activity
Computer Science Unplugged Activity
Minecraft Hour of Code Activity
Closing and departure

DAY 2: Saturday 24th June
Welcome remarks
YouthSpark Hub and SMART goals
Minecraft Training
Using Minecraft to address South Africa challenges
Lunch and networking
Modelling solutions in Minecraft
Group sharing

How many can come?
The requirements are:
20 learners per school
Grades 10 & 11 (learners who’ve shown interest in careers in IT)
*All equipment will be provided         
How do I register?
To register, click here.
Use #YouthSpark on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram

Monday, 19 June 2017

'Grade 7 E-Day June 2017' A really inspiring post from Anthony Peters from Parklands College

This is another amazing guest post from Anthony Peters @apeters522, Anthony is a very innovative English High School teacher from Parklands College in CapeTown, who delights in using technology in his High School English classes very creatively. We are always very happy when Anthony submits a post to us. You can view his 14 previous posts on our blog via the 'Anthony Peters' label  under Quick links on the right side.

"E-days have always been something to look forward to, if not for the plethora of innovative tasks that the educators come up with, then for the opportunity to take one’s classes from the comfort of one’s sofa or bed! For Grade 7 last Friday, this was no different!

What is E-day?
An E-day consists of learners (usually grades 7 – 9) completing their academic day in the comfort of their own homes! The educators utilise the latest versatile technology in order to monitor and guide the learners through a series of subject-specific tasks. Such technology used for this latest Grade 7 E-Day included: the Google Suite, Quizizz, Explain Everything, YouTube and Pic Collage.

The focus - Advertising!
In preparation for their first formal English examinations this June, all seventy of the grade 7 learners have been participating in a variety of tasks to help them revise all the concepts covered so far. E-Day focused on advertising, the principles of AIDA and the subliminal rhetoric companies often employ in order to persuade one to reach for the wallet! All the instructions for E-Day were delivered to learners via Google Classroom and an integrated Google Doc. 

Task 1
The first task the learners had to complete was watching a short revision video on advertising. I made the video using Explain Everything and then posted it to YouTube and inserted the link into the Google Doc. The learners then had to complete a fast-paced Quizizz quiz based on the video’s content.

Quizizz is a fantastic free app that enables the educator to gamify learning to the extreme! Real-time rankings, fun educator-made memes for right and wrong answers, themed backgrounds and a funky sound track are just some examples of the exciting functionality. Even matric learners enjoy using it! Although I was at school and the learners were at home, I could monitor all their scores in real-time and award digital merits instantaneously to those who achieved 80% or more in their final results!

Task 2
As we all know, Fidget Spinners are the latest craze to descend upon schools worldwide. Therefore, the English Department embraced the philosophy, “If you can’t beat them, join them!” Therefore, the final English E-Day task required the learners to create their own Fidget Spinner advertisements using another free app called Pic Collage. The learners were suitably engaged and were required to demonstrate their understanding of the language area (advertising) in an innovative, constructivist, and crucially ‘persuasive’ way.

One particularly intuitive group even made a recorded advertisement on iMovie.

The learners will be showcasing their advertisements this week in order to meet the expectations of the curriculum and public speaking, as well as to encourage some budding advertisers realise their potential.

Reflecting on E-Day
E-Day demonstrated the limitless potential technology has on facilitating constructive learning even when the educator and learner are kilometers away from each other! I am a big fan of Google and Apple technology and I use it in every lesson but E-Day showed me that I was able to create and run everything from my iPad, arguably the greatest piece of technology I’ve ever come across!

Two forms of pedagogy this project utilised were ‘learner-centered understanding’ and ‘flipped-learning’ and again, this blended harmoniously with the aforementioned technology."
-Anthony Peters

Friday, 16 June 2017

Useful Google In Education posts this week #102

After looking through all the Google posts that were shared to our various subscriptions recently, these are a selection that look useful for teachers link to previous posts can be found here