Islands of Excellence and Microsoft’s Partners in Learning @MakeWavesHere
I connected with Jenn @jennzia on Twitter last spring when I was presenting my work from my masters thesis. She told me about her vision of islands of excellence of having a great meeting with great people. The event was exactly that! Taking place at the YMCA Academy, the day modelled what great learning should look like. The unconference style allowed for maximum participation and sharing amongst the many talented and experienced people.
I got to connect with teachers in all fields, admin, community activists, and everyone in between. It was great seeing so many other leaders in their fields working towards the common goal of providing the best possible learning experience for students. The conversations were great starting points for change and really challenged the status quo.
Microsoft sponsored my entrance which was greatly appreciated. I have been using many of Microsoft’s products from lessons planned, presented and interacted with the Office Suite. I use PowerPoint for my lessons, it is easy to integrate videos, pictures, and I can save the PowerPoint for my students who missed the class so they are always caught up. I use Microsoft Word to create my handouts as it is an easy platform to create in. The most memorable and innovative was connecting with a school in Kenya using Skype. The level of engagement was huge when my students got to discuss the environment with teens from Kenya. Skype allowed for a global connection and a partnership across an ocean. Here is a posted part of the call http://youtu.be/QqLEMyCZkao. I then shared skype with other teachers and they started making these connections as well.
I have also used choice board activities where students can choose programs like Microsoft Publisher, PowerPoint, and Movie Maker to present on a topic. The last time they had to design a green product and many used the above software to make brochures on the products, advertisements and commercials.
I use twitter to communicate with other teachers around the world as I can find those with the same issues. When I find specific educators I use Skype to connect. I have used Skype to chat with university professors around the world, other teachers and classrooms.
I love to integrate critical pedagogy into my science lessons and is part of my educational philosophy. With the Skype session with Kenya that was very critical. We looked at issues that affected us locally but had a global impact. We always discuss who are the key players, decision makers in science. I also stress the importance of looking how science links to society, the environment and technology. We are an interdependent system that requires a critical lens.