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An overview of my Microsoft Innovative Education Forum Learning adventure.

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Not long after the dust has settled on the 2010 UK Innovative Teacher Forum and I find some time to reflect and post the resources used.

The event this year was held in Manchester and I would like to congratulate the UK Partners in Learning Team for putting together another event that was characterised by learning conversations.  There seemed to be a real buzz throughout the two days. 

I am also very excited, happy and proud to have one of the Geography team here at Priory School selected as one of the European Award Winners.  Jo Debens (@GeoDebs) will be heading to Moscow in March next year. She will also be presenting at the Geographical Association’s Annual Conference about the project.  The Space Explorers: Place Creators project focused on empowering young people to make decisions and engage with change. Well done Jo! Check out Jo’s posts about the project here: http://debensgeog.wordpress.com/

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What follows is an overview of my personal adventure through the event.

Monday evening saw a gathering in the Cloud 23 bar for #itmeet an informal meeting of (mainly) teachers.  There were some great presentations, notably from Dawn Hallybone (@dawnhallybone) on being a ‘Game Girl’ with games based learning and Jen Deyenberg (@jdeyenberg) on geoaching.  I particularly enjoyed seeing an image of good friend Ollie Bray (@olliebray) on an actual mountain and telling Jen that everything is always Ollie’s fault ;)

My presentation at #itmeet focussed on taking risks in learning. The resources are below:

The main point I tried to make with the slides is that:

  • Gove isn’t in my classroom, department or school. Although the White Paper doesn’t mention technology or creativity, that doesn’t mean that will stop.  In fact, maybe it’s a positive as maybe technology has become the norm so doesn't need to be mentioned ;-)
  • We need as a profession to focus on making learning great for young people.
  • Learning should be an adventure to somewhere new.
  • Always having a pre-defined learning outcome can sometimes hamper this.
  • By signposting learning too much, maybe we are blocking off potential adventures of exploration.

I then used the Dice of Destiny to talk about some specific example. Here is a link to the OneNote that I referred to. I only got to talk about 3 or 4 of the ideas, as I wanted the learning to be random! Most of the ideas have been posted on this blog previously.

I think that the Teacher Meeting was successful as product placement took a back seat, there was a relaxed atmosphere and the quality of all presentations was good.  There was also an attempt to engage the audience through Post It Note sessions, but I feel that most delegates were off task talking about the proceeding presentations.

I would like to end Monday’s description with how much I enjoyed the Karaoke session organised by Dan Roberts (@chickensaltash), but his organisational skills let him down!

Tuesday saw the main event. The two keynote sessions were excellent and it was a real testament of the event’s organisers. I’m still reflecting on them, and putting in to place some actions so will post later on them

What I enjoyed most about the event was the chance to speak to the most of the 10 award winners. The atmosphere of the event allowed for easy networking, and as there wasn’t too much crammed in to the programme there were many opportunities to chat to people.

Also, the event reinforced my impression of the Partners in Learning network: a bunch of people who are all about learning and recognising teachers that make learning exciting, effective and engaging.

I was also privileged to be asked to present a workshop at the event, and the slides can be found embedded below. Thank you to all who took part in the workshops and who got involved in exploring a little piece of Manchester with some naughty learning :-) My favourite image of the day is the one at the top of the post of a dry swimming dive.

The main points from the workshop included:

  • Naughty learning is engaging
  • Outdoor Learning needn’t mean big trips. The ordinary can be extraordinary. The school playing field can be turned into an area for exploration.
  • Technology provides young people with a record of their adventures and can form the basis of further learning
  • Sometimes it’s the discussions and non-subject specific learning that is the most exciting.

Finally, thank you to all who provided food for thought, laughs and adventure!

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