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    Thanks you all for your kind comments regarding our experiment of merging the Schools and Teachers blog. Many of you felt it was a good idea, as you were able to see the full range of offerings from the Microsoft Education Team. But, the majority, like David Rogers from Priory Community School felt that whilst it’s great to see that, most teachers want great practical advice and examples in the use of technology in learning and teaching, without having to look for that amongst other information. So that’s why we are back and prepared to meet that need.

    So lets start with a great story of how a teacher who discovered Partners in Learning through this blog. Gareth Ritter from Willows High School in Cardiff has won the most outstanding use of technology in in Education in Wales and joins four other exceptional teachers in the National teaching awards, which will be announced in October.

    What the Teaching Awards judges said about Gareth:
    "There is no doubt that Gareth is an exceptional Music teacher who is making a vast difference not only in the teaching of his subject but to student's lives, colleague's development and the whole school ethos.
    Gareth has made a significant impact on the whole school community, through his innovative teaching methods and technological creativity. He has an innate ability to understand the needs of his students and, not only skilfully uses technology in his subject to engage and motivate his students in studying music, but as way to show them how they can achieve success in other subjects and in the life!

    Gareth adds this award to his Partners in Learning Global Award, which he won at our Global Forum in Washington DC in 2011. From this video you see Gareth’s enthusiasm and passion for his work and students.

    Award winning teacher Gareth Ritter

    Gareth describes working with Partner in Learning as ‘the best CPD I have ever had’, you can start your CPD journey by joining the Partners in Learning at– Join for free today

    Please join me in congratulating Gareth by leaving a comment below.

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    Kodu has been one the great successes we have had in Partners in Learning this year. Over 71k downloads in the UK, over 400 students have entered the Kodu Kup UK, teachers, like Nicki Maddams have won awards with for their work with Kodu and 100s of teachers have said how fantastic Kodu is to teach programming and computational thinking. But, with everything else in life its hard cold facts that count.

    Kodu1So we would like to invite you to complete a simple survey asking you your thoughts about Kodu and our KoduKup UK..

    Click this link to complete the survey.


    This will assist Microsoft in understanding your school's use of this visual programming language and games lab environment which allows students from KS2/3 upwards to design and build three dimensional games using either a PC or an XBox and XBox controller. KODU for Kids

    For every completed survey Microsoft Partners in Learning UK will send you a FREE copy of the amazing 528 page book 'KODU for Kids', saving you over £18.**


    ** Offer only available to UK Schools. One book per school.

    Join the Partners in Learning Network today –

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    Get Online @ Home launches £24 PC, with broadband from just £2.99 per month, to help the 10.8 million Brits who do not use the internet

    From 11th June 2013, the Get Online @ Home initiative is launching a £24 refurbished PC with broadband from £2.99 per month, to help the staggering number of digitally excluded Brits get online – including 10.8 million aged 15 and over who do not use the internet, 16 million who still don’t have basic online skills, and 800,000 of the most disadvantaged UK schoolchildren who do not have home internet access.

    With at least 75% of jobs now requiring online applications and the Government wanting 80% of submissions for universal credit to be online, and potential savings of £3 billion a year if the digitally excluded shopped online – this new offer could be a lifesaver and help get Britain booming.

    Created in direct response to the huge consumer need, this price (less than £60 per annum) is a fraction more than the cost of a typical family weekly shop. Get Online @ Home is providing:

    For those on eligible benefits– A refurbished PC for £24 with a choice of broadband deals from the top UK providers, with prices starting from £2.99 per month, or a refurbished laptop for £74 plus the same broadband costs. Both include Windows 7 Pro with Microsoft Office Basic – which have an estimated retail price of £150.

    For those not on eligible benefits – A refurbished PC for £74 with broadband from £2.99 or a refurbished laptop for £104 plus the same broadband costs. Both include Windows 7 with Microsoft Office Home and Student.

    To benefit from this deal people need to call 0800 090 1297 (8am – 9pm Monday – Friday; 9am-6.30pm Saturday; 10am – 6.30pm Sunday), or visit A start-up leaflet will help get the new owner going and there are lots of useful guides on the website.

    The offer is made possible thanks to Microsoft supplying the software, broadband comparison experts Simplifydigital providing the range of broadband deals from top UK providers, and Partners IT, among others, supplying the hardware.

    Chris Williams, at Get Online @ Home says:

    “We are delighted to be able to make this extraordinary deal available to offer real help to people that need it. Never before has anything like it been made possible and we know it will benefit all those who have previously not been able to get online.”

    Baroness Lane-Fox, who established Go ON UK which aims to make the UK the most digitally skilled nation in the world says:

    “With the cost of internet access cited as a key reason for not being online, this is an incredible saving and will transform the lives of everyone that hasn’t been able to get online before.  With so much online now, from paying bills and banking to job applications, connecting with people and getting the very best deals, being online is no longer a nice to have, it is an essential.”

    Since launch in 2011, Get Online @ Home has supplied over 23,000 computers across the UK. All the refurbished PCs and laptops are designed to do the basics well, with minimum spec of 60Gb harddrive and 2GHz processor.

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    imageJust in case you missed this on the Schools Blog. My latest post on my secret passion for PowerPoint.


    In my constant quest to maintain and increase the awesomeness of PowerPoint, I thought I would share with you some previous posts outlining some great features that you may not have thought of before.

    PowerPoint Power Up #1– LiveWeb View add-in– add live pages to your slides.

    PowerPoint Power Ups #2–Interactive text boxes in presentations– type directly into your slides during a presentations.

    PowerPoint Power Up #3–Logos and Vectors– create image and drawing tools in PowerPoint.

    PowerPoint Power Up #4- Mind control! – How colours and fonts affect your audience.

    PowerPoint Power Up #5 –ZoomIT– use this great app to zoom in and out of your slides.

    I have heard the great Prof. Stephen Heppell talk about how we teach children to present using PowerPoint. Now, we have all sat through excruciating presentations, especially at staff meetings. He suggests that perhaps we should teach students to perform rather than present. So, I have started thinking about this from the point of view of how students control and interact with their presentation and found a few great little apps that add a whole new dimension to presenting. So creating opportunities for students to think differently about how they interact with their presentation and the audience.


    imageWe have all seen the gesture control in Sci-films films like Minority Report, in real life, there is Kinect and there are some great resources available that could be utilised to control PowerPoint, such as those created by the K-Team . But, if you a looking for something a little simpler then try Flutter, this a great little free app for Windows that uses a webcam to recognise some simple gestures. Primarily designed to control media players, it can be used to move through slide in a PowerPoint presentation. This encourages presenters to move away from the PC and have their hands free.




    Controlling PowerPoint with a games controller can offer a real performance dimension to presenting. First, download Xpadder. It’s not free, but at only $9.99 it’s great value. Xpadder allows students to program different functions to buttons and joysticks on a games controller. A single USB Xbox controller can used to emulate a number of key combinations in PowerPoint. Such as the Space Bar to advance a slide, P to access a previous slide or Ctrl+P to use the ink features. Mouse movements can be assigned to joysticks and if a background application is running such as ZoomIT, then functions of that app can be added as well. Collaboration between ‘performers’ can be expanded further if a wireless Xbox controller is used, then this allows up to four students to interact with a presentation. A whole different dimension can be added if an Xbox Guitar or Dance mat is used instead as a controller. This really opens up the whole idea of performing. Try it with your students.

    Makey, Makey

    imageFinally, here is one of those off the wall ideas that could possibly inspire you. Makey, Makey is a little board of electronics that allow students to create their own controllers out of almost anything. Such silver foil, plasticine, fruit (bananas are great), even pencil drawing. There is no programming involved as the board emulates a range of keyboard keys and mouse clicks. This makes ideal for students to build their own controller to control their PowerPoint presentations.

    Here are some great examples from one of our award winning Partners in Learning teachers, Gareth Ritter.

    A Banana Piano

    A paper instrument

    A floor Piano

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    After 5 months of game development competition , 150 games entered, representing 450 students we have now selected our eleven finalists who are invited to attend the grand Kodu Kup UK final on July 5th.

    Our select panel of judges have chosen the following Teams and their games as our Kodu Kup UK finalists.Trophy

    Game School
    Desert Breakdown Bushfield School
    Factory Polluted Planet Barlows Primary
    Kodu Koldasack Cadoxton Primary
    Bowser’s Duel Hampden Gurney CoE Primary
    Nexus Afon Taf High School
    Hyper Space invaders Lister Community School
    Mario Kart Minehead Middle School
    Exploration of Mars Oasis Academy
    Cycle & the Jetataur Putney High School
    Galaga Walthamstow Academy
    The dark side of Mars Afon Taf High School

    We have chosen 11 finalists as the standard of the games was so high and the judging process couldn’t identify ten clear finalists.

    Congratulations to all these teams. We will be sending your school an email with details of the final and we look forward to seeing you on the 5th July at Microsoft Headquarters in Reading.

    Thank you to all those teachers and students who have taken part in this year’s Kodu Kup UK. The standard of all the games was extremely high and made the judging process extremely difficult. We will be releasing our official certificate of participation shortly and we look forward to your entries in next year’s completion.

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    As you have probably seen already, last week we announced our Kodu Kup Finalists. The judging process was very close and due to the standards being so high we even ended up selecting eleven finalists instead of the ten we had originally planned.


    We have an exciting day at Microsoft HQ planned for all of them next Friday in which they will each get to present to our panel of judges, as well as have the opportunity to play each other’s games and take a look around Microsoft HQ!

    Now, just for fun we have uploaded each of their games to the Kodu Game Lab website so you all have an opportunity to imageplay their games. The link here will take you to the full list. Once you have played some of the games it would be great if you or your students could leave some comments as feedback and even rate them using the star-ratings on the site. Remember, this is just for fun and will have no effect on the final decision made by the judges on the day!

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    Through out this blog we have introduced you to some outstanding teachers, Such as :- Nicki Maddams, Dan Roberts, Gareth Ritter and Ollie Bray. These teachers joined us through what was then called the Innovative Teachers programme or the Partners in Learning Teachers Programme. Well our branding department has been working overtime and these guys would now be called ‘Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts ’, as the new name that we use in Partners in Learning globally for recognising great learning and teaching expertise and highlighting them as what epitomises a great and outstanding teacher. The focus is on their achievements, it’s not just about technology, its not even just about our technology. It about them being great educators, demonstrating innovation and being an expert in that doing that (even if they don’t realise it themselves) so the new title of Innovative Educator Expert  is , in my opinion, a good one.

    So can any one be a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert? ( I will shorten this to MIEE for the rest of this post Smile )
    Well simply the answer is yes ! But, there is always a but, we place a high regard on this title. So we need Educators to tell us what they are doing in the classroom, in their schools and the impact it has on learners. Previously we had a mechanism called the ‘Virtual Classroom Tour’ this has acted as a CPD portfolio and a competition entry into our Education Forums. This has been replaced by a more robust, but I am afraid, detailed application form. You can find this here on the Partners in Learning Network .

    The application form asks the usual questions, about your background, your use of social media in the classroom etc. But , perhaps the three questions that you will need to do some preparation for are:-

    The Queen of Kodu


    • Create a 2-3 minute non-professionally produced video that describes your learning activity and how the project used technology and innovative teaching practices to impact student outcomes – This needs to be uploaded to YouTube and the URL pasted into your application. Here is a great example of such a video from Nicki Maddams.


    • How did this project impact student outcomes? – For me this is the key question in defining a MIEE.

    Once you have started your application it is saved in draft form. Once you have completed it, with all the necessary elements, you are ready to submit it. You have until September 30th before the application  process closes.

    We will then select our Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts for next year. As an added incentive we will choose from these who should accompany us to our next Global Forum.


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    imageI suppose the same question can be asked of ‘How long is a piece of string?’ .Many of us think we know what ‘the Cloud’ is, many of us use web based technology in our everyday lives, from banking to socialising. But, what does the Cloud really offer education.

    It was working with our partners in the South West Grid for Learning when I came across their ‘Cloud Education ICT Design’ project. CEID for short. They have kindly allowed me to share a brief outline of it with you, as I think it will be of help to many of you teachers out there.

    What is the Cloud?

    CEID describes this simply as ICT delivered to the user over the Internet, rather than from systems based in the same place as the user. Imagine how many services yourselves, colleagues and students use that are web based. This is the cloud.

    Why is it called ‘cloud’?

    I thought because it was ‘out there somewhere’ in the sky , but it’s a actually based on the image used to represent complex technical systems in diagrams. I prefer my definition.

    So what are the benefits of Cloud ICT?

    CEID describe a few of the potential benefits as :- improved flexibility, better value for money, complete consistency, reliability and high accessibility.

    Sounds too good to be true doesn't it, but there are risks. Such as  the culture shock, level of service, privacy and security. So to understand all these and many other factors and issues, the SWGfL team have developed the CEID project.

    The project aims to do the following three things:-

    • Build a large and accurate picture of the status of cloud ICT in education.
    • Inform and influence the cloud ICT market.
    • Design and procure cloud ICT services for education.

    So if Cloud ICT is on your list of things to do, then why not make a start by undertaking the following:-


    I hope to report the results of that survey once it has been completed later in the year.


    For support and help with Office 365 – Join the Partners in Learning Network

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    The Kodu Kup finals.
Photograph: Rosie Hallam.

    It’s Sunday evening as I write this, the British & Irish Lions have won the rugby, Andy Murray has won Wimbledon, but for me nothing tops the Kodu Kup UK final held last Friday. Eleven teams did battle to win the coveted honour of overall Kodu Kup champions and they didn’t disappoint. This was always planned as a student focused event, yet the quality of the presentations and pitches to the judges were good enough to grace even the highest level of any conference.

    It was clear that this competition was not just about programming and creating a game, it also involved collaboration, business planning, marketing and presentation skills these were all evident in the fantastic presentations

    The Kodu Kup finals.
Photograph: Rosie Hallam.I must publicly thank the judges, Nicki Maddams, Theo Chin, Gary Carr and Ray Chambers who had the almost impossible task of selecting the top 3 teams. But , they did and the winners are :-

    in 3rd Place– Putney High School -  Jasmine Allen,Kendal Smithers and Tilda Head with their game Cycle & the Jetatur 

    in 2nd Place– Lister Community School - Akif Baruchi, Kevin Nguyen and Zakariya Haji with their game Hyper Space Invaders

    in 1st Place and Microsoft Kodu Kup UK 2013 Champions – Afon Taf High School - Kayleigh Bennett, Shauna Coates and Holly Bridges with their games The Dark side of Mars

    The Kodu Kup finals.
Photograph: Rosie Hallam.

    You can download the winning games from the Kodu Game Lab site all the resources from the Kodu Kup can be still found on the UK Partners in Learning Network –

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  • 07/12/13--05:16: Windows 8 Appedagogy
  • We have all heard of Bloom’s taxonomy, the classification of learning objectives within education and there are many examples of how Apps have had their function applied to this classification, so I thought I would set myself the task of trying to create a set of Apps for a Windows device in particular my Surface RT. So this is my first draft at his and is no way meant to a definitive list. I have also discovered a number of APP puns, which I have been able to APPly and make no APPologies for.

    To find these Apps, search for their name in the Windows Storeclip_image001

    Over the next few weeks I will be blogging on how these Apps can be used in the classroom. I am sure I will find some really useful, other perhaps not so. But ,please join me and try these apps for yourselves, share and comment your findings and together we can produce a list that will meet everybody’s APProval.

    Also , APP puns will be gratefully APPreciated.

    App Name

    Brief Description

    Proposed Bloom Category

    OneNote– take notes by typing , writing, take screen clippings and annotate, the desktop versions allow video and voice note. All searchable all instantly saved. OneNote is the must have App for your Windows device

    This is my number one app. Available as a free App, a Desktop, and free Phone Version. Also available as a Web App, and on other devices. All have different functionality but all are compatible with each other.

    This is the area I will be working on over the next few week any suggestion of where these Apps fit into Bloom’s will be gratefully received


    Personal Cloud Storage

    Adobe Photoshop Express

    Photo editing App

    Arcsoft Showboz

    Video Editing


    A great paint App

    Blink Cliplets

    Capture Images, and create great effects

    QR Creator

    Generate QR codes


    Stop Frame Animation Creator


    Simple Video Editor


    A Photo Editing App

    Comic Tailor

    Create your own Comics


    Stop Frame Animation Creator

    Movie Edit Touch

    A video Editor


    Paint with Words

    Fractal Photographer

    Generate Fractals

    Skitch Touch

    Annotate captured images

    Essay Marker

    Create your own Essay Marking rubric

    Evernote Touch

    Note taking App

    Moment of Wave

    Sound Recorder

    Bing Translator

    Translate text via typing or through the camera

    Nova Mindmapping

    Create Mind Maps


    Analyse Team games

    Video Coaching Pal

    Record and analyse sport performance, also great in Science

    Health & Fitness

    Create and monitor you exercise and diet

    New App in Windows 8.1


    Create Photo Montage


    Create and access AudioBoo


    Simple doodling App


    It’s Skype


    A collection of useful tools

    Record Voice & Pen

    Draw and narrate diagrams

    Sound recorder

    A simple sound recorder

    Aviary Photo Editor

    A photo editor with lots of effects


    QR Code Reader


    App to access Wikipedia


    Ebook Reader

    Khan Academy

    App to access Khan Academy


    A cloud based workspace


    Download Youtube Videos


    Explore the night sky

    Reading List

    Collect articles to read

    New App in Windows 8.1


    Create scrapbooks using Pinterest

    Music Maker Jam

    A simple music creator

    Draw Notes for Skydrive

    Draw notes and save to skydrive

    Map Notes for Skydrive

    Save maps and places to Skydrive

    Voice Notes for Skydrive

    Record Voice notes straight to Skydrive

    Collabor8r for Skydrive

    Another Tool to use Skydrive

    Corinth Micro Plant

    Explore a plant to microsocopic level

    Corinth Anatomy Augmented

    Explore the human body in AR

    Kids Story Builder

    Create visual stories with narration

    Ball Strike

    A Kinect type game for Win 8


    Access Wordpress

    ToonVolt Cartoons

    Create your own Cartoons

    Paint a Story

    Paint and animate a story or diagram

    Life Moments

    Create a photo diary


    Create images from text


    Create stop frame animations

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    If you are still unsure why Computing should be in the ICT curriculum, then check out this video of our Kodu Kup UK Final, it will change your mind.

    Kodu Kup UK Final–A great day

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    Blog on KoduKup UK by Gerald Haigh

    The Kodu Kup finals.
Photograph: Rosie Hallam.On Friday 5th July, was I fortunate to be at Microsoft’s Thames Valley Park HQ when the eleven teams of young finalists of the UK’s first KoduKup competition presented their games to the judges . It was an inspirational occasion that captured the respect and admiration of all the adults who were there. The event itself is well described in the various enthusiastic blogs recording the details -- the brilliant teams who came first, second and third, what they won (cool stuff!) who the judges were. There’s this Teachers’ Blog with some great images.

    Also on the Schools Blog at

    and this personal and enthusiastic account by teacher Nicki Maddams (@GeekyNicki) who worked on the organisation of the competition and was a judge at the finals.

    The Kodu Kup finals.
Photograph: Rosie Hallam.Reflecting on creativity

    I’ve had a little more thinking time, than those early bloggers, which gives me the opportunity to reflect on some of the wider issues around Kodu in general and the KoduKup in particular. So, for instance, having spotted Jan Webb, ICT Consultant with the ICT Association ‘NAACE’, at the event, I called her next day to collect her own take on what we’d seen and on Kodu itself. For her, yes, it was about programming, but she was at least as interested in the wider aspects – creativity, cross-curricular work, innovative ways of learning.

    ‘Kodu’s a really creative way of addressing some of the meat of the national curriculum. It helps self-directed learning, but in a supported way.’

    Jan was particularly interested to see how the teams had explored possibilities, prepared both to tackle obstacles and go around them.

    ‘One of the most powerful things that one of those children said was that they weren’t afraid of getting things wrong. Now that’s an important message about creativity and computing -- that it’s OK not to get it right first time. That’s what computer programmers do’

    That word ‘creativity’ constantly crops up in any educational discussion. To many teachers, though, it sounds off-puttingly vague. ‘OK, I have to be creative. But what do I actually have to do when I go into the classroom?’

    What’s needed, of course, is a framework, a starting point. That’s what you get with Kodu, which begins with the creation of a world. That’s always going to be a winner for children. When I was at school, my headteacher told my mother that I was too often in a world of my own. But don’t all children yearn for other worlds? To be able build one with Kodu that’s your own, different from everyone else’s, is the start of a big adventure because your world then becomes the setting for your own story. It’ll be a great story, too, with tricks, traps, frustrations and bits that make you laugh. You can build it on your own, or you can work with your classmates. On the way you realise that no project proceeds calmly from start to finish. So you will argue about it, change it, chuck it out and start again if needs be, and then yell and high-five each other when it finally works just as you wanted. (Well, almost anyway)

    Broadening the reachThe Kodu Kup finals.
L to R: Holly Bridges, Kayleigh Bennett and Shauna Coates from Afon Taf school.
Photograph: Rosie Hallam.

    Think about that, and it becomes clear that Kodu can reach across the curriculum and to all children. Talking to ICT teachers at the KoduKup Final, I found some who are already in contact with other subject leaders, because it’s difficult to think of a curriculum area that couldn’t be enhanced by Kodu– geography, English, science, maths, history.

    Importantly, too, Kodu is inclusive. At the KoduKup final we saw young people from early primary school to the top of secondary, girls and boys. Children with special needs were there, too, although the judges didn’t know that. Why should they?

    The event was won by a team of girls – ‘Artemis’, from Afon Taf High School In fact the gender balance of the whole event was hugely encouraging for anyone keen to see computing and gaming demolishing the ‘male geek’ stereotype. ‘Artemis’, in fact, showed a wonderful ‘geek’ image to illustrate that point, and were able, without banging a drum, to get that message across by building into their presentation their wish to inspire more girls to enter the gaming industry. They made a point of asking the judges about this.

    Engagement, passion and commitment

    Whatever the results of the competition, there’s no doubt that Kodu is a winner with students and teachers. ‘There are no behaviour management issues,’ said Ingrid Noland, ICT teacher at Walthamstow Academy. ‘Except when you tell them it’s time to stop.’

    And Stacey Freeman, teacher at Barlows Primary, says,

    ‘They love it to the point where they asked us how to get it at home, and a lot of the ones who have internet access have downloaded it.’

    In fact the typical pattern for a KoduKup team is that they will have worked on Kodu in class, and then taken it forward out of school hours, either in a club or at home.

    ‘They’re often back in my room at lunchtime,’ says Ingrid Nolan.

    So here’s a bona-fide, core curriculum resource that children want more and more of. Clearly the challenge is for teachers to catch that tide and make it work not just for computing but for learning as a whole. Stacey Freeman of Barlows Primary encourages children to run development diaries of what’s gone well in their games development.

    ‘They start to ask ‘what if?’ questions. We’re trying to develop them as problem solvers not just to learn to programme for computer science.’

    It really is about coding

    At heart, of course, Kodu is about programming – ‘coding’, using a highly accessible visual language. For many teachers that’s going to be the number one reason for looking at it, given the requirements of the revised National Curriculum. Stuart Ball, Microsoft’s Innovative Teachers Programme Manager, who displayed his teaching roots by hosting the KoduKup final in finely judged, learner-centred style, makes the point that Kodu isn’t in competition with other The Kodu Kup finals.
Photograph: Rosie Hallam.programming tools.

    ‘But there’s no cost involved, and it offers some features that perhaps others don’t. The learning curve for teachers isn’t very steep, and learners adapt quickly to it.’

    The evidence is, though, that Kodu users really are learning, almost without realising it, some fundamental coding principles. Stuart finds that higher level students and programmers easily see that.

    ‘When I show it to graduates they’re blown away, and wish they’d had it when they started, and say that it will bring youngsters into the industry.’

    I had first hand confirmation of that in the encounter I had during the event with Tom Morris, who’s just graduating in computer games technology from John Moores University. Tom, who has been working with children at Barlows Primary School in Liverpool, told me how impressed he was with Kodu, how he’d seen children becoming ‘code literate’, and reaping other benefits, in maths, physics and general problem solving and communication skills.

    ‘If I’d been able to use it when I was younger it would have improved my skills. I started programming at eighteen and it was difficult to grasp. It’s like learning a foreign language -- if you start young, it’s easier.’

    That said, Kodu isn’t just for people who are going to go into professional coding. We live in a world where everyone comes into contact with computer software, and to have no inkling at all of what’s involved is to be at a disadvantage whether as a consumer, a customer, a participant in a meeting, a worker briefed on a new task.

    ‘It’s a broad church now,’ said judge Gary Carr, Creative Director at games studio ‘Lionhead’, when I interviewed him before the event, ‘Part of everyday life.’

    That’s Kodu, then – potentially adding value across the whole curriculum, preparing young people for life, work and leisure.

    The KoduKup journey, though, introduces an extra dimension, a set of new, very 21st Century skills and challenges, to do with teamwork and presentation. The task for the teams was to present their game, ‘Dragons Den’ style, to the judging panel as if to a potential publisher. When I spoke to Gary Carr he was looking forward to seeing how the children met what to him seemed a big challenge.

    ‘It’ll be interesting. Developers are not necessarily comfortable with presenting. They can be quiet, introverted, thinking about stories.’

    But these developers, of course, were children, free from too many inhibitions, and though some of the younger ones had to find reserves of courage – which they did magnificently -- all of them stepped up and performed and were warmly congratulated. They used imaginative blends of video, live talk, mock-interview in a way that should have made some of the teachers and professional presenters in the audience feel a little uncomfortable.

    Finding the right tuneThe Kodu Kup finals.
Photograph: Rosie Hallam.

    I found myself frequently replaying the KoduKup Final in my mind over the following days, because I knew there was a familiar feel to it. Then I realised what it was.

    For a number of years I was a regional and national adjudicator with the National Festival of Music for Youth (NFMY). So many of the messages from that superb event, I realise, were – are – similar to those that were in the air at the KoduKup final. There’s the finely judged combination of competitiveness, good-hearted mutual support, and celebration. Most striking of all, there’s the humbling realisation, in both cases of just how limitless are the capabilities of our children, given the right balance of guidance and freedom, and space to grow. Just as music provides a framework for sublime acts of creativity so a programming language opens up similarly boundless possibilities.

    ‘We Could Do That’.

    I don’t want to push the analogy much further, but I will make one further point, which is that the NFMY, which began in quite a small way in 1971, has grown to the point where it involves 60,000 young people aged 4 to 21 across the UK each year. On the way, it’s created a mighty rolling ‘We could do that!’ effect across thousands of schools and teachers and millions of young people. There’s no doubt that the KoduKup competition will grow in the same way if it becomes annual. Currently, not enough people know enough about Kodu, or about the KoduKup. There’s no doubt, though, that as time goes on they certainly will. Any teacher or school leader – and, more to the point, any student -- who observes the work of the entrants, whether online or at an event, is going to say, ‘We could do that!’

    And there are, of course, lots of reasons why they should.

    You want to know how to ‘do’ creativity? Look no further.

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    imageToday is the 10th anniversary of Partners in Learning, I really can't believe it has been that long. I have had the privilege to be with programme from it’s conception as a teacher and now I have the honour of working  with the most amazing teachers in the UK and the World. I thought it would be apt to celebrate this milestone by sharing the thought of Nicki Madams a Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator and Global Forum Award Winner.

    My Journey with Partners in Learning by Nicki Maddams

    In the last year my Partners in Learning journey has grown incredibly. From winning an award in Prague in December to launching and delivering the Kodu Kup; it has been a real whirlwind.

    clip_image002Let me take you back to the start of my journey. It began in 2010 when a colleague sent me a link to the beta version of some new software, called Kodu Game Lab. As soon as I downloaded it I was hooked and immediately saw the potential of using the software in my classroom. We were already using Scratch to deliver programming in school so another tool to allow learners to create dynamic and interesting games was very exciting, especially as it has 3D graphics! It was great to have another piece of software to help embed logical thinking, problem solving and, of course, programming. I got straight to work designing a scheme of work and teaching resources to enable me to try this out with my students and despite still being at beta stage (and a little buggy) it was very well received by most of them. So I pushed on, refined my scheme of work and delivered training to staff both from my school and others. It seemed I was one of only a few people in the country using the software at the time and as a result of this and my involvement with Microsoft Partners in Learning I was asked to run sessions in other schools with their pupils. Since then I have delivered training to other teachers at many different events both locally in Kent and further afield. I have since continued to develop resources, in particular, last year I ran a 9-week workshop with local primary children around using Kodu with literacy in which the children designed and created story-telling games as well as blogging about their experiences. Additionally, I ran a “Kodu Olympics” competition in school which enabled my students to create Olympic-themed games and I gave out medals and vouchers to the winners.

    Following this I was invited to showcase my work around Kodu Game Lab at the Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Forum in Prague in December 2012 where I was delighted to find I won the award for “Cutting Edge Use of Technology for Learning”!

    Since last September I have been working with Microsoft one day per week on their UK Kodu Kup competition. Before the launch I was responsible for producing a lot of the teachers’ resources and was part of the launch event at BETT back in January. Since then I have been out and about visiting schools, delivering teacher-training sessions and have even visited the House of Lords promoting the competition (alongside my other mission of girls in Tech!). My role also entailed downloading, playing and collating each of the entries ready for the final judging and I was later honoured to be asked to form part of the judging panel on the day which I was really excited about; although I underestimated how difficult this job would be! I have been so impressed with the standard of games produced for this competition, it’s very inspiring to see so many schools are now using Kodu Game Lab as a tool for teaching programming. I know this competition will be even bigger and better next year as more schools hear about it.

    Now that the curriculum is changing Kodu Game Lab will play a vital role in introducing younger children into the world of programming in a non-threatening and engaging way. Kodu is particularly good at attracting primary children into programming and works well with lower secondary. Older students may look towards the forthcoming release of Project Spark, also from Microsoft.

    Start your journey with Partners in Learning sign up for free today at – . You still have time to apply to become Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator – closing date 30th Sept

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    screenshot_09062013_114312During the summer break I set my self the challenge of learning to be a Developer. After all we are asking teachers to learn this skill, so it was a case of ‘practice what you preach’ . My starting point was to find a coding package to learn. That was easy, there are so many free resources available, so I choose Touchdevelop . Next , I needed some help. I found on the Touchdevelop site a series of helpful tutorials and courses and also a couple of names I recognised from the Partners in Learning Network, David Renton and Ray Chambers. A few tweets later and I was ready to go. Or so I thought, Ray (@lanky_boi_ray) asked me ‘What did I want to make?’ . That sort stumped me for awhile , but I suspect it maybe something teachers and students also face. ‘What shall I make?’, a game seemed the obvious choice, but I have Kodu for that. Then Ray offered me a piece of advice. He suggested that ‘is there something that you seemly do repeatedly that an app could replace?’ This was a great start to my thinking, and I quickly found and activity where I spend a lot of time emailing lists of links of free resources, this could be replaced by an App.

    So during my holiday instead of reading, I coded! On my Surface RT I might add. As I worked through my plan , I discovered different techniques and you will probably see some of these in the App. I have purposely left it ‘hobbyist’, hoping that it will inspire people that learning to code is not the difficult task they might perceive it to be and they too can get an App in the Windows Store after three weeks of learning. I can’t lie to you, I feel quite proud of myself.

    So what does the app do?

    The App is a simple menu interface that links the many free resources that not just Partners in Learning has, but have been produces by the whole Microsoft UK Education Team.

    The app is like a ‘one stop shop’ for these resources. So you will find

    • Resources to support Computer Science
    • Windows 8 E- Books
    • A list of Free Win 8 Apps for Education
    • Links to our Education Blogs, Slideshare, Youtube Channel
    • and even links to the blogs of our Rockstar teachers who share their best practice and resources.

    You can download the App for free at the Windows Store

    I would welcome any comments and feedback on this App. I will be updating it regularly, now what shall I try next?

    Thanks to Ray Chambers and Dave Renton for their support and inspiration.

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    PILSR provides individual schools with an online research tool to measure their own innovative teaching practices that develop the skills students need for life and work today. Based on globally-recognized research, the PILSR research tool is international in scope, enables school-specific measurement of innovative teaching, and provides a common language to drive community dialogue and systemic change – all at no cost to schools.

    clip_image001What are the benefits of the online research tool?

    Partners in Learning School Research helps schools achieve a common understanding of innovative teaching practices, educational transformation, and how all parties can collectively move forward.  PILSR is:

    Credible.  The research tool validates the role/importance of ICT and is based on globally-recognized research* that measures innovation in three key areas:

    o Student-centered pedagogy (teaching/learning)

    o Extend learning beyond the classroom

    o ICT** used for teaching and learning

    · Complimentary.  Available at no cost to primary and secondary schools worldwide.

    · Easy/Accessible.  Available online and easy to administer. Set up, distribute surveys, and receive data easily and with minimal time commitment. 

    · Measurable.  School-specific measurement and a path to innovation.  Research data provides factual, school-specific information to empower leaders to make educated, data-driven decisions.

    · Personalized.  Provides school-specific results based on each individual school’s own environment.

    How does the research tool work?clip_image002

    1. Schools sign up using a simple set up wizard:  Sign up for PILN. Identify a research leader. Invite teachers. Invite School leaders. Takes 15-20 minutes to set up.

    2. Distribute Surveys & Reminders

    Easy Distribution:  PILN sends emails that contains survey links, call-to-actions, and deadlines. PILN enables research leaders to see who has and has not taken the surveys and sends reminder emails to complete surveys.

    Invitation to take the school survey


    Monitor your school’s survey progress screen


    Reminder emails are sent to participants who haven’t completed their survey


    3. Use the Report

    Insightful Results:  Once the survey window has closed, a report is generated and available to people who participated in the survey. The report measureselements of innovative teaching practices and compareseducator and school leader responses.

    Below are a few examples of PILSR results.  clip_image006

    § Innovative Teaching Practices Index

    § Student Centered Pedagogy

    § Extending Learning Beyond the Classroom

    § ICT Used for Teaching and Learning by Educators

    § ICT Used for Teaching and Learning by Students

    § Barriers to Technology Use

    § Topicsof Professional Development and Levels of Innovative Teaching Practices

    § Typesof Professional Development and Levels of Innovative Teaching Practices

    § Collaboration among Educators

    § Incentives and Recognition for Innovative Teaching

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    I am pleased to announce our first collaboration with the Tablet Academy

    They are running a training event in December in London about ‘Flipping the Classroom’. From experience I know their courses fill up pretty quickly, because they are awesome. so book your place today at

    Full details are below. Hope to see you there.


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    clip_image004Now I am a Developer ! With my Free Resources App in the Windows Store, I thought I would share one of my other experiments in entering the world of Geekdom.

    I have a Raspberry Pi (RPi) device (it was a gift!), the £25 programmable computer. I have started trying to get my head around setting it up and learning to code on it. Whilst that’s a steep learning curve for me, I also found it a real hassle to plug in all the power, usb ports, monitor , mouse and keyboard every time I wanted to use it. I thought this would probably the same for setting RPIs up in schools. But, I read that devices such as RPi could be controlled and programmed remotely using client software. So I had this idea, could I do that from my amazing Surface RT? Turning into a Surface RPi.

    Firstly, I had to find an SSH client App in the Windows Store, a simple search produced a number of apps . Next, I needed an app that allowed me to code in Python. The coding language used on RPi and is popular in Schools. Again , the Windows store came up trumps and I installed Python for Metro.

    With the Apps in place I just now needed to set it all up. With help from with words I didn’t understand. I discovered the IP address my network was giving the RPi (I did have to set it all up a again to do this, but thankfully only the once). Once I had that, I powered my RPi from the USB port on my Surface RT. This meant the that RPi would connect wirelessly to my network. Remember at this point the only lead connected to th RPi is the USB power cable. Running the SSH app, I entered the IP address and Ta Dah! Connected to the RPi. I could now programme the device using the tools installed on the RPi. But, that still meant I need the RPi connected via the network.

    Could create code and then ‘download’ it to the RPi when I needed to. This is where the Python app came in. Now I can write, copy and edit code whenever and wherever I need to. Then connect with the RPi later and because Win 8 allows you to run multiple apps at the same time. I could test and run the code on the RPi as well.

    This screen shot proves that this works. The RPi via the SSH app is running on the Left and Python app on the right.


    Why is this so useful? Well, as I see it, the beauty of the Raspberry Pi is the ability to program it to control external devices through its GPIO ports. Here I am using it with a Berryclip addon , making lights flash in sequence (BTW , built the clip_image003BerryClip myself, all adding to my Geek credibility). As you can programme in Python and Scratch on any Windows device, you are are not using the real learning potential of the RPi if you are just doing this.

    So why not get your GEEK on and try this with the Surface RTs you have in school or any Windows device, and begin taking full advantage of the Raspberry Pi.

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    imageJust a quick post to let you all know that our Queen of Kodu, Nicki Maddams got married this weekend. Please join me in congratulating her and Kevin in wishing them all the best for the future by leaving your comments here.

    Don’t worry, the new Mrs Cooper will be back with more Kodu greatness after her honeymoon .

    If you don’t know it already , check out Nicki’s superb blog for loads of Kodu and Computer Science resources. – 

    You can join 1000s of other teachers like Nicki on the Microsoft Partners in Learning Network –– Join for free today

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    image To steal a well know UK advertising slogan, ‘If a well known beer producer made Apps, it would be OneNote’. Yes, I know I am biased, but I have been using OneNote since 2003 and now with the rise of the tablet device it is even better.

    The first thing to realise about OneNote is that it comes in a number of flavours. There is the desktop version that is packaged with the Office suite. This has all the features and will run on full Windows 8 Pro devices. You should check that you have it with you current license agreement. Next is the OneNote RT version, that comes preinstalled on the Surface RT device, this almost has the full features of the desktop version , but does not have video or sound recording. Next the Windows 8 OneNote App, this is free from the Windows store for Window 8 and RT devices. Then there is the OneNote Web App accessed through Skydrive or Office 365. Next there is the Windows Phone version and before I forget, a version for iPad, iPhone and Android. You can’t say we are not inclusive at Microsoft.

    Although all these different versions have differing levels of functionality, the documents created in them are all cross compatible.

    So for the un-initiated, what is OneNote. Think of OneNote as a digital piece of paper onto which you can type, write, copy anything from anywhere, search, organise, record voice and video and share. The Web App version allows live collaboration.

    The only thing that paper does that OneNote can’t, is Origami! But there is an app for that.

    If you have Win 8 devices including Surface RT in your schools. I would suggest the first app you should install is the free OneNote app from the Windows Store. The second App should be our Free Resources App which has links to all our free resources and links to even more free great Apps.

    For tutorials and examples of best practice in the classroom using OneNote, Join for free the Microsoft Partners in Learning Network at

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  • 10/28/13--10:08: Be the next best…
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    We have been really fortunate to have worked with some great schools who have helped us convey the Microsoft in education story. These schools have presented at many of our events, partaken in video case studies, appeared numerous times on our blogs and have had access to some top educational resources. We are always looking for new additions to join the UK Microsoft schools family and on  Thursday14th November we will be hosting an online webinar telling you just how.

    Are you a school leader who is interested in helping your school convey its great teaching with technology learning story? Then we would like to invite you to the UK Microsoft Showcase school webinar. The webinar will cover a range of our educational offerings and outline key requirements needed to become an UK MS Showcase school. Naturally, we are looking for schools who are using our services and devices effectively in the classroom. However, if you are at pinnacle point deciding what route to go down then why not join the webinar to see what Microsoft education can offer your school. We have a range of free services and professional development for classroom teachers and school leaders that will help encourage 21st century learning design.

    Showcase school…


    Event details:

    Date: Thursday 14th November 2013

    Time: 4pm -5pm

    How do I apply: To join this free event simply email Mandeep Atwal or Anthony Nneke before the closing date November 8th. Please include details of your school, your role, and pupil age range. We will get back to you with event details.

    What next?

    Join for free the  Partners in Learning Network, the site provides you with the tools to share ideas about how to enhance pupil learning through the use of technology with teachers across the world.

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