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    One of the challenges facing educators – and students – is the way that each individual will have their own style of learning that works be for them. We say it's a challenge, but looked at with optimism rather than pessimism, and it's clear that this presents and opportunity for everyone in the classroom to get creative in what they do, whether it is teaching or learning. This week’s Teaching with Technology mini-tutorials focus on this theme, looking at some of the free tools available online that can be used in a number of different ways to personalise and enhance first time learning and revision.


    Just in time learning with Microsoft Tag

    Accessing and managing digital information are key skills in school, university and today’s knowledge- based economy. More and more students have access to their own mobile device like tablets or smartphones. These tools can be of great value both as receptive or productive devices. They can be used to connect students with rich learning content.

    Using QR (Quick Response) codes can help learners access embedded content like webpages, text, video and audio supporting personalized learning opportunities. With Microsoft Tag teachers can produce QR codes that are editable and manageable.

    In this tutorial you will:

    1. Learn about the advantages of using QR codes and Microsoft Tag to support learning.
    2. Learn how to create, edit and distribute Microsoft Tag.
    3. Learn how to scan and read created QR codes.


    Using free tools for different learning styles

    Learning can occur in many different ways. Students have different learning styles and it is up to teachers to prepare learning activities that cater for different preferences. But often educators teach in the same way they learn missing the opportunity to maximize the learning experience for their students.

    This tutorial is designed for educators who want to use technology in their teaching to address learners with different learning styles.

    In this tutorial you will:

    1. Use StickySorter for brainstorming and organizing ideas to promote critical thinking and collaborative skills.
    2. Compose a song with Songsmith and use it to teach abstract concepts.
    3. Create a collage with AutoCollage to explain difficult concepts in a visual way.


    If you’ve missed any of our previous Teaching with Technology blogs, you can find them here:

    Teaching with Technology Tutorials – Flipping the classroom with Office 365
    Teaching with Technology Tutorials - Supporting absent students and those with physical impairments
    Teaching with Technology Tutorials – Using Bing Maps and Translator for global collaboration within Office 365
    Teaching with Technology Tutorials – Researching with OneNote & Word; Creating digital stories
    Teaching with Technology Tutorials - Office 365 for cloud based learning; Remove classroom walls with Skype
    Teaching with Technology Tutorials - Preparing for students for employment; Learning Suite for project based learning
    Teaching with Technology Tutorials – Managing assessment data, creating e-Portfolios

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    One of last month’s MIEE TV blogs looked at the Global Enterprise Challenge in the context of Project Based Learning, exploring how original idea for the competition arose from last year’s Global Forum in Barcelona, when Jonathan Bishop, head teacher at Broadclyst Community Primary School, pitched the idea to bring students together from around the world to collaborate and create, all while learning the ins and outs of running a business.

    Anthony Lees - Daily Ed

    Another key member of the team at Broadclyst who has been championing the efforts to drive the Global Enterprise Challenge is MIEE Anthony Lees, who also featured in last month’s blog. Anthony was part of the UK delegation who travelled to Redmond for the recent E2 Global Educator Exchange, and while there he had a chance to meet with Anthony Salcito – Microsoft’s Worldwide VP of Education.

    As well as appearing in the video below, Anthony (Lees) was last week the subject of a post on Anthony Salcito’s Daily Edventures blog which takes another look at the impact of the Global Enterprise Challenge:

    Daily Edventures: Global Enterprise Challenge Takes Off- Anthony Lees, UK

    When the Global Enterprise Challenge was pitched at the Microsoft in Education Global Forum last year, we knew we could expect big things. The challenge, which brings students together from around the world to learn how to run a business, originated at the Broadclyst Community Primary School. And at the recent E2 Conference, we were lucky enough to talk to Broadclyst teacher, Anthony Lees, who’s seen the project’s global impact first-hand…[Read more at Daily Edventures]

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    The latest edition of the MIEE Minute Newsletter has gone out to our Expert Educators all over the world, and we are once again very pleased to be able to share this some of this content with out wider education audience.

    Those of you who read this blog regularly may well be familiar with the MIE Minute and will have read excerpts from this bi-weekly newsletter before. You might also be aware that occasionally on this blog we share the 'Question of the Week'. In some instances question relates to specific activities that the MIEEs have undertaken as part of their membership of the Expert Educator programme, and in other weeks it is a more open question about their experiences within education or using technology.

    Today we're able to pose the question to the wider teacher community, and we'd love to hear your thoughts. It's all about OneNote, and we're asking teachers all over the world to complete the following sentence:

    "I <3 #OneNote because ______."

    Tweet out your reasons for loving OneNote, and if you have space in your tweet you can mention @microsofteduk to make sure that we see your messages!


    Here are the three main items we'd like to share from the latest edition of the MIE Minute:

    Reserve your free upgrade to Windows 10 today!

    Windows 10 is familiar and easy to use. It includes an improved Start menu and is designed to startup and resume fast. Plus, it’s packed with new innovations including Microsoft Edge—an all-new browser. Your personal files and even pinned apps will be there for you. We’ve designed the upgrade to be easy and compatible with the hardware and software you already use with your docs and files preserved.

    Reserve your upgrade today.

    We've recently published a few posts on this blog around this topic, so for a teacher’s view of the latest generation of Windows we’d recommend reading Kevin Sait's thoughts on Windows 10 in education.

    KS W10-1


    OneNote to Wordpress Blog in seconds!

    WordPress is the world’s largest blogging and publishing platform. How great would it be if you could connect OneNote to WordPress to transform ideas and information into meaningful blog posts? Thanks to a new OneNote plug-in for WordPress, you can!

    Once you’re up and running, simply author your posts in OneNote, then in WordPress, click the OneNote button and your content is added.

    OneNote Wordpress


    Potential is endless for students in Manteca, California

    This summer, students in Manteca are graduating from high school, tossing their graduation caps in the air and wondering where their futures will take them. This year wasn't like other school years in Manteca. Manteca USD is one of the first districts in the state of California to provide all students with digital technology access in their classrooms.

    Watch the video to learn about the inspiring transformation technology has enabled in this one district led by Superintendent Jason Messer, MIE Expert:

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    For this week’s MIEE TV blog we’re going to take a look at what some of our Expert Educators have been up to in the last couple of weeks through the stories that they have sharing with each other over Yammer. We’ll also be getting to know one of our Expert Educators a little better as we continue to work our way through the interviews found on the MIEE TV YouTube channel.

    So what have our MIEEs being doing to keep things fresh for their students lately? Marie Renton, Deputy Head Teacher at Lochhead Primary has been getting to grips with using Skype in the classroom to give students exposure to many subjects at once:

    “Took part in my 1st ever Mystery Skype today. This is a fantastic way to teach ICT, Modern Languages and Geography in a real context and in a highly engaging and motivating way. Thoroughly recommend it if you haven't tried it yet. We connected with a French class from Montpellier, via a connection I made at E2 Microsoft Global conference in Seattle. It's the start of a great partnership between our 2 schools.”

    MIEE blog 1


    James Protheroe, ICT leader at Darran Park Primary School in Wales has been capitalising on his students’ love of Minecraft. Children from schools in the Ferndale and Cymer clusters discovered posters had been mysteriously put up all around their schools. Each poster featured Steve, the main character from Minecraft, in a different setting. Each poster contained a question, such as: “Where is Steve?” The children investigated, looking for clues in order to locate him. The pupils from the Tonypandy cluster received the posters of Steve through mysterious emails.

    Learn more on James’ blog

    MIEE blog 2

    Over in Northampton, Simon de Senlis School teacher Charlotte Coade has been making use of portability of the Surface on a Y2 trip to the Leicester New Walk Museum. See what the children learned about the dinosaurs that used to roam the earth…

    Out and about with the Surface tablets – Year 2 trip to the museum

    MIEE blog 3


    Our MIEEs are great at staying in touch and sharing ideas with each other over Yammer, and they also meet up in person via Teachmeets, which are open to all teachers local to the area where they are held. MIEE Fellow Ian Stuart recently hosted a Teachmeet in Glasgow, which is summarised nicely in this Sway created by Marie Renton, one of the teachers who presented on the evening:


    With our MIEE TV blogs we like to help you get to know our Expert Educators a little better by including a short video interview with one of those featured in the post. This week Charlotte Coade from Simon de Senlis explains how she became involved with the Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator programme:

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    The following is a guest post written by PGCE Computer Science Teacher Josh Dadak, all about his experiences with TouchDevelop.



    The curriculum in the UK is changing; with a push to include Computer Science in compulsory education and get the UK back on top with technology. With this push comes a whole range of new resources and technologies. Its no surprise Microsoft has developed some fantastic technologies that are currently available for use.

    As a trainee teacher, I’m at the forefront of this push. A lot of pressure is currently on trainee computer science teachers to deliver this new curriculum content, as the current ICT teachers simply aren’t trained in this field; they aren’t programmers or computer scientists, they’re experts in IT.

    TouchDevelop is one if the technologies I have been using with my students this year. Microsoft has designed this in such a way that it is accessible to those even with little to no coding experience.

    In its younger form, I had concerns with TouchDevelop. I found that my students were mindlessly clicking where the platform told them to click and not actually understanding or remembering any of this information. However, recently I have returned to TouchDevelop and found that it has made significant improvements.

    The tasks are now broken down with a step-by-step instruction phase followed by steps to be completed without the platform telling you what to click. This is key in the classroom to gauging if the students are actually learning. Breaking up tasks with mini-assessments like this is a must in your lessons; it’s an outstanding feature in an OFSTED observation. This is a huge benefit to all teachers, not just those in training!

    A lot of the demonstrations are themed with current popular icons. The Flappy Bird game craze is a prominent feature in my lessons to date. The kids can’t get enough of Flappy Bird. We had a look at creating the Flappy Bird game using Scratch, allowing the students to work out some of the basic logic dragging and dropping code blocks to achieve the desired effect. To view this from another perspective now we are going to look at coding the flappy bird game using TouchDevelop. This can directly link to the curriculum; a visual language with Scratch and then TouchDevelop comes with a textual language. In addition to this it also can cover the segments in the curriculum on app development. Lots of schools are opting to use AppInventor, which is another great platform. However, TouchDevelop doesn’t require any software installed on the local network, which I know a lot of schools are having issues with.

    As a developer myself, I also have started using TouchDevelop in order to quickly prototype new ideas for apps and game mechanics. The ability to have a functional app working, in just a few minutes, simply by tapping buttons on the screen (if I’m on my tablet) or clicking the buttons on my PC, is exponentially useful. In the past I have wasted hours coding up a prototype of an idea I had only to realize that it wasn’t actually that great an idea. Now using TouchDevelop, sure I might come to same conclusion that my idea wasn’t great, but its not nearly as disappointing if so much time hasn’t already been spent developing it.

    At the minute, I’m working on a ‘Heads up’ style game that’s targeted at my examination year classes in order to help them revise. Coding this in visual studio can be fiddly to get the accelerometer working - in TouchDevelop it’s done in a few button presses. An early prototype for this app can be found here. See how easy it is to code an app like this?

    There are resources available - which include an entire scheme of work mapped to the new curriculum, demos, tutorials and classroom wall displays at the following site:

    These should kick-start your TouchDevelop experience and adoption in the classroom, even if it’s just a one off Hour of Code.

    All in all if you haven’t yet checked out TouchDevelop I recommend you do so. If you already have a Microsoft Live account you’ll be coding within seconds. There is a huge range of tutorials available and the possibilities of what you can create are endless!

    - Josh Dadak

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    I am pleased to announce this years finalists for the Kodu Kup 2015. These 10 schools will do battle for the coveted Kodu Kup UK trophy at Microsoft Headquarters on July 13th.

    Thank you to all the other schools that entered, the competition and standard was very high. Thank you for taking the time and effort to enter this great competition.

    This, I am afraid will be last Kodu Kup competition in it’s current format (unless there is a massive public outcry !). Please keep using Kodu in your lessons. It’s the perfect way to teach computing. There will be more competitions next year, there will be more Kodu events, you can be sure of that.



    Kodu Kup Finalists

    Barry Island Primary School – Barry

    Dunoon PS Primary– Argyll & Bute

    Exmoor Coast Federation – Somerset

    Bishop Luffa High School – Chichester

    Highgate School – London

    Lympne Primary School – Kent

    Barlows Primary School–  Liverpool

    Afon Taf  School– Merthyr Tydfil

    Valley Gardens Middle School - Tyne and Wear

    Highgate  Wood School – London


    Highly commended

    St Patricks Catholic Primary School - Corby

    Jenner Park Primary – Vale of Glamorgan

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    For this week’s MIEE TV blog post we’ve got a special topic, involving national recognition for one of our Expert Educators and the work they do using technology to engage their students.

    Microsoft Expert Educator

    The Minecraft enthusiasts among you are likely to already of Ray Chambers, and anyone who visited the Microsoft stand at BETT 2015 will have had the opportunity to listen to him talk about and demonstrate in our Theatre how he has been using Minecraft to great effect at Uppingham Community College, where he is Head of IT and Computing. We’re delighted to share the news that his innovation and progress in this area of teaching has been acknowledged at the 2015 Pearson Teaching Awards.

    Of the thousands of educators nominated this year, Ray is one of just 60 who were recognised by Pearson for their work, with the MIEE being given the Silver Teaching Award in the category for Outstanding use of Technology in Education. All of us here in the Microsoft UK Education team are thrilled for Ray, and we’re sure the rest of the #MIEExpert15 community will join us in congratulating him on his recent accolade.

    For more details about Ray’s recent achievement, we recommend you read the following article from the Northamptonshire Telegraph:

    Corby teacher wins national award

    Ray Chambers


    Regular readers of our MIEE TV blogs will have noticed that we try to include a video interview in each post, featuring the during which we get to know our MIEEs a little better. On this occasion we’re instead going to look back at a Sway made by Ray Chambers all about Minecraft in Education, and how he uses it to teach certain concepts:

    Ray has created many more Minecraft in Education resources including helpful video guides and lesson plans allowing other educators from all over the world to get started with Minecraft and replicate the positive learning outcomes that are evident in the classrooms at Uppingham Community College.

    Once again we’d like to congratulate Ray on his recent success at the Pearson Teaching Awards, and also thank him for all of this work as a Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator since joining the community.

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    For this week’s MIEE TV blog post we’re going to take a look at some of content from the latest edition of the MIE Minute newsletter, sent out to members of the Microsoft Innovative Educator community earlier this week. As well as the three shareable items from the newsletter that we normally feature in these posts, we are also able to include details of a Tweetmeet hosted by one of the Microsoft team members behind two of our most popular applications within education.

    Microsoft in Education is excited to announce the next #MSFTEdu Tweetmeet with Chris Pratley!

    This is an opportunity for educators and school leaders to interact with the creator of both OneNote and Sway. Wonderfully innovative, ineffably approachable, and incredibly passionate about education, Chris has been with Microsoft for 20 years and is responsible for some of the most innovative tools used in schools today. The Tweetmeet will be taking place on Tuesday 7th July at 5pm GMT (9am PST), and using the hashtag #MSFTEdu, you'll have an opportunity to ask him questions (Tweet to @ChrisPr), get insights on his journey in tech and education.

    MIE Minute - Chris Pratley


    Here are the three other feature items from the latest edition of the MIE Minute:

    6 Ways Microsoft technology helps foster creativity and critical thinking skills

    More and more classrooms are doing away with traditional teaching strategies and are emphasizing nurturing students' self-expression and creativity. Here are six ways technology can be used in the classroom to foster creativity and critical thinking skills.

    MIE Minute - June 1 


    BYOD with OneNote Class Notebooks- classroom learning with any device on any platform

    James Gill, 6/7 Grade Teacher from Canada, shares how OneNote Class Notebooks allows him to teach in new ways, regardless of device/platform.

    MIE Minute - June 2


    Office Mix delivers LTI support and integration with major LMS providers

    We’re pleased to announce the availability of Learning Tool Interoperability (LTI) support for Office Mix and the addition of Microsoft to the IMS Global Learning Consortium as a Contributing Member. Read on for more information.

    MIE Minute - June 3

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    Steve Hodges, principal researcher at Microsoft Cambridge, fell in love with computing when he was first exposed to the BBC Micro at school in the 1980s. The computer was part of the BBC Computer Literacy Programme and was designed to encourage students to explore the potential of computer programming.


    After using the BBC Micro at school, he begged his parents for a home computer, promising – as kids so often do – that he’d never ask them for anything again if they’d only buy him this one thing.

    They eventually acquiesced, and Hodges was hooked. He went on to build a very successful career, and he’s now a principal researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge, where he leads the organisation’s sensors and devices group.

    But he still has that old BBC Micro.


    “I couldn’t let it go because it changed my life,” he said.


    Now, Hodges and other Microsoft researchers are hoping that a similar BBC project, the BBC micro:bit – part of their Make It Digital programme – will have the same effect on the next generation of young people across the UK.




    From Micro to BBC micro:bit

    Later this year, the BBC together with Microsoft and a range of other partners will provide every Year 7 student (age 11-12) in the United Kingdom with their very own BBC micro:bit, a personal computing device that they can use to explore the possibilities of computer science, both in and out of the classroom.

    The device has been specifically designed for students starting with little or no computing experience, to show them that they can progress and ultimately create the type of computer games and other programmes and apps that they use every day.

    Microsoft has been working closely with a range of companies, including ARM, Farnell and Samsung, to create the BBC micro:bit. The device itself is less than half the size of a credit card, with a distinctive appearance designed to show off its circuitry and hardware.  Microsoft is providing the web-based programming tools, the Microsoft Azure-based hosting service and teacher training materials.

    Thomas Ball, a research manager and principal researcher in the software engineering group at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Wash., said the researchers hope to change the way that teachers as well as students see the role of computing in the classroom. They also want to make sure that kids are learning about computing and the principles of computer science at a young age.

    “We think kids should be introduced to coding earlier,” Ball said.

    Tom Ball micro bit low-res

    The BBC micro:bit device can be plugged into a computing device using a USB cable and programmed using a browser-based coding and content platform called Microsoft TouchDevelop, which the researchers created to help children build computer programmes with touch screen devices. It now works with all the major smart phones, tablets, desktop operating systems and browsers.

    “So many kids stare at the screen, and they don’t go further than tapping along a few well-planned paths,” said Judith Bishop, director of computer science for Microsoft Research Connections.

    With Microsoft TouchDevelop, even a child who has no experience in coding whatsoever can quickly start creating simple programmes for their BBC micro:bit, such as a set of commands that makes the gadget’s lights blink.

    The fact that they can use Microsoft TouchDevelop on any device also means that this isn’t just confined to the classroom – they can take the BBC micro:bit home and carry on exploring outside of school.

    The Microsoft TouchDevelop platform has been designed so that as students get more advanced, they can create even more sophisticated programmes and build libraries of code that they can re-use and share with other users. Eventually, they can progress to use the computer language C++, which professional computer scientists use.


    This ability to transition to a more sophisticated programming language is a key differentiator for Microsoft TouchDevelop. And it’s also a crucial element for helping not just create computer enthusiasts, but future computer scientists.

    “We’ve all become very good consumers of technology,” Hodges said. “It’s not sustainable. We need to have producers of technology.”

    The UK has a rapidly growing number of vacancies within the technology sector, and desperately needs to create a generation of computer-literate individuals to plug the skills gap and maintain its competitive edge on a global scale. The BBC micro:bit will bring the focus back to practical learning, opening young people’s eyes to the endless possibilities of pursuing a career in computer science.

    Researchers say there are other benefits to the programme as well, even for children who use the BBC micro:bit but end up going into other fields. In recent years, computational thinking, in which computer science methods are used as a way of tackling problems, has become a core skill in a range of fields, from biology to journalism. Jeannette Wing, a corporate vice president overseeing Microsoft’s core research labs, said that with the micro:bit, “Students can experience a tangible way of working with computational thinking.”

    She noted that with the BBC micro:bit, students will both learn about and experience a more engaging and scientific way of attacking problems. These skills are said to help students to learn better across the curriculum and are vital for to helping them solve problems in any subject.

    For more information, please visit

    Read more about Microsoft’s TouchDevelop program for the BBC micro:bit.

    Read more about Jeannette Wing’s thoughts on computational thinking

    You can find BBC resources here and here.

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    Microsoft Expert Educator

    Another two weeks have passed, and it is once again time to take a look into the world of our Microsoft Expert Educators through the latest edition of the MIE Minute.

    Anyone familiar with the MIE Minute will know that each edition is packed full of great content created for - and often by - our Microsoft Innovative Educators. As with all of our blogs about the MIE Minute, we include the three stories or items of content that our Expert Educators are asked to share with the wider education community.

    So without any further ado, here are the latest edition's items!

    OneNote + Mystery Skype = Dream Team

    ISTE2015 will be remembered for great educator connections, a ton of inspiration and the unveiling of a OneNote Notebook designed to make Mystery Skype your new favourite teaching tool. Created by Skype Master Teachers (with a ton of virtual miles under their belt), this free downloadable notebook gives you everything you need to help students master the game that brings collaborative learning to life. Get your copy of the Mystery Skype OneNote Notebook today!



    Office 2016 Preview- Update 2

    I hope you've been as excited as we are about the beautiful new Office 2016 Preview and actively trying out the new features! This blog post gives updates on some just-added features like new charts in Excel, real-time typing in Word, and a "Convert Hand Written Equations to Text" feature that teachers will love.

    For the full post about these new features, please visit the Office Blog.



    Learning from Educators to Help Create Dynamic Classroom Experiences

    A recap from Anthony Salcito, covering all of the awesome announcements from Microsoft in Education in these two weeks, including the new Minecraft destination for Educators, partnership with Edmodo, and more!

    To read Anthony’s full write up, please visit the Microsoft in Education blog.

    Minecraft Education


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    Last week we were proud to share the announcement launching the BBC micro:bit, which forms an integral part of the broadcaster's #MakeItDigital campaign. The response from teachers, students, and tech enthusiasts has been overwhelmingly positive, and we can't wait for the micro:bit itself to start appearing in schools all over the UK.


    Much of the chatter we saw on social media in the wake of the announcement last week was from teachers asking how they can obtain micro:bits for use in their classes. The pocket sized device will be gifted free to all Year 7 and equivalent students across the UK during the latter part of October, but teachers will be sent their own device in September, enabling them to get to grips with the micro:bit and plan their lessons ahead of the widespread student distribution.

    Teachers are asked to complete a short form on the School Registration site for the BBC micro:bit, with the information submitted being used to ensure that your school receives its share of micro:bits when they become available. There is also the option to choose to receive further information about the micro:bit from the BBC over the summer and autumn term. The information provided will only be used to contact you with updates about the BBC micro:bit project.

    We are also pleased to be able to share with you a preview of the BBC micro:bit Quick Start Guide for Teachers, compiled by Hodder Education. Including tips and advice for getting to grips with the BBC micro:bit, step-by-step coding challenges with clear solutions, and guidance on creating and sharing your own programs and tutorials, the BBC micro:bit Quick Start Guide for Teachers also features a foreword written by Jeannette M. Wing, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Research.

    The guide is now available for viewing and downloading from the Microsoft Education UK SlideShare channel, or from Hodder Education.

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    I am pleased to announce this year’s Winners for the Kodu Kup 2015.  Ten schools did battle for the coveted Kodu Kup UK trophy at Microsoft Headquarters this week.

    After a hectic and energetic elevator pitch session , the judges made their choice of the four award winning teams from whom the champions were selected.

    Kodu Kup Award Winners

    Primary School Winners - Dunoon PS Primary– Argyll & Bute

    Judges Choice - Exmoor Coast Federation – Somerset

    Secondary School Winners - Bishop Luffa High School – Chichester

    Girls into Coding Winners - Highgate School – London

    Embedded image permalink 

    The judges awarded the Kodu Kup to Scotland and Dunoon Primary,for their game Rural Racers. The game  used an original concept to great effect, as well as a clever, yet simple business plan with Scottish themed merchandise.

    Well done Dunoon Primary, Kodu Kup Champions 2015.








    Our guest Youtuber, Solly the Kid recorded the day’s activities in this great video.

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    Last week Microsoft's UK HQ in Reading was host to the national finals of Kodu Kup, inviting teams from 10 schools to compete for the prizes. More than just an exercise in programming, the Kodu Kup challenges students to put their minds to a number of creative and business-themed disciplines, as part of a wider project based learning experience.

    The 10 schools selected for the finals were:

    • Barry Island Primary School – Barry
    • Dunoon PS Primary – Argyll & Bute
    • Exmoor Coast Federation – Somerset
    • Bishop Luffa High School – Chichester
    • Highgate School – London
    • Lympne Primary School – Kent
    • Barlows Primary School –  Liverpool
    • Afon Taf  School – Merthyr Tydfil
    • Valley Gardens Middle School - Tyne and Wear
    • Highgate Wood School – London

    Kodu KupGiving children context to their learning is key and the Kodu Kup does just that, by not only asking them to create a game using their programming skills, but to engage their minds to think about how they would go about promoting and marketing their games, and in doing so develop a number of highly valuable 21st century skills. The variety and standard of the games and ideas we saw last Monday was a testament to what can be achieved when children's imaginations are unleashed in a fertile creative environment, by teachers who can nurture and facilitate the initial sparks into tangible products.

    Integral to any successful entry was a balance among the students that make up a team, and an ability to work together and embrace the different strengths of each member - a skill that is hugely useful in any area of employment. Some children will have a natural affinity for certain skills and disciplines, while others will excel in other areas. A combination of creative ideas and coding ability, blended with someone who can present these ideas and talk to potential investors or customers will stand any budding apps team in good stead, and these attributes were present in abundance last week.

    -- Kodu Kup 2015 UK Winners --

    All finalists had a stall from which to demo their games and any other supporting marketing materials they had produced, with plenty of time for to judges to be wowed and impressed by each of the teams. After two ‘pitching sessions’ and a break for lunch, it was time for the announcement of the winners, with the following awards being presented:

    Primary School Winners: Dunoon Primary School - 'Rural Racers' 

    Secondary School Winners: Bishop Luffa High School - 'Maze Runner' 
    WP_20150713_14_47_03_Rich (2)


    Girls into Coding: Highgate School - 'Kodu Kop' 
    KK - Kodu Kop


    Kodu Kup 2015 Champions: Dunoon Primary School 
    KK - Rural Racers

    After the winners were announced, news spread very quickly, with Chris Forrest - Managing Director of Microsoft Scotland - showing his delight at the success the students from Dunoon Primary:

    “Huge congratulations to the KoduKup 2015 UK Champions, Dunoon Primary’s ‘Pro Gamers’ - it’s truly wonderful to see these young people be inspired by technology. It’s all the more impressive when you know that the children and their families have put off their summer holidays to compete! I’d also like to recognise the talent and commitment of all the entrants who have worked so hard, as well as the schools and teachers who have backed them.”

    We were also paid a visit by a young man with a passion for Minecraft who goes by the name 'Solly The Kid' on YouTube. As well as giving a Minecraft demonstration to the finalists on the big screen, he also made his own video of the day, which is absolutely fantastic!

    To see the impact of the Kodu Kup in other areas of the curriculum, we need look no further than the students themselves. Speaking to one of the team from Highgate Woods School who created 'Star Strike', she explained how developing worlds in Kodu has helped her to improve the work she does in Geography lessons, through gaining a better understanding on terrains, and the different materials and features that make up landscapes. 'Game Hopper', the product of the imaginations of three pupils at Barry Island Primary School, is a story led game, which its creators say helped them hugely with their creative writing in English classes.

    The girls at Highgate School behind the anti-bullying game 'Kodu Kop' drew upon their musical abilities to write and record the soundtrack from their game, which they also performed on the day - a very talented bunch indeed!

    -- Beyond Coding --

    The enthusiasm of the children was plainly evident from talking to them on the day, but when speaking to the teachers, they were all effusive in their praise of the attitudes of their students in the way they went about the challenge. Many were taken aback by the way that their students had willingly got on with the work not only in the classroom, but in their own time as well.

    A significant part of the challenge within education is getting young children to engage and identify with the subject matter and principles, especially if they can't see any real life context to what might otherwise appear to be arbitrary exercises, or if they don't naturally prosper in a given subject. By bringing together a wide range of skills and disciplines under the overarching theme of a singular project, students who might struggle in one particular area are able to excel in others, and through working as a team are more easily able to enjoy the project as a whole, and associate a feeling of success and achievement with areas of study they might have otherwise drawn a negative experience from. This also benefits the peer environment, as the students learn to embrace the collective skills of the group and recognise that their fellow students are of value to them, even if they have different interests and abilities.

    One conversation with the Barry Island Primary students was particularly heartening and that was when one of them, without prompting, explained that even if they didn’t win awards that day, they were still very pleased with what they had achieved so far, and would be continuing to work on their game and further coding endeavours. This mindset of recognising achievements and accomplishments is so crucial for building confidence in abilities in young people. Whether not an app is 1st or 21st in a chart or store is not the be all and end all of success, and if we are to continue to produce creative, critical, and prosperous children to become the leaders of tomorrow, we need to ensure that they do not see coming second as a reason to stop trying.

    -- What’s Next? --

    This is the last time the Kodu Kup will be run in its current format, but rest assured we will be offering some form of project based learning competition next year with the aim of getting children into coding at its heart. Once again, congratulations to all of our winners, and thank you to all entrants - it was a hugely enjoyable day for all of us here at Microsoft, and fantastic to see the talents of the next generation!

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    Microsoft Expert Educator

    We are recruiting! Regular readers of this blog should be familiar what teacher and school leaders that we refer to as Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts - MIEEs - and you may have seen content tagged with #MIEExpert15.

    It's now your opportunity to apply to be part of this programme, and we're pleased to be able to share details of how you can get involved.

    To refresh your memory, or if you've not heard of it before, the MIE Expert program is designed for educators who are thought leaders in innovative learning with technology and want to amplify their reach and voice to all educators. The program is a 3-year engagement for educators.

    Why apply to become a MIEE?

    As an MIE Expert, you'll work closely with Microsoft to lead innovation in education. As we as advocating and sharing your thoughts on the effective use of technology in education with peers and policy makers, you'll help to provide insight to us on how our new products and tools for education can be optimised for learning. Our MIEEs from all over the world form a vibrant and proactive community, exchanging best practices as they work together to promote innovation in teaching and learning.

    When educators become MIE Experts, there are so many opportunities that open up to them, including:

    • Receive publicity and promotion via social media and other Microsoft channels
    • Professional and career development opportunities and certifications
    • Present in Microsoft’s global EduCast Webinar series
    • Participate in focus groups giving feedback to a development teams on Microsoft products
    • Join invitation-only special events from Microsoft
    • Test out new products while in beta form
    • Build educator capacity in your community (school, district or at training events) by training and coaching colleagues and inviting them to join the online Microsoft Educator Community
    • Collaborate with innovative educators across the globe using Skype in the Classroom
    • Host regional events showcasing uses of Microsoft technology in the classroom
    • Achieve eligibility to attend the Microsoft Global Educator Exchange Event (E2), Spring 2016

    There's all this, and so much more to enjoy as a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert. For more information about what the programme entails, please refer to the Microsoft Educator Network.

    Application Process

    If you'd like to apply to join our MIE Expert programme, you can fill out the self-nomination form, and to really show your innovative side and grasp of technology, we are also giving you the option to respond by making a Sway, Mix, Video, Word doc, or some other creative method, and include this a part of your application.

    All of us here in the Microsoft UK Education team have had such a great time working with our current cohort of MIEEs, and we’re really looking forward to having more join the programme to help us push education forwards. If you have any questions about the application process please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.

    Good luck!!


    To give you a flavour of what we got up to with our MIEEs at this year's BETT show, here's some footage of the Theatre Sessions on Microsoft stand, where many of our MIEEs (wearing the yellow shirts) talked about teaching in their own classrooms:

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    I have just had a big birthday and I was treated to a telescope, it reminded me of the the great access to resources that Windows devices have to learn about Space and Astronomy.

    Remember Windows devices will run non app based software. This is great , because the best piece of software that you could install is the brilliant Worldwide Telescope.

    What this free application cannot do in relation to astronomy is not worth mentioning . It is truly awesome and with a Windows device it means you can run this along side all your apps. This video shows the beauty and marvel of our universe. WWT is  going open source, expect loads of new features soon. For those who have less powerful devices or are using something non-windows, then you can still access the imagery and some functionality through the WorldWide Telescope Web client.

    So what about some apps. These used with WWT would give you a full astronomy lab in the classroom.

    What bothered me about teaching Space in school was that we could never see the planets, moon and stars as it was daytime. You needed to organise some evening event or set it as homework. It was inevitably cloudy whenever this was done.

    So these Apps will provide children with experiences that can enhance their awe and wonder of the universe.

    image Sky Map SkyMap Free is an amazing planetarium for your device. It enables you to point your device at the sky and see what stars, constellations, planets or deep space objects are out there in real time. I use it on my Phone as well.
    image ISS Tracker It is surprising the number of times the International Space Station passes overhead. Use the app to find out when it is visible. Check out for live streaming from the cameras on board the ISS. Combine these two for a great experience. On a Windows device they can be run and viewed side by side
    image Moon The Moon is still one of the most fascinating things we can see easily in the Night Sky. See what the moon looks like and where it is at any time and place. View Moon Phase and Moon Rise, Transit and Set times anywhere and for any date. View the times for all upcoming major phases (First Quarter, Full, Last Quarter, New).
    image NASA – Be a Martian Drawing on observations from NASA’s Mars missions, the "Be a Martian" application enables the public to participate as citizen scientists to assist Mars science teams studying data about the Red Planet, as well as learn about the planet in general. Features include Mars videos, images, interactive maps,
    image Mars Rover : Curiosity NASA's Mars Rover Curiosity, landed on Mars August 6th, 2012. Explore this amazing SUV-sized rover, and learn about the tools that it will use to explore the Martian landscape. Also use World Wide Telescope to explore Mars in even more detail. Use Kodu to build your own games with the Mars Rover.
    image Space Invaders Classic Because we can Smile

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    Microsoft Expert EducatorLast week another edition of the MIE Minute Newsletter went out to our Expert Educators, containing within it a wealth of content from our global network of teachers. As ever, there are some sharable items that will be of interest to the broader education community, and questions that we're opening up for anyone to answer.


    To celebrate the launch of Windows 10, we are challenging everyone to #UpgradeYourWorld, and in the case of teachers, we'd like to know how you will make a difference… On your block, in your community, in your world?

    Complete the sentence "I will #UpgradeMyWorld by..." and tweet us (@microsofteduk) with your answers!

    Sharable content

    1. 6 Reasons OneNote is a Student's Best Friend

    OneNote, available to download free, is a slick, powerful, and remarkably effective tool that helps students organize their notes, projects, and everything in between. Here are some tips to help students make the most of OneNote.

    6 reasons 1

    2. Top 10 back to school features in the new Office for Mac

    Just in time for teachers, students and families preparing to head back to school—the all new Office for Mac is here. Packed with a whole new set of features, Office 2016 for Mac is sure to help scholars of all ages do their best work. To help you get most out of the new Office for Mac, we’ve narrowed it down to our top 10.

    Office for Mac - 10 reasons

    3. WYSIWYG editing in Office Mix quizzes and polls

    Office Mix just got better, especially for science and math teachers, with the introduction of WYSIWYG editing, making the input of formulas so much easier! But even if you’re not a math or science teacher, you now have a lot more freedom to include images, tables, horizontal rule lines, font formatting, bulleted and numbered lists, and a whole range of special characters in quiz and poll questions in your Office Mix—click to learn more!


    Want to become a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert?

    Yesterday we published another blog sharing details of how you can apply to become a Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator, as well as what becoming part of the programme will involve, but here’s an example of what existing members of our community are saying:

    We're now welcoming applications for our next cohort of Expert Educators, so please put yourselves forward!

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    I get asked this at BETT every year, people are thinking how they can use this consumer technology in the classroom (or how they can persuade their spouse that they need one for work!). It is relative high investment in a device maybe? About the cost of a mid range laptop. But, because as it is a ‘games console’ some might see it as frivolous. BUt , I disagree, here are some thoughts. Gamification is a valuable educational process, Just look at Minecraft . So starting with games, having a dedicated powerful, internet connected device, with large screen or projector, is a great asset and way to introduce a least two great resources for the classroom, Minecraft and Project Spark. Both of which, provide great learning opportunities and not just in the  computing field. Activity games, such as Shape Up and  Dance Central, linked to the Kinect , are a great activity related opportunity. Students can have their own ‘school created’ profiles, with their own designed avatars. that will save their progress. The Family Settings can be used to create an environment where the students can only access what you you want them to access.

    Next I would use it as a Skype Console, use the Skype in the Classroom website to create activities and connect your class to the world. The Kinect acts as the camera for the class to use. Use the BBC iPlayer, YouTube and DVD Players apps to ensure you a have a full range of access to media content that can be used for learning.

    The Xbox One has Windows integration, this is closer with Windows 10 and universal apps. But, already you can access Onedrive Photos and use Internet explorer on Xbox.

    There are some Xbox apps that that allow the Xbox to become a great resource in the classroom for example Game DVR, this allows you to record activity that takes place on the Xbox. Students can make videos of their or even create mini movies using Minecraft and Spark. This feature is also available through the Xbox app on Windows 10 devices.

    Connecting any device to a screen wirelessly is now an essential feature of the 21st century classroom. Miracast isimage a Wireless technology that many windows devices have. The Miracast app on the Xbox allows any device with Miracast to broadcast to it and display on a large screen. This is a wireless connection , so it does not use your valuable network bandwidth. Also once a connection is made another connection cannot be made until that device disconnects, stopping ‘unwanted’ connections.

    A device running Windows 10 is able to connect to an Xbox One and can be used to control and view the activity on the Xbox. This means that if students are using the an activity  on the Xbox. It can be broadcasted to their device using a Micro USB cable, the controller can be plugged into that device and they can carry on. In the meantime the video input source on the projector or screen can be changed use for something else.

    If this is not enough to convince the purse strings holder in your school, remember those days when ‘Today we can watch a DVD’ happen. The Xbox One is a great Bluray and DVD player and with a simple adaptor can receive and record TV.

    So what’s not to love ….. Thoughts?




    So my Xbox One Classroom looks like this :-

    Xbox One with Kinect ( connected to my whiteboard projector)

    Project Spark
    Shape Up
    Dance Central

    BBC iPlayer
    DVD Player

    Internet Explorer
    Game DVR

    Xbox on Windows 10

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    Ross Lowe, a student Developer shares his thoughts on the responses he has experienced with the BBC Micro:Bit

    What do people think?

    I've had the chance to play around with the new BBC Micro:bit (if you haven't seen, it's a small circuit board that will be given to 1million year 7's) for quite a while. However, this weekend was the first opportunity I've had to see the Micro:bit in use by students, parents, and teachers, and the reception has been exceptional.

    The biggest question was: 'Why is it different from a Raspberry Pi?', and the very reasons that separate the Raspberry Pi from the Micro:bit are the reasons that make the Micro:bit such an important piece of kit for students. Over the two days at Make It Digital Cardiff, we quickly set up a couple of small demos for the Micro:bit, which showcase how powerful it is as a tool for students. We used Kodu, and the Micro:bit's accelerometer, to create a game where the Micro:bit, stuck in to a steering wheel cover, acted as the controller – by tilting the Micro:bit in the wheel the character moved, the two buttons acted as forwards and backwards controls, and the LEDs acted as a great speedometer. This example took minutes of programming and haphazard DIY to create, and this is the sort of creation the Micro:bit allows you to instantly and easily make and set up (soon, 1 million schoolkids will have the resources to make their own creations just like this). So the main difference between the Micro:bit and a Raspberry Pi is simple: it's tactile.

    With the 'smartphone generation', concatenating strings and basic databases just aren't engaging enough. Students don't want to learn programming by producing lines of text on a screen – students want to see their code work, they want to feel it, to play with it. The Micro:bit allows exactly this; after minutes of writing code in Microsoft Touch Develop, and a simple drag-and-drop, you can see your 'hello, world!' message flashing brightly on LEDs on a small circuit in your hands instead of grayscale text on a screen. Students were using Kodu, Microsoft Touch Develop, Microsoft Block Editor, making rock-paper-scissors games which use the accelerometer, racing games which use the buttons, Tamagotchi-esque virtual pets, and so much more.

    After the last couple of days of discussing the Micro:bit with the people who it will affect, it has become clear that the device has great potential to get kids really interested in coding. This new, tactile approach engages students with their code, and it's an excellent way for kids to begin to understand the logic of coding before working up to more complex programming languages and methods. The Micro:bit may seem simple, but the children who use it really connect with the way it (and their code) works. Watch this space; once the Micro:bits are in the hands of the students, who knows what wonderful and exciting projects they will begin to create, and just how many students will be inspired to pursue programming to a higher level and even start their careers in code.

    There is a lot more to come from the Micro:Bit as we get closer to launch. We will posting a lot more in the next few weeks. In the meantime if you want to have a look at how to code the Micro:Bit then we can give a you a sneak preview of the Teacher's Guide available here.

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    Being a Dad of two girls, I am always interested in anything that can engage my daughters in in STEM activities. This new series from the BBC takes a really interesting approach and is well worth checking out.

    This is a talent show with a difference - the girls taking part don't think they've got the talent for it!

    Radio 1's Alice Levine takes five girls who can take selfies, to see if they can take on the male-dominated world of digital technology. Half of all gamers are women - but only four percent code them. Only seven of the richest 100 tech billionaires are female.

    (Please visit the site to view this video) 

    East End girl Ellie, art student Daisy, science boffin Neelam, fashion grad Tolani and wannabe millionaire Arooj go on a crash course in the testosterone-fueled worth of tech, to see if they can buck the trend and get a slice of the action.

    The girls are set a simple challenge: to come up with a viable tech business idea in just two weeks. If it's good enough, they'll get to pitch it to the best-of-the-best, and maybe even get a job out of it. It's a rollercoaster journey - they'll crunch code, prototype products, and unleash unique apps. But can they go from digital zeroes to start-up heroes?

    Along the way girls are helped by some of the most successful and inspirational people in the UK tech industry - including millionaire entrepreneur and tech-business founder Alex Depledge, who joins Alice and the girls every step of their way.

    A trip to London College of Fashion shows the girls how technology is having an impact in all walks of their life - from the fashion-show runway to finding new make-up. Then at a computer games company an unscheduled 'comfort break' leads to mobile gaming gold.

    The first big lesson in tech is that making millions isn't really about learning to code: success comes when you follow your passion.

    Part of the BBC's Make it Digital season, which tells the story of how British pioneers have helped shape the digital world. It aims to inspire a new generation to get creative with coding, programming and digital technology

    Girls who can code is broadcast on BBC Three - Tuesday 15 September - 9.00pm-10.00pm


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    written by Allison Linn - senior writer at Microsoft Research. Follow her on Twitter.

    Microsoft has released a new computer science curriculum designed for teens who may not have expressed much interest in computer programming – and teachers who don't necessarily have any background in the field, either.

    The curriculum, called Creative Coding Through Games And Apps, is available for free to any educator who wants to use it.

    The course aims to encourage a wide range of students to explore computer science by teaching them to program and publish real apps and games.

    It teaches kids how to code using Microsoft Touch Develop, a programming language developed by Microsoft Research. Touch Develop is designed so that even students without any computer science background can quickly learn how to write simple programs.

    Touch Develop also works on any device that has a modern Internet browser. That means students can write programs on smart phones, tablets, laptops or desktop computers, regardless of the operating system the device is running.

    It's the same technology that's being used for the BBC's micro:bit program, which is providing every Year 7 student in the UK with a gadget and the tools to program on it.

    Tom Ball, (no relation ) a research manager in the software engineering group at Microsoft Research who has worked extensively on Touch Develop, first got involved with the team behind the Creative Coding curriculum when they collaborated on's Hour of Code project. That's a program that aims to introduce millions of kids to the basics of programming through simple, introductory coding exercises.

    Ball said he hopes this new curriculum will introduce kids to the foundations of computer programming, even if they've never considered programming in the past.

    "It's not so much about learning Touch Develop," Ball said. "Touch Develop is the vehicle to learning about computer science concepts."

    Creative Coding through Games and Apps was designed by computer science teachers, and it comes with prep materials, lesson plans, assignments, homework and other resources. It's recommended for kids ages 13 and up.

    The course's developers say the online and in-class curriculum is intended to work well even for teachers without any computer science background.

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