UK teachers took first first and second places in the Community section of Microsoft's prestigious 5th Annual Worldwide Innovative Education Forum Awards, held this week in Salvador, Brazil (results below).
They are, respectively, Mandeep Atwal (left), of Shireland Collegiate Academy, and Ollie Bray (below, right), of Musselburgh Grammar School, Scotland (currently seconded to Learning and Teaching Scotland as adviser for emerging technologies). Speaking from Brazil, Ollie Bray commented: "I was genuinely overwhelmed to receive second place. My project on using computer games to improve the learning and social interaction of children as they move between primary and secondary school was very well received and many of the people at the forum seem keen to replicate the project in their own countries.
"I think it is an interesting time for education and, globally, teachers need to continue to find more creative ways to engage our children in their learning. As we have demonstrated with the ‘Thinking out of the xBox Project’, commercially available off-the-shelf computer games have a real role to play in a 21st century classroom."
Also speaking from Brazil, a delighted Kristen Weatherby, Microsoft Partners in Learning manager for the UK, commented: "Mandeep's and Ollie's work in using ICT to bring together communities of learners has had a profound impact on their schools and their local authorities, and will now influence teachers and schools all over the world.
"We're proud that Microsoft was able to play a role in bringing Mandeep and Ollie to an international event like the Innovative Education Forum to showcase and celebrate the amazing work they do every day."
Selection for these awards is a major achievement as Mandeep Atwal and Ollie Bray were among more than 250 highly accomplished teachers who had already emerged from regional events worldwide to be picked for the final 12 Worldwide Innovative Awards.
Microsoft 5th Annual Worldwide Innovative Education Forum Awards
Best Practice: Mandeep Atwal (England – "Young Voices")
1st Runner-up: Ollie Bray (Scotland – "Thinking outside the XBOX")
2nd Runner-up: Lucrecio Filho de Oliveira (Brazil – "Projeto Barreiro")
Best Practice: Autumne Streeval and Harriet Armstrong (USA – "US Industrial Revolution Tic Tac Toe");
1st Runner-up: Damien Lebegue (France – "Differentiated/adapted Teaching in PE");
2nd Runner-up: Alex Vieira dos Santos (Brazil – "Fontes De Energia").
Best Practice: Mark Sparvell (Australia – "Connecting Hearts Heads and Hands");
1st Runner-up: Karina Batat (Israel – "The Traveling Mascot");
Tied for 2nd Runner-up: Myreia Gussinye (Mexico - "Tolerant") and Xiaoyong Tang (China – "Exploration of Ant Behavior").
Best Practice: Moliehi Sekese (Lesotho – "Indigenous Plants");
1st Runner-up: Janjira Phongchoo (Thailand – "MS Excel Game Building Techniques")
2nd Runner-up: Isabel Schapdryver (Belgium – "Secondhandshop").
"The teachers participating at the Innovative Education Forum are among the best in their field demonstrating an exemplary use of technology in the classroom," said a Microsoft UK spokesperson. "Great teachers engage every student in their class; providing each one with exactly what they need to achieve. Innovative teachers creatively and effectively use technology in their curriculum to help improve the way that students learn. The Innovative Education Forum gives the teachers attending from around the world an opportunity to collaborate with their peers to understand best practices in 21st Century teaching and learning."
Other schools from the UK had representatives at the event: two from Scotland, Stirling High School and Calderglen High School, which were recently selected as pathfinder schools. Also attending - as a mentor school – was Bowring Community Sports College in Knowsley, Liverpool.
Next generation Partners in Learning to include 2 million educators
The Innovative Education Forum comes under Microsoft's Partners in Learning Network, which the company expects will include 2 million members across around 60 countries by 2010, making it one of the world’s largest networks for educators. At the forum Microsoft announced plans for the next generation of the network.
A press released announced: "Microsoft has selected 30 new 'pathfinder' schools, chosen from among 110 applicants, as well as 12 'mentor' schools. Pathfinder schools are those that have demonstrated strong school leadership with a proven record of innovation and successful change implementation. The mentor schools were honoured at the event because they have already achieved a level of change within their education systems and are viewed as leaders in their countries and regions."
"The Network has evolved to include advances in social networking technology that allow educators to share ideas, find content and collaborate with their peers from all over the world. Imagine a teacher in Senegal sharing best practices or perhaps brilliant lesson plans with a teacher in the UK. The platform helps teachers and school leaders build professional development communities with their peers – the benefit is for the teachers and certainly the students!
"At the Innovative Education Forum Microsoft also honored the newest members of the Partners in Learning Innovative Schools Program, which is designed to help school leaders become change agents within their school communities by providing the tools and resources they need to successfully envision and implement educational transformation."
Microsoft Innovative Teachers
Microsoft UK Schools Blog
An interview with Ollie Bray will be published as part of The Innovators series on this website
The 2012 Innovative Education FOrum will be held in South Africa
Microsoft Partners in Learning press information