Microsoft 2-Day Teacher Trainer Workshop, Day 1

Although I didn’t get to hang out with Stevie, or even Satya, I had a great day chatting with my fellow educators, tinkering around with all of the free tools Microsoft offers, and learning more about OneNote. While the time spent on Window 8 seemed a little bit out of date – I’m on Windows 10 and since it will revert to an old-style start menu by default I didn’t initially see the point in diving into Live Tiles – but the training itself was very well done.

Here are some of the topics we covered:

Window 8 — After reflecting more, I guess this session was useful for people who are currently using Windows 8, haven’t installed a Start Menu replacement, and don’t anticipate upgrading to Windows 10 when it is released next year. I do like the live tiles a lot for younger students. If your IT staff can bake in the proper shortcuts and groups to their image, it can be a way easier method of navigating for younger students than using the mouse as it allows them to utilize the touch screen to its full extent. In the long run I see most users switching to the “Hybrid” view that Windows 10 has. I can’t imagine many people sticking with the tiles, but I could be wrong.

OneNote — It is awesome and probably the best Microsoft product that only a few people use. When I ask students about OneNote they almost always have not heard of it. That is probably because most of their teachers haven’t either. It’s high time that we start spreading the word! I’m going to do a OneNote training for my colleagues when I get back to school after the break šŸ™‚

21st Century Learning Design — This session was interesting and sparked quite a bit of debate. We looked at a lesson that was submitted to the MS Partners in Learning network and assessed it using the rubric for 21st Century Learning Design (21CLD). The biggest discussion point here was regarding the concept of knowledge construction. What does it really mean to “construct knowledge” during a learning activity? The 21CLD documentation states that:

Knowledge construction activities require students to generate ideas and understandingsĀ that are new to them. Students can do this through interpretation, analysis, synthesis, orĀ evaluation. In stronger activities, knowledge construction is the main requirement of theĀ learning activity.(p10)

This definition seemed to be a bit vague to most of us. We felt as though the submission, which had some of the seeds of a great unit, was poorly or incompletely described in the documents we were presented. However, because of this broad definition, we felt that we needed to score this lesson higher on knowledge construction rubric we were using as the framework for evaluating the lesson:

Knowledge Construction Rubirc

This discussion really stuck with me. It made me go back over some of the documents more closely, where I found this gem:

The main requirement is the part of the activity that students spend the most time and effort on and the part that educators focus on when grading. If the learning activity does not specify how much time students should spend on each part, you may have to use your professional judgment to estimate how long students are likely to spend on different tasks.

If I had seen this at the time then I would have certainly scored the lesson lower.Ā The documents we looked at made it impossible to discern how theĀ students would spend their time during these activities. It also wasn’t really clear what skills the educator would focus on when evaluating the final product. While I do think that the students would spend the majority of their time drafting a “business letter” to the IOC (part of the culminating activity), I don’t think that it is clear how much time this would take or even which student in a given group would be using their research to construct knowledge. If this unit wasn’t well-planned it could easily devolve into a situation where one student does all of the work.

Overall it was a great day!Ā I truly appreciate that Microsoft goes out of their way to provide these training opportunities, and that they are encouraging educators to be leaders. I, for one, feel inspired and ready for Day 2. Thank you toĀ Ā and Kim West!

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