Before I start, I wanted to share a quote from an internal Microsoft email that just landed in my inbox from the Microsoft Worldwide PR Team:
Hats off to Ireland for the educator quote of the day, “Participating in the Partners in Learning for Schools Program contributed to our reputation and inspired us as a learning community, as well as enabled us to reach out to other schools with a view to sharing the potential that the Partners in Learning initiative offers to those willing to embrace their own innovative journey,” said Paul Wade, ICT manager at St Mary’s College in Londonderry.”
Well done to Paul and St Mary’s College for making an impact from 4000 miles away!!
After another terrific evening where 90 of us from Western Europe went the the Buddha Bar for dinner (which was fabulous). We woke to another jam packed agenda. We opened with an additional keynote this morning. Senator Mike Bennett spoke to the gathered tracks on his take on the current state of affairs the US School system is in. It was a brutally honest assessment of where the US is and where it needs to be. He talked about how Capital Hill is completely disconnected from the Educator community. It was both refreshing and encouraging to here such a frank appraisal from a member of the US Senate.
We then headed back to the Warner Theatre for the keynote from Dr David Christian, Professor of History, Macquarie University in Sydney Australia. He presented his work on “Big History” which is a way of looking at history in a new way. It is multi-curricular and all encompassing. You can learn more about it in his book “Maps of Time- an introduction to Big History”. From the review site:
An introduction to a new way of looking at history, from a perspective that stretches from the beginning of time to the present day, “Maps of Time” is world history on an unprecedented scale. Beginning with the Big Bang, David Christian views the interaction of the natural world with the more recent arrivals in flora and fauna, including human beings. Cosmology, geology, archaeology, and population and environmental studies – all figure in David Christian’s account, which is an ambitious overview of the emerging field of ‘Big History.’ “Maps of Time” opens with the origins of the universe, the stars and the galaxies, the sun and the solar system, including the earth, and conducts readers through the evolution of the planet before human habitation. It surveys the development of human society from the Palaeolithic era through the transition to agriculture, the emergence of cities and states, and the birth of the modern, industrial period right up-to intimations of possible futures. Sweeping in scope, finely focused in its minute detail, this riveting account of the known world, from the inception of space-time to the prospects of global warming, lays the groundwork for world history – and Big History – true as never before to its name.
The afternoon was spent listening to Teachers presenting their projects and hearing about the impact they have had on their students and popping into the Schools Track where there was a great deal of work being done in groups developing models of collaboration and innovation for the coming year. The Schools track seems to be a really intense one but universally the Teachers are loving it.
Tonight there will be an “Experience Pavilion” where Microsoft Partners will be show casing their Educational products and solutions. After that it is a free night for everyone to have some time to themselves and see different parts of the city.
Tomorrow morning the Irish contingent will have the opportunity to do the White House tour followed up with more workshops and 1 last showcase of the Teacher exhibits. Then the gala dinner takes place tomorrow evening in the National Portrait Gallery and the 18 winning Teacher projects will be announced.
Fingers crossed that Ireland can continue the success we’ve experienced for the past 3 years. I will be tweeting from the event to keep you updated. If we win it may take me a bit of time to write it up (due to anticipated celebrations )