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Teachers Praised For Innovative Use of ICT in the Classroom

Press Release – Microsoft Corporation USA

Innovative use of technology in the classroom has led to Julia Breen from Howick College being recognised as one of the most creative teachers in the country, winning the 2011 Microsoft Innovative Educators Award.Teachers Praised For Innovative Use of ICT in Kiwi Classrooms

Innovative use of technology in the classroom has led to Julia Breen from Howick College being recognised as one of the most creative teachers in the country, winning the 2011 Microsoft Innovative Educators Award.

As part of the Microsoft’s global Partners in Learning programme, these Awards identify teachers who are using technology in creative ways, recognising their enthusiasm and commitment with an unsurpassed professional development opportunity.

Julia, a Physical Education (PE) teacher, developed a project using Green Screening, Microsoft’s Movie Maker, One Note and internet-based SkyDrive tools for PE students. The aim is to get students working in a collaborative manner to enhance critical thinking and evaluate performance. Students take ownership and track progress and success by using their own learning journal, allowing them to develop leadership skills and individualise reflection. She says this type of project goes towards changing the perception of Physical Education in the school community.

Julia says being named a Microsoft Innovative Educator is a huge honour.

“It is an amazing feeling to be recognised for something you are passionate about, and I am thrilled to have won. In my experience, the more engaged students are in the learning process, the better the outcomes are for them. Seeing the students get so actively involved is very rewarding – it lets you know you are doing something right.”

Julia credits the project with helping lift student achievement and engagement. For the particular NCEA PE Achievement Standard the green screen was used, 33 per cent of students achieved an excellence, compared to 21 per cent the previous year. Students demonstrated greater engagement in the activity in 2011 with only 2 students “Not Achieving” this is well below the National average.

Julia will receive a professional development package worth more than $5,000, including software, hardware and attendance at the Microsoft Asia Pacific Partners in Learning Forum being held in Auckland in March 2012.

Evan Blackman, Education Manager at Microsoft New Zealand says it is hugely satisfying to see these teachers leading the way and using technology to enhance the learning experience.

“We understand the value that technology can provide to a student’s education and are inspired by the projects these teachers are undertaking. Teachers are the critical ingredient – there can be a wealth of tools out there but if the teachers aren’t using them effectively then students will not achieve to the same extent. Between Ultra-Fast Broadband and regionalised cloud networks, it is a very exciting time for the education sector – we look forward to supporting more educators as they embrace technology within the classroom.”

Mr Blackman says Howick College is an excellent example of a school that is leading the education sector in its savvy use of technology. It was named a Microsoft Pathfinder school earlier this year which is a global acknowledgement of its innovative and proactive use of technology within the classroom. The College has two previous winners of this Award on staff also – Nathan Kerr and Steve Martin.

The College is the second school in New Zealand to be chosen as a Pathfinder School under the Microsoft Partners in Learning programme. This year 51 schools worldwide were selected as Pathfinder Schools, with seven named in the Asia Pacific region and two in New Zealand.

Earlier this month, Chris Clay, Head of Science Learning at Auckland’s Botany Downs Secondary College, was awarded a worldwide Microsoft award at the Partners in Learning Global Forum in Washington DC for his work with ICT in the classroom.

Chris created an online community and collaborative teaching model, which has grown from a single Biology class to now connect more than 30 schools across New Zealand to tackle real-world biological challenges. Chris provides his students with podcasts of his lectures in advance, and using a Wiki, students can ask each other and Chris questions before and after school. More than 1,500 contributions have been made to collaborative notes and discussion forums, and the podcasts have been viewed more than 20,000 times so far this year.

In addition, Chris’s students worked with a Crown Research Institute to complete a DNA profiling project. Through this work one student created software that increases the efficiency of the process used by research scientists to create DNA profiles for endangered species.

“The whole process involved in the Innovative Educators’ forum was an amazing experience, and winning the award was the icing on the cake,” says Chris.

“There are so many talented educators out there and it was great to be able to mix with people who are as passionate about ICT in education as I am. I truly believe that technology can shape student learning and my aim is to ensure all my students have the opportunity to understand and experience all technology has to offer. I am actively seeking other educators in New Zealand who would be looking to collaborate on projects and allows teachers and students from across the country working together, rather than working in isolation.”

Chris was chosen from more than 115 competitors, narrowed from more than 200,000 applicants. Hosted by Microsoft, the winners were selected by an international panel of 50 education experts through virtual classroom tours, onsite interviews and demonstrations of innovative teaching practice.

The other finalists for the New Zealand 2011 Microsoft Innovative Educators Awards were Simon Pearse from the CHB Technology Centre – Waipawa Primary School, Richard Buckland from Hora Hora Primary School in Whangarei, Catherine Johnson of Rangiora High School, and Deirdre Duggan and Vanya Budd from Maungatapu Primary School in Tauranga.

For further information including judging criteria and terms and conditions, please visit

About Microsoft:
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.

About Microsoft Partners in Learning programme:
The Microsoft Partners in Learning programme provides innovative programmes and affordable professional development for teachers created by teachers. For more information visit:


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