Microsoft Redefining Learning: Darran Park Primary School

Collage 2016-06-12 14_10_28

On 8th June 2016, the pupils and staff of Darran Park Primary welcomed over eighty educators and school leaders from across Wales to our Microsoft Redefining Learning event.  The event was a great opportunity for us to share our journey as a Microsoft Showcase School and how we have used technology to transform teaching and learning. We were proud to welcome Steve Beswick, Microsoft Senior Director of Education, to our school for the first Redefining Learning event ever to be held in Wales.

Opening speeches

Mr Chris Coole, Headteacher of Darran Park Primary School, opened the event by sharing the school’s vision and approach to developing digital competence. He discussed the importance of being innovative and the school’s commitment to CPD. Through working closely with Rhondda Cynon Taf Council the school became a Microsoft Academy in 2014.  As a result eight teachers have gained the Microsoft Certified Educator qualification and four teachers are currently Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts.  I concluded the presentation by discussing our approach to developing digital competence and Microsoft 21st Century Learning design through a project based approach to learning.

This was followed by an inspiring keynote speech by Steve Beswick. He discussed the importance of providing learners with the skills they need to flourish in the 21st century. He shared Microsoft’s approach to education and discussed how schools are using technology to inspire and empower learners.

We then invited our visitors to the classrooms to take part in pupil led workshops. The first workshop focused on using the Office 365 tools Sway and OneNote in the classroom. Both tools were accessed through Hwb, the All Wales VLE. The pupils discussed how they have used these tools within their topics and shared some of their latest work, including a OneNote notebook linked to their current literacy project The Wonderful World of Roald Dahl. Mrs Protheroe, Year 5/6 teacher, and the children from Foxes class enjoyed sharing how they have used Sway to create online presentations to share their learning from their Technotastic theme.

The second workshop focused on using Minecraft in the classroom. The pupils discussed how they have used Minecraft as part of a project based approach to learning.  They shared the Tudor village they created during the topic Off With Her Head, the Rhondda Heritage Park from Black Gold: Hearts, Souls and Mines and their most recent map – World War Two Ferndale from their topic Blitz: Wales at War.

One of the Year 6 digital leaders shared an OfficeMix he inspired by his Minecraft work and talked about how it had been shared with people from all over the world at Microsoft’s global E2 conference in Budapest. Following this, pupils shared the Roald Dahl map which has been created as part of The Wonderful World of Roald Dahl literacy project. The children discussed how they have been developing their reading skills through using a range of Roald Dahl texts and building their own Roald Dahl world.

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The final workshop focused on using Office Mix to bring PowerPoint presentations to life and using Hwb+, the All Wales VLE, as part of a project based approach to learning. Chris Ingram, Year 3/4 class teacher, discussed the Road to Rio project, the latest collaboration between Rhondda Cynon Taf and Microsoft Academy. The pupils showcased a shared  Hwb+ site they have been using to collaborate with pupils from fifteen different RCT schools. The project has been designed to develop digital competence and Microsoft 21st Century Learning Design. The Year 3/4 pupils spoke with great enthusiasm about the project and loved sharing their work with so many new people. In addition to the Hwb+ workshop, some Year 6 pupils shared how to use Office Mix – a free add on the Powerpoint. They started by sharing an Office Mix they created about rich and poor Tudor houses during Off With Her Head, a Tudor based theme.

They followed this with a hands on workshop showing some of the great features of Office Mix.  They particularly enjoyed sharing how the screen recording feature can be used to capture their Minecraft worlds.  Another great feature of Office Mix is that completed presentations can be turned into videos, making them really easy to share with others.

A big thank you to all the pupils and teachers who led these workshops. We are really proud of the way they spoke so enthusiastically and knowledgably about their learning.

The event also included a presentation about using digital technology to promote school-to-school working. Hayley Brady, Deputy Headteacher Llandough Primary School, and Ben Beard, Ysgol Gynradd Pen-Y-Pil, joined to talk about our School Improvement Group project Blitz: Wales at War. During this topic pupils collaborated using a shared Hwb+ and using Office 365 tools available through Hwb. During the topic, pupils learned about the impact World War Two had on their communities and developed their historical understanding by creating their own Minecraft maps about their local community. Collage Blitz Wales at War

The topic provided gave pupils a meaningful context to develop digital competence and collaborate with others pupils from Cardiff, Bridgend, The Vale of Glamorgan and Rhondda Cynon Taf. A big thank you to all the schools who were involved in the project.

The headline act was the presentation by our pupil Digital Leaders. The children discussed how our the role of a Digital Leader has evolved over the past few years. They talked about how they have worked with children in over forty different schools as part of the ‘Digital Leader Roadshow.’ This has involved visiting each school to lead a range of workshops aimed at developing digital competence. The workshops have included: using Minecraft in the classroom, Hwb+ and coding. They also discussed the recent Digital training event they led for Central South Consortium – Developing an Effective Digital Leader Council. They have also led staff training with teachers from a number of different schools. We are incredibly proud of the work they have done to develop digital competence with so many different pupils and teachers from so many different schools.

A big thank you to everyone who attended the event – it was a pleasure to welcome you to our school. If you would like to find out more about how to use Sway, OfficeMix, OneNote or Minecraft, please visit the Microsoft Educator Community .  It is a great CPD tool and is completely free to sign up.

If you would like any more information, or would like to collaborate on a future project, it would be great to hear from you.


Twitter: @DpDarran     @DarranPark











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