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PE teacher claims Microsoft education prize

28 Nov 2011

An Auckland PE teacher has claimed the 2011 Microsoft Innovative Educator award, for a creative project that used technology take encourage greater engagement in what is traditionally seen as a technology-free subject.

Julia Breen, from Howick College, says the project was a big step towards changing the perception of PE in the school community.

"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.”

The project combined Microsoft’s Movie Maker, OneNote, and internet-based SkyDrive, along with green screen technology. Students had to work in a collaborative manner, and tracked their progress using their own learning journals. 

For the NCEA achievement standard on which the green screen project was used, 33% of students achieved excellence, compared with 21% the previous year. Only two students recorded ‘not achieving’ results, which was well below the national average.

Breen will receive a professional development package worth more than $5000, 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 between ultra-fast broadband and cloud networks there is a lot of exciting technology out there.

"Teachers are the critical ingredient,” Blackman says.

"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.”

Named a Microsoft Pathfinder school earlier this year, Howick College already has two previous winners of the Innovative Educator award on staff, Nathan Kerr and Steve Martin.

Go here for more on Microsoft’s education programme. 

Pictured: Julia Breen, centre, with Evan Blackman, left, and Microsoft NZ general manager, Paul Muckleston.