Microsoft Showcase School
Today we welcomed the Minister of Education, the Hon. Evarist Bartolo, as well as the Microsoft Mediterranean CEO, Mr. Plutarchos Rigas, to officially inaugurate the fact that Microsoft has chosen our School to be the 1st Microsoft Showcase School in Malta.
Microsoft Showcase Schools are a global community of schools engaged in innovative change to improve teaching and learning using Microsoft Education Training Framework. With the support and guidance of Microsoft, Showcase Schools create immersive and inclusive experiences that inspire lifelong learning, stimulating development of essential life skills so students are empowered to achieve more.
Showcase School leadership teams are part of a professional community that amplifies the use of technology to drive school-wide transformation and efficiencies. Microsoft Showcase Schools come in all shapes and sizes, and each has made a commitment to educational transformation.
We are proud to have been chosen and we will continue to work to keep up our reputation of educational innovation and care for each of our students!
Pioneer in the gamification of education in Malta.
Gabby Govus, a teacher at St Catherine’s High School, Pembroke, shares her experience of conducting digital literacy lessons in classrooms using Microsoft’s innovative IT tools over the past four years.
A group of students from our school were recently hosted by the Microsoft Innovation Centre for a Minecraft Education in the Classroom session. The event was led by Immersive Minds from Scotland, a company that specialises in creating innovative and transformative learning through digital technologies.
In 2009, when I started my teaching at St Catherine’s High school, this technology was still at its inception. Where we stand today is the result of nearly a decade of studies, risk taking and exploration of tools and resources that enable students to take control of their learning by immersing themselves in a self-driven and motivating methodology for learning.
For these past four years, besides carrying out my class teaching duties, the school entrusted me with the coordination of digital literacy lessons across the primary years. In these lessons, new skills were explored and applied in the classroom, including the use of innovative tools such as coding, Minecraft, embarking on eTwinning projects and communicating with Skype from inside the classroom.
The success and the progress we experienced across the primary school classes encouraged us to take this project to the next level, and as from this year, the school entrusted me with a new and exciting project focused on digital literacy at senior level. I was also assigned a mentoring role to support and engage with the other teachers in the school.
We create cross-curricular projects on a weekly and fortnightly basis. This not only introduces students to a more comprehensive ICT syllabus but also teaches them how to apply learned skills across the board and how to implement them through technology.
Among the projects that we have carried out is the publication of our own augmented reality ‘Free to Fly’ book, which saw students creating, illustrating and using technology to embed augmented reality and showcasing their own little stories.
We have collaborated with a class in the Canary Islands, and through field trips, students have researched, reported and created places of interest in Malta, using Minecraft as a tool. This not only catered for their love and passion for games, but it also gave us the opportunity to apply gamification as another tool specifically designed for classrooms environments.
The first project won us an Award for Best Primary Project during Embed ’15 and Embed ’16 and we placed second for Innovative Projects during Embed ’17 with our second project.
One of the latest investments at St Catherine’s is the use of virtual reality (VR) in the classroom. We are the first school in Malta to use VR as a pedagogical tool in the classroom. VR not only opens the doors to new worlds but it literally shifts mind-sets and classroom walls.
Our students can visit historic buildings or even eras in time, such as Ancient Greece, Rome. Using VR, they can visit the Louvre or the Champs-Élysées in Paris, from their classroom, exploring and recording aspects that interest them most. This not only gives a new life to their learning experience beyond books or online media but it also motivates and engages students in a way that takes learning to different levels of attainment.
VR can also be applied in many other areas of the curriculum such as maths, English, science, history, geography, languages and other subjects such as design technology. One recent example was the use of VR for mathematical calculations. Instead of presenting students with a typical handout, we created a world where students found mathematical problems while walking through a village square. This same data was then transferred onto worksheets which could be carried home so that the students could see their given tasks to an end. This is so fascinating!
As a teacher and parent, I look at today’s generation of students growing up in a digital world where the use of digital devices is a huge part of their everyday experience when they are not at school. With technology playing such a prominent role in our students’ lives, the main challenge for the teaching profession today is how to harness all this technology in a way that facilitates learning inside the classroom and at home. Teachers are being called to be more than just teachers but to assume the role of facilitators and coaches in an increasingly collaborative learning environment.
Not every teacher may feel confident enough to apply technology in the classroom, so support, guidance and mentoring is crucial. Schools do well to invest in in-house qualified and innovative educators who can be the link between their school and these new tools and methodologies as they support and promote this mind shift in their school and their respective communities.
Source: Times Of Malta
Cambridge University Students’ Union officially celebrated 800 years of Innovation at Cambridge. As such, schools from all over the world with a reputation of innovation were invited to take part in the compilation of a book “Innovation 800”. Our School was invited and we gladly accepted. The publication is now ready and we are pleased to be part of this volume.
This landmark event connects Innovators and Educators from around the world. Innovation 800 explores some of the most pressing challenges facing society today and celebrates those organisations and individuals who are addressing these challenges.
The free, downloadable, online eBook version can be accessed at http://tiny.cc/Innovation800 and the individual organisation features can be accessed via the contents page. The feature on SCHS can be viewed directly on the Innovation 800 website at http://www.cambridge-strategies.org/st-catherines-high-school
We invite you to enjoy the read!
Ms. Sue Midolo
Head of School
Summer School will be held (Flutterby-Senior 1)
It is with pleasure that I can announce that our popular Summer School programme will be offered this year once again for our Flutterby, Pre-Junior and Junior 1 students. More details will follow in April time … and it promises to be as exciting and fun as it usually is!
Furthermore, it is in the pipeline also that we will be offering a Summer School for the Junior 2 to the current Senior 1s this year too. A lot of preparation is going into offering a programme that will be great fun for the students and will involve some new activities too! Similarly, details on this programme will be out in April.
We thought of informing you now so that you can put your heads at rest for this coming Summer!! We trust that we will have an enjoyable Summer with our students (and other students who apply for our programme from outside our School).
Ms. Sue Midolo
Head of School