Featured image: Global Teacher Prize 2016 Top 50 Finalist Jolanta Okuniewska's students look for her photo after the Top 50 Finalist announcement. Source: Jolanta's Twitter account. Teaching in the 21st century is exciting! Teachers have many tools at their disposal to use inside and outside of classrooms, including YouTube, radio, Skype, and other online platforms. These five Global Teacher Prize 2016 Top 50 Finalists demonstrate the power of education technology (edtech) in their classrooms.
1. JOLANTA OKUNIEWSKA - GAMES AND PUZZLES ON TABLETS INSIDE THE CLASSROOM
Jolanta grew up in communist Poland, and trained to become a teacher. At that time there were few opportunities to collaborate with other teachers internationally, so when the Iron Curtain fell in 1990 she eagerly embraced the new opportunities available. She began to learn English in order to work with other schools in Europe and explore new teaching styles. She uses tablets in her primary school classes to enhance learning through online puzzles, games and posters that she has developed with a colleague, in addition to using free Polish and English e-learning resources. She used ICT to allow a chronically ill pupil to follow lessons and stay in touch with her class despite having to spend a lot of time in a hospital. Jolanta makes extensive use of eTwinning projects so that her students develop a broad range of collaborative, linguistic, intercultural and technical competencies. She shares lessons with other teachers throughout Europe, and trains Polish teachers at conferences, online and in publications on integrating ICT into lessons and setting up eTwinning projects.
Surprize - a big article about me and #globalteacherprize#TeachersMatter#Gazetawyborczapic.twitter.com/22VzTrELoQ — Jolanta Okuniewska (@jolcik66) December 18, 2015
Jolanta is honoured by local government and media after being named a Global Teacher Prize 2016 Top 50 Finalist.
2. RICHARD JOHNSON — SCIENCE CLASSES TRANSFORM INTO 3D ROBOTICS LABS FOR YOUNG INVENTORS!
Richard’s career has flourished at Rostrata Primary School, in Perth Western Australia. His science lab evolved into an advanced STEM lab for young students. In his classes students are tasked with problem solving using some of the most amazing technologies in the world. He uses robotics, 3D printing, 3D Pens and augmented reality and is currently building an augmented sandbox. He introduced his students to the amazing F1 in Schools Challenge in 2009. In 2015 Richards was the runner up in the DiscoverE.org Educator Awards for an outstanding contribution to STEM Education. His students have even created a harmonograph from components they designed and then manufactured with a 3D printer. Nobel Prize winner Robin Warren honoured Richard’s school with a visit in 2013 to recognize the work of his year 4 students. They wrote the Laureate’s story in a children’s online book. Richard works closely with the local science museum, Scitech and Curtin University. He shares his influential style of teaching widely at conferences and online. Rostrata Primary School has been assigned the status of a Teacher Development School. The science program has changed the dynamics of the school in many positive ways, and its students have achieved significant performance improvements in national and state tests. Richard Johnson speaks about his style of education. Source: Science in Public.
3. INÉS BULACIO – INTERNET AND RADIO PROGRAMS TRANSFORM THE LIVES OF STUDENTS WHO CAN’T GO TO SCHOOL!
Inés is not a traditional teacher who lectures in front of a class. Instead, she teaches students in a Buenos Aires hospital and in their homes if they have illnesses that make schoolgoing impractical. Inés has developed an innovative audiovisual communication project in which the students produce animated shorts and educational radio programs. Children and adolescents act out lessons, becoming proficient in multimedia production processes while developing their creative capacities and overcoming their isolation with the help of ICT. The students also disseminate information regarding the special care required for treating their conditions. In this way the student-patients become active participants in their own learning process, and their parents, doctors and the entire hospital community as well the Home School are involved as well. Each audiovisual work is then distributed via social networks, at meetings in the hospital, medical and educational congresses, workshops, festivals and book fairs. Several productions have received awards. Inés has shared her approach with other teachers of hospital-based and home-based students across Argentina, raising awareness of the value of using ICT in this context and training others in the technical steps of creating audiovisual productions. Students speak about teacher Inés Bulacio’s efforts in education. Source: Inés Bulacio’s channel on YouTube.
4. COLIN HEGARTY - CREATOR OF AN ONLINE MATH EDUCATION PLATFORM, SERVING STUDENTS EVERYWHERE!
Colin was raised in a one-bedroom council flat in London by Irish immigrant parents and was taught that education was the best way to improve one’s life. He went on to be the first person in his family’s history to attend university, reading mathematics at Oxford and gaining a first-class degree. His mission is to show children that they too can do maths — as well as anything else in life — if they believe in themselves, work hard and have the right support. Colin teaches maths to high school students in London and applies a flipped classroom approach that makes extensive use of self-developed online resources. His teaching extends far beyond his own students though. The 1,500 videos on learning maths that he has created and made available for free on his website Hegartymaths.com have received nearly 5 million views and have been used in at least 65 United Kingdom schools to date. Colin is a sought-after presenter at conferences and teacher training sessions. In addition, he blogs regularly about educational issues and was rated in the UK as one of the top 50 most influential bloggers. In 2014-2015 he won the UK Teacher of the Year award for teaching excellence and the influence his online work has had on pupils, parents and teachers. His most popular posts discuss improving maths confidence, the similarities of teachers and entrepreneurs, and the role of technology in education. Colin Hegarty speaks about his perspective on education. Source: Wow Talks.
5. MICHAEL SOSKIL- INTERNATIONAL CLASSROOM COLLABORATION AND INTERNATIONAL SERVICE PROGRAMS.
Michael is the head teacher of Wallenpaupack South Elementary School in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania and a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching. He started using Skype In The Classroom to connect his classroom in Pennsylvania with students in other countries. His class met, via Skype, with a class from Kibera, Kenya. Students from both classrooms sang their favourite songs, had a conversation, and exchanged knowledge and experiences. After the Skype call ended, Soskil’s students initiated a Global Service Learning Project with Kenyan students whom they met online. They decided to record videos using the classroom maths materials, that aren’t available in Kenya, and sent these videos to the Kenyan school. This gradually developed into a huge global service program founded in Michael’s belief that students should be empowered to change the world. He has designed numerous projects where his classes have collaborated with and learned from students and experts from different parts of the world. His students in Pennsylvania led a fundraising initiative to purchase water filters as a gift for two schools in Kenya in order to combat life threatening sickness, like Cholera, that results from unclean drinking water. In this way, Michael isn’t only teaching his students that they can change the world, but he is actually assisting them to make that impact while they are inside his classroom. Michael co-hosts an online podcast called “EDTech Chat ‘n Chew“, which attracts many teachers and students online. He also has a blog with 180,000 visitors, in which he regularly writes about education innovation. Teacher Michael Soskil speaks about the Global Service Learning project. Source: The Brainwaves Video Anthology.
We are honoured to present these wonderful teachers to the world and demonstrate how education technology is changing classrooms and communities in incredible ways. These five are only a selection of the finalists using edtech innovatively. For example, during the recent Ebola outbreak, Miriam Mason-Sesay's Remote Learning Program created 200 podcast lessons and distributed them via motorbike to students and other teachers, using USB sticks with rechargeable radios. Read the inspiring profiles of all Top 50 finalists!