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Live Blogging the 2014 Microsoft in Education Global Forum in Miami- Day 1


Bringing you live updates from this gathering of school leaders in LATAM!

[8:30am-] Keynote, Dr. Cathy Cavanaugh, Education Leader, Microsoft

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“We’re preparing students for a fast world, which is why we need to be fast and dynamic.

[8:42am] Dr. Cavanaugh explains to us how research has shown that the learning journey consists of three steps that involve technology:

  1. Think (Digital Ink– thinking scaffolds, and inking is a way of processing that is happening in highly visual ways)
  2. Express (OneNote and Sway- express where they stand in their conceptual understanding
  3. Collaborate & Record (Office Mix, OneNote- students work together and their learning is captured)

[9:15am] Alberto Cavalho, Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools on how they transformed a school district during a recession:


“Our goal- crack the code of eliminating the gaps, equitable and equal access to high quality educational programs, and in the process also bridge the digital divide, eradicate the digital deserts in the community, and by the way, do it all in the recession. If we can do it in Miami, maybe we can find a solution that can be replicated and amplified throughout the country, knowing the America of tomorrow is the Miami of today.”

[9:24am] Mr. Cavalho- “If the tsunami is coming at you, the only way to overcome it is to ride on top of it.” Miami-Dade County Public Schools embraced the challenges around them and used it as momentum to completely revision their school system.

[9:27am] Mr. Cavalho tells us about how he changed 75% of principals in the 4th largest school district in the U.S., and recruited the very best teachers so that graduation rates soared from 34% to 75%, 80%, in some cases, 90%. Inspiring!

[9:45am] “Not only can every child achieve, they are not broken. This is not about changing them, it’s about changing us so that we understand them.” – Mr. Cavalho

[10:00am] “From the impossible to the inevitable, there’s nothing but belief, skill, and will.” – Mr. Cavalho. What an inspiring speech about how to create real, widespread change that affects countless students’ lives for the better!

[10:12am] “You and I know that achievement gaps are often preceded by opportunity gaps. You and I know that if opportunity gaps, not negated ,become achievement gaps, and if achievement gaps are not addressed, become economic and generational gaps. For me it’s not a philosophical issue, it’s a pragmatic issue. In a day when we all carry 2 to 3 devices, what is initially an educational deficit becomes, over time, an economical disadvantage. I do not like to work from center stage. Unless you’re at the edge of the abyss, and look at the opportunity gap that stares at you in the face, you will not be able to understand it and you will not e able to develop solutions for it.” – Mr. Cavalho


[10:15am] Mr. Cavalho tells how about the ABCDE of how they implemented technology.

  • A for Application (which platform is the best match for the students’ needs? They selected Microsoft Windows 8.0)
  • B for Bandwidth (they rapidly expanded from 1GB->2GB->10GB to accommodate)
  • C for Connectivity (raising $7 million with the help of the Miami Heat to provide wifi to 100% of students)
  • D for Device (every student has an HP device)
  • E for Employee (“if you do not allocate professional development to guarantee that your teachers, your leaders, your support staff, leverages the device and technology beyond the characteristic 10% utilization of the full potential, then you’re throwing money out”).

[10:28am] To close his speech, Mr. Cavalho says “there is nothing more important to than to completely transform the architecture of education today…digital conversion must become the reality for our teachers, for our students, for America’s schools.”

[11:08am] Dr. Anoop Gupta, distinguished Microsoft Researcher, shares how electronic pens are the way to go in the future. Pam Mueller’s research article “The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard” illustrates scientifically how there is more processing done in the head because you write slower than you type, and as a result have to make conscious decisions as to what you do write down. This leads to deeper processing of the information you’re writing.”


[11:14am] Dr. Gupta shares with us a video illustrating how the OneNote Class Notebook Creator has effectively eliminated the process of handing sheets out, collecting them, grading them and handing them back out, saving teachers valuable time.

[1:12pm] “A teacher asked me, ‘Why won’t you provide us with the best teaching tool available?’ and that’s the day we decided to provide all our teachers with the Surface Pro 2.” – Jason Messer, visionary superintendent of Manteca Unified School District


[2:01pm] Roberto Rodriguez, United States Assistant to the President for Education

IMG_0393This vision that the president put forth around high school redesign will prioritize personalization of learning, engaging our students in project-based opportunities that are tied to these real-life experiences, challenging rigorous course that are align to the expectations that we know student will be held to in college.”

[2:08pm] “The future of learning in our country is increasingly interactive, individualized, full of the real world experiences and information of the learning ecosystems around our schools.” -Robert Rodriguez

[2:14pm] Technology is pervasive in our everyday lives and should also be in schools, says Mr. Rodriguez. “We believe technology can close the gap between the daily lives and daily experiences of our students, help us bridge that experience and better motivate our students to go ahead.”

[2:18pm] “The centerpiece of that ConnectEd initiative is to connect 99% of students within 5 years to the broadband they need. In a world where we expect wifi with our coffee, we have to DEMAND it in our school. ConnectEd has always been about setting the groundwork for innovation, and we are proud that Microsoft is one of 10 companies committing more than $2 billion to launching technology in our schools” – Mr. Rodriguez


[3:45pm] Michelle Licata, Florida Online Teacher of the Year, says “it’s important that we look at technology with the growth mindset. What I would suggest to educational leaders about technology is not be afraid, to put it in the hands of the teachers, to allow teachers to have the time for team teaching, peer teaching, programs where students are actually able to have feedback and various stakeholders in it, as well. Teachers and students just need to have access for them to be successful.”


[5:15pm] Martin Bukacek of Corinth shows us their amazing software and how you can learn science from 3D models on your screen, as well as some 3D printed models!




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