by Mette Hauch’s English Class
Hellerup Skole, Denmark
It all started a little over a month ago, after an ordinary English class when our English teacher, Mette, approached us saying something like, “Can I speak to you for a minute?” which, of course set off an alarm clock in at least half our heads. However it turned out to be something quite harmless, in fact even a little interesting. Mette wanted our help, for a translating project during English class. From then on we’d be working with some learning skills, translating them to “student language”, obviously an upgrade from the Lets Do It book- a far more motivational work alternative. By the end of the process, what we then thought would be about 2 weeks; we should’ve produced a film explaining the six skills at eye level with other students.
The start was a bit slow; after all we had 44 pages of vast text in “adult” language to get through. As a side note, we’d started making our own examples, in the same format as they were shown in the text; just to clarify our understanding of the skills- it definitely wasn’t anything we’d expected to be all that important. Mostly, we focused on collaboration, (the skill we’re most well adapted at using at Hellerup Skole), up until our call with Maria Langworthy. It turned out that we became so engaged and interested, on either side of the Skype call, to even get halfway through our list of questions. Maria had lots and lots of fascinating stories to tell us, about all the different ways students across the world had already used the skills to better their learning. After our call, we all felt very inspired to continue creating our own examples, and lucky for us that was exactly what we were asked to do, the following morning.
At our first visit the Danish Microsoft Headquarters, we were greeted by Kresten Thorndahl, and David Garde Tschertoks, the enthusiastic assistant who brought us to one of the building’s lounge rooms, the one known as the Xbox lounge, made sure we were comfortable (with lots of cocoa!) and then, asked us to explain what’d we’d done so far, what our thoughts on the skills were and how we worked with them on a day to day basis previously, at Hellerup Skole. It didn’t take long for our rehearsed presentation to turn into more of a discussion with lots of inputs and ideas from every corner of the couch. Afterwards Kresten shared several new programs with us that we’d never even heard of before that day, including OneNote and PowerPoint Mix, so we could judge for ourselves whether they’d be compatible with the skills. Sure, some grown-up can sit in their office and decide that what they’ve designed is perfect for student use, but you can never know for sure before it’s been tested. Once we’d agreed that they must certainly were compatible, we immediately started working on various different presentations. Today, just after our third day, at Microsoft, there’s still worked to be done, hopefully we’ll finish them at out next visit, next Wednesday.
The earlier mentioned short film, that was meant to be our final project, turned out to be cast aside pretty quickly by other projects popping up. Right now there’s talk of a conference we could join, with our own little booth explaining just as we did to Kresten on our first visit, what exactly we’re working with and what we’ll be working with later. Aside from that we’re planning on continuing writing examples, producing an app, and maybe even getting started on that originally planned film, sometime. All of which we look forward to a lot more than ordinary school projects. The way we work with Microsoft is far much more rewarding than the usual projects we complete in school, given the huge increase in motivation and simply the nice, calm and quiet environment we experience at the Danish Microsoft Headquarters. As much as we love our school, it certainly can get a little noisy!