Irish teacher top of the world class for innovation

7 Nov 2008

An Irish school teacher has come third in the ‘Innovation in Content’ category at Microsoft’s 2008 Worldwide Innovative Teachers Forum (ITF) in Hong Kong.

Kate O’Connell’s project ‘Flying High: Exploring Aviation’ integrated every subject in the primary-school curriculum with ICT and digital learning.

The children used LEGO to construct their own working models of airplanes, building hydraulic lifts to raise the planes and stimulate flight. The project used the constructivist approach developed by Professor Seymour Papert of MIT and pioneered in Ireland by Dr Deirdre Butler at St Patrick’s College.

Future Human

Now in its fourth year, the Worldwide ITF rewards outstanding teachers who practice exceptional 21st-century learning and incorporate the creative use of technology in their classrooms.

“After spending five days here with teachers from all over the world, it really opens your eyes to the magnificent projects teachers around the world are implementing in the classroom,” Kate O’Connell said from Hong Kong.

“I am looking forward to coming back and competing next year,” she promised.

“Teachers Forum is the belief that teachers from all over the world are transforming education and using innovative learning methods to empower their students and prepare them for the 21st century.”

“It is an inspiration to see teachers from 64 countries around the world collaborate together, and show how they are using technology in innovative ways to change the way their students learn,” Dr Kevin Marshall, academic programme manager at Microsoft Ireland, explained.

“Kate’s entry was one of 100,000 entries, and I am delighted that her achievements have been recognised,” he said.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years