Double Exposure: Learning unbounded by time or place

At Microsoft Education, we love creating tools like Microsoft Teams for classrooms across the globe. For us, though, the best thing about being able to share a tool like Teams for the classroom is seeing how educators use it to support student learning.

We were lucky enough to hear from Dr. Michelle Zimmerman, educator at Renton Prep, about how she engages students in their learning goals using Teams and the Transformation Framework. Let’s dive into her story.

Pssst … don’t forget Microsoft Teams and many of the tools highlighted in this story are FREE for students and teachers as part of Office 365 Education! Get started now.

From Dr. Michelle Zimmerman:


How a Showcase School uses Microsoft Teams


As a Microsoft Showcase School, Renton Prep has always been pushing the limits of what’s possible when leadership, innovation and technology come together. This September, Renton Prep’s new building, set to open in 2020, was named as one of the schools in the first cohort of the Microsoft Flagship School program. This means we are part of Microsoft’s new program to support the creation of new schools, guided by the Microsoft Transformation Framework.  The framework focuses on Leadership and Policy, Modern Teaching and Learning, Intelligent Environments, and Technology Blueprint. When these foundational pieces are already in place, it is easy to draw from tools to facilitate learning to match and meet end goals. This story offers a glimpse into the process for one of our first high school projects of the school year.


Setting the scene: The Transformation Framework in action


“If we want young people to see relevant learning outside the classroom space, we need to help them transfer learning and see it all around them.”

It starts with Transformative Leadership: our values remain steadfast, but our vision continually transforms. Ongoing transformation is intentionally built into our school’s 10-year vision plan. It means that our teaching and learning need to continually be relevant and modern with intelligent environments.

Since we are in ongoing transformation while plans are still in progress for a new building, we know that learning goals need to drive the purpose for learning spaces. For us, this means getting our students out into the community as much as possible to see relevance in learning outside the walls of the classroom. As wonderful as new buildings are, effective teaching and learning can be possible in a wide range of environments.

If we want young people to see relevant learning outside of the classroom space, we need to help them transfer learning and see it all around them. Partnerships and local capacity building can increase student outcomes and cost efficiencies, ensuring the greatest possible teamwork and success. This is where the Seattle Art Museum came in. The first Thursday of every month is free admission, allowing us to use the museum as our learning space on the second day of school (September 6th).

The special exhibit, as described by the Seattle Art Museum:

Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson features 150 images by a historic photographer, alongside immersive experiences from three contemporary artists. Across a spectrum of media rooted in lens-based processes, all four artists contribute to a complex and ever-expanding portrait of Native America.

As an educator, my goal is to help young people see how multiple subject domains intersect and inform things they see around them. It’s not just art. It’s culture and global perspective. It’s narrative with English Language Arts. It’s STEM technology with Augmented Reality and photography, to physics with color, lighting and perception, and the engineering of art pieces that replicate the Peace Arch at the border of the United States and Canada.

I looked at the ISTE Standards for Students and Common Core State Standards to determine a general guideline and end goal for my students. What counts as demonstrating their knowledge and what does it look like? These standards serve as a guide as I construct the design of a project, informed by the 21st Century Learning Design. You can take a series of courses to learn 21CLD on the Microsoft Educator Community for free.


Fostering collaboration and personalizing learning with Microsoft technology


On the first day of school, I gave my students access to files on Microsoft Teams that would help them start to explore symbolism seen in art by Indigenous, First Nations people. They also had guidelines including video clips I wanted them to watch in preparation and an image that we discussed, practicing Visual Thinking Strategies.

In their assignment I specified:

  • Criteria
  • Tools they’d need with them on the field trip
  • Data they’d need to collect
  • What I wanted to see in a final product

With Microsoft Teams, I was able to @mention the cohort to call their attention, share links to the tools and videos, and keep all the content and conversations in one place for the assignment.

In Teams, I created an assignment detailing the instructions, due date, and resources. Each student receives a notification about the assignment and has their own view of the assignment details. Even better, they can access this information on their mobile devices.

A helpful link I included in the assignment was to a self-assessment in Microsoft Forms. Part of Modern Teaching and Learning and Curriculum and Assessment, this step helps students personalize learning pathways and empowers them to build new skills. Assessment tools like Forms can be used as much as testing. When students learn by trial and error, schools can create an environment where students are part of their formative assessment and it is woven into the curriculum. The Transformation Framework states that: “new forms of curriculum – whether project-based, personalized or competency driven – require new tools to access, customize and assess progress for each student.”

Students accessed the Microsoft Form from their mobile or Surface devices while at the Seattle Art Museum

Diving into an intelligent environment and an immersive experience


Intelligent environments and immersive experiences can empower collaboration by students, educators and leaders in flexible, energy-efficient, and secure learning spaces. In these purpose-driven experiences, students can forge a stronger connection to the real world.

Diving into an immersive experience, a student uses the Microsoft Teams iOS mobile app on the iPhone

Immersive experiences have been shown to increase student understanding and retention in all subjects, so they are a key component of modern teaching and learning. The Seattle Art Museum Double Exposure exhibit took “intelligent environment” to a new level. The modern artists merged tradition and technology, including an Augmented Reality app that students could download and hold up their phone to see the photography come to life, hear the artist’s voice, or view additional content. The most effective AR experiences, according to my students, were the images that actually augmented reality, rather than overlaying a video.

We took a different learning space and made it our classroom for the middle of the day. It wasn’t about walking in, through, and leaving, or simply getting out of school. It was about learning – intentionally – and learning in a way that enabled my students to extend their thinking beyond that moment and share it with the world, using the Sways they created based on their perspective, approach, and goals for their personalized learning path.

By creating a framework and guidelines for students, prior to arriving in an intelligent environment and an immersive space, with a collaborative learning platform like Microsoft Teams, modern teaching and learning is activated. It brings students together with teachers and the wider community where they experience experts, multiple perspectives, and a real-world setting. The right platform connects people, learning activities, content and insights, all in one place.

A student started their sketch on their Surface in Fresh Paint using digital ink while they were looking at the original piece of art in the museum. They later input the image into a Sway

One of my students started her sketch on her Surface in Fresh Paint using digital ink while she was looking at the original piece of art in the museum. The above image is the teacher view on mobile in Microsoft Teams, accessing the sketch in the Sway that they created on-site. Having the tools available on site during the learning experience made for a seamless work space, collaborative space, and production space – all outside of our classroom walls.

With that foundation in place, personalized learning becomes motivating, engaging, and relevant. Self-assessment allows for identifying accurate levels and ongoing improvement, rather than aiming for perfection in a one-time summarized test of knowledge at the end of a unit. By understanding students’ strengths and weaknesses – academic, emotional, or social – educators can facilitate students at a more individualized level. At the same time, students can get feedback, support, and request critique that challenges their own view or ideas.

Another student captured her research from a OneNote Class Notebook in Teams, took screen shots of those pages, and used the media card in Sway to insert photos of her work. As an educator, I am able to gain insight into her thought process, seeing what she researched on her own, what she highlighted, where her thought process was as she worked within the guidelines and extended her learning, and how she saw the Seattle Art Museum videos fitting in her knowledge construction. I ask students to make their process visible, so they can show other people what is possible, but also model for educators who like to model their thinking off a process that is observable.


Staying connected and in touch with Microsoft Teams


Once we were at the Seattle Art Museum, Microsoft Teams gave me a safe, easy way for my students to communicate with me over mobile devices (without giving out cell numbers), to update me on their progress, and to notify me if they wanted me to come over and capture a picture of them in action. Photography can be a form of documentation and assessment that captures non-traditional learning.

A student’s phone showing her student view as she contacted the teacher to let her know she was working on her sketch

I was able to receive a student’s notification as a push notification on my iPhone as I was observing other students, and able to locate her in the museum exhibit to capture her sketching her art piece that stood out to her. For this, she used her Surface and digital ink in Fresh Paint. Some students sketched in a OneNote Class Notebook, accessible in Teams in their section.

A student sketching on her Surface

As my students were working through their goals at the museum, I was able to see progress in real time on my phone via Teams. Some students completed their assignment while we were at the museum. Some had the framework in place, but they wanted to spend more time refining when they got home.

Screen shot of Microsoft Forms from Teacher view to see graphical results from students


What’s next? Carrying immersive learning forward


In the future, we know that machines will become more capable of automating tasks, including basic level code. However, humans have the ability to create in ways that are inspired by emotion, tradition, culture, empathy and even from implicit information in ways that machines cannot. Creating rich projects like Double Exposure will help students practice deep level processing, collaboration, knowledge creation, and communication as they work across multiple domains and transfer learning to multiple settings outside of the classrooms.

With Microsoft’s mobile-enabled technologies, and tools like Microsoft Teams, we have the right fit to support the learning that we want to do to prepare students for the future. If you are interested in learning more about the future of education in a world with artificial intelligence, read the new book, Teaching AI: Exploring New Frontiers for learning. If you’d like hands-on immersive learning, come to ISTE Creative Constructor Lab in Seattle in November and hear directly from these students. Get tips and tricks for engaging people their age and insight from the work they do with little buddies. Come on a city walk with us at Pike Place Market and make your own project in Microsoft Teams and Sway!

Many of the tools described in this story, like Microsoft Teams, are available for FREE for educators and students as part of Office 365 Education! Get started now.

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