Teach Like An Egyptian

Mark Sparvell: Innovation Hunter 6- Port Said, Egypt

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by Mark Sparvell
School Leader Program Director, Microsoft

Hello leaders and learners!

Continuing my journey across the globe and capturing the voices, images and insights from some of our amazing Microsoft Innovative Expert Educations and the leaders in the inspiring Showcase Schools. If you haven’t been following my journey on twitter, might like to add @sparvell to your follows.


Date: February 2015

Location: Port Said, Egypt

Distance from home: 6839.3 Miles (11006.8 Kilometers / 5939.2 Nautical Miles)

The early morning drive from my hotel on the Giza Plateau towards Cairo was breathtaking. The sun, through the haze reflecting rose gold on the pyramids, coaxing activity into the street vendors as they stockpiled oranges for sale.

Port Said, a bustling vibrant city, is a couple of hundred kilometers from Cairo and was established 1859 as a base to house workers engaged in the construction of the Suez Canal. I enjoyed the experience in the afternoon of a short ferry rise across Suez from the continent of Africa to Asia- Port Said exists on two continents!

Showcase School Director, Ghada Attia and Principal of the National School, Noha Ikram greeted me at the school with warmth and enthusiasm.


Port Said Director, Ghada Aiitia and National School Principal, Noha Ikram are acknowledged at the recent Microsoft Global Forum held in Dubai.

Port Said is a semi private school built ten years ago. The school has 1300 students across the International and national sections. A highly awarded Year 1- year 12 school, Port Said has been a proud Global Mentor School, IT Academy and now Showcase School. Ghada Attia is fiercely proud of the schools achievements.


After some opening remarks and, pretty amazing snacks, we began a classroom and facility tour.


As a hunter of innovation, I’ve visited many schools and classrooms. I can always tell when powerful teaching and learning is happening because I simply want to stay in the room! This was my first experience. I visited an English Language class taught by MS Shaina’a Elbaz and Ms Radwa Gharbie and I was instantly captivated by her lively questioning style and positive energy. The teacher made excellent use of the interactive board to reinforce, focus and engage in ‘invisible assessment’. The students using their devices with Windows and One Note moved between whole class and individual tasks using quite complex scientific concepts to broaden and deepen English language skills. In further English Language and Arabic classes, I saw the other passionate teachers leveraging digital to amplify learning.

Port Said is in the process of exploring OneNote Class Creator to drive even greater collaboration.


I had the chance to view grade 9 computer programming. Again, what impressed me was the use of questioning to build on and understand student understanding, in this case about logic errors. The students told me that programming and coding have been a part of their learning since grade 1.


Port Said provides a holistic education experience and while I saw many examples of technology being used extremely well by students and staff, I also saw the richness of music lessons, dance classes, karate and evidence of a strong focus on values and citizenship.


At the end of the day a diverse student group were gathered to have a conversation with me. I asked them questions about their schooling experiences, engagement with technology and aspirations. I was impressed with the diverse aspirations, ‘engineer’, ‘mathematician’, ‘diplomat’, ‘military service’ and so on. It seemed that students could dream big different dreams at Port Said.

Students universally enjoyed their devices (the school pilots BYOD 1:1 with targeted classes with O365 as the common element next year) and felt these helped them with their learning.mark-6-3

I was very impressed with my visit to Port Said and grateful to the Partner In Learning Manager, Rasha el-Ashry for her coordination. The leadership team at Port Said have a clear vision for the kinds of graduates that the school produces and is clear about the role technology can play to extend learning. The school has created an environment where innovative teaching and learning can occur. The staff have professional learning opportunities including Microsoft ITA Academy, Microsoft Teaching with Technology, 21st Century Learning Design and other professional activities which are well supported by a vendor with a clear personal interest in the success of the school.

This was a surprise ‘packet’ on my journey to hunt and highlight innovation at its source.

Port Said , one of my Seven Wonders of the Educational World.



#showcaseschools #msftedu

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